“Simon here is playing the most dangerous game known to mankind.”
When the Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and his friend Rex (Leon Greene) arrive at the house of their mutual friend Simon (Patrick Mower), they find he has been abducted into a satanic coven led by the warlock Mocata (Charles Gray). After rescuing Simon and a young initiate named Tanith (Nike Arrighi), they seek refuge in the home of the Duc’s niece (Sarah Lawson) and her husband (Paul Eddington).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Christopher Lee Films
- Demonic Possession
- Witches, Wizards, and Magicians
Response to Peary’s Review:
This “classy” horror film earns my vote as one of the best Hammer Studios flicks. The script, musical score, acting, and set designs all contribute towards the creation of a suspenseful, sometimes humorous tale of demonic possession in our midst. What makes the film so successful as a thriller is the fact that none of these characters — well-meaning or not — are immune to the powers of Mocata, who is capable of forcing them to act against their own wishes; as a result, we never know who to trust, and even the most eminently likeable characters eventually take their turn as a creepy vessel for the dark side. The special effects — particularly, as Peary notes, in the “visually spectacular finale” — are remarkably effective, and convey a frighteningly believable alternate universe.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A powerful tale of demonic possession and satanism
- Chrisopher Lee in an atypically heroic role
- Charles Gray as the sinister warlock Mocata
- Nike Arrighi as the tragic, beautiful Tanith
- Sarah Lawson (who looks uncannily like Vicki Lawrence) as the Duc’s niece
- Patrick Mower as Simon
- The simple yet effective special effects
- Atmospheric sets
- Some surprising moments of humor — as when Rex is nearly run over by the cross-eyed Countess (Gwen Ffrangcon Davies)
- The exciting car chase
- A smart, tightly woven script
- James Bernard’s score
Yes. This cult horror classic should be seen by all film fanatics.