A few weeks back I reviewed Tony, a British serial killer film from director Gerard Johnson. It’s the story of Tony, an unemployed, socially inept recluse who has a love for old action films and a longing for companionship. It’s a creepy little flick and one of my personal favorites so far this year. So now we have a copy on DVD to give away to one lucky reader, provided by the folks at Revolver Entertainment! As I said, Tony loves nothing more than to curl up on the couch in his council estate flat and watch an old action flick on VHS. All you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment telling what old action flick you would want to watch if you found yourself as Tony’s guest. Easy as that! The winner will be chosen at random on April 24th and the contest is only open to residents of the U.S. (sorry, postage is expensive!)
When I decided to dedicate six weeks to Satan themed films I decided to ask Terri, a.k.a. GoreGirl, from GoreGirl’s Dungeon, to do a guest review of one of her favorite devil flicks. She chose The Devil Rides Out, which I’m glad she did seeing as how I’ve actually never seen it. That will soon change, as it’s going to the top of my Netflix queue after reading her review! If you’re not familiar with GoreGirl’s Dungeon you should be. She’s honestly one of my favorite bloggers, her taste in horror films is top-notch (check out her entire month dedicated to Italian horror from March – great fucking stuff!) and she’s welcome in the Basement anytime. So check out the review and then head over to the Dungeon! – Murphy
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968)
I am a huge fan of Hammer Films and The Devil Rides Out, in my opinion, is the studio’s greatest masterpiece! The film is based on the novel by Dennis Wheatley, and stars the awesome Christopher Lee, who actually gets to play the good guy for a change! Hammer brought in their number one director for this one and cast Charles Gray as the menacing Mocata, who turns out to be a most worthy adversary to Lee’s Duc de Richleau. Both men have an incredible presence! The Devil Rides Out is classic horror fun for the whole family!
When Simon fails to show up for his yearly reunion with Duc de Richleau and Rex Van Ryn, his deceased fathers friends, the two men decide to drop by uninvited. Simon is hosting thirteen guests of the “Astrological Society” which they soon learn is actually a satanic cult led by the powerful Mocata. They kidnap Simon and take him back to Duc de Richleau’s estate but they can’t outrun Mocata’s powerful grip on the boy and he easily escapes. Rex Van Ryn recognizes a woman at the party named Tanith and seeks her out to help them find Simon. The group takes refuge with de Richleau’s niece Marie, her husband Richard and their daughter Peggy. With Duc de Richleau’s knowledge of the white arts he creates a circle of protection for them. Tanith and Simon await their final initiation and the group is forced to battle the unimaginable to protect them.
When I say it’s fun for the whole family I mean that literally. There is no swearing, nudity or gore in this film. Like the book it was based on, the film takes place in the 1930’s so even the fashions were conservative. There isn’t even any of that classic Hammer cleavage in this one! There is however a rock solid story, great performances, and some of the most amazing set pieces I’ve ever laid eyes on. Granted the effects look pretty hokey by today’s standards, but I find that shit charming. Terence Fisher directs The Devil Rides Out with plenty of style and thrills and it’s perfect pace kept the action moving along beautifully. He wastes no time getting in to the story. Within the first ten minutes of the film we know that Simon is practicing the black arts.
Duc de Richleau has his suspicions about the “Astrological Society” which are confirmed when he insists on going to check out Simon’s conservatory. A huge pentagram design covers the observatory’s floor and the design is continued on the walls but it is the sound of chickens that really tips Duc de Richleau off. He whips open a cupboard to find two chickens in a basket! Clearly there are satanic shenanigans afoot! This is just one among many great scenes in the film. There is a delightful black mass where Mocata summons the Goat of Mendes and a fun, high-energy climax. But one of the most effective scenes is the lengthy section that takes place inside the pentagram of protection where Mocata throws every trick in the book at the quartet to draw them out. It’s Christopher Lee and Charles Gray’s inspired performances that add the final ingredient that makes The Devil Rides Out an enduring classic.
‘The Devil Rides Out’ doesn’t have the nudity, gore or hysterics of other satanic sub-genre flicks (by the way, I am a huge fan of many of those too!). But this one holds an extra special place in my black heart for being one of my earliest memories of Satan-themed theatrics. And Hammer films were the Gateway drug in my lifelong addiction to all that is horror. This is a wicked fun film and comes highly recommended!
Directed By: Terence Fisher
Starring: Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Nike Arrighi, Leon Greene, Patrick Mower, Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, Sarah Lawson, Paul Eddington, Rosalyn Landor, Russell Waters
Reviewed By: Terri from GoreGirl’s Dungeon
Alucarda starts off with little baby Alucarda being born and immediately being handed over to a spooky disheveled creep to bring to the orphanage. Her mother is left to writhe on a bale of hay, make funny faces and listen to the spooky sounds coming from… well, nowhere really. Let the credits roll, and we find ourselves at said orphanage fifteen years later where young Justine is being dropped off to live after her parent’s deaths. The orphanage is run by a convent of nuns who wear a sort of bloody tampon meets marshmallow outfit. Here we briefly meet Dr. Oszek and his blind daughter, and Justine’s new room-mate, Alucarda.
Alucarda and Justine hit it off immediately and go running through the forest giggling and tickling each other as all young orphan girls should. A gypsy funeral passes and Alucarda shows her inner goth angst as she comments about how “everybody has to die, but there can be happiness beyond death.” More frolicking and giggle ensues until they come across a hunchbacked gypsy that looks like a retarded hobbit. He takes them to his camp where he tries to sell them charms and is generally creepy.
Running further into the forest they find a building that from the outside looks like a gorgeous church but the inside reveals that it’s the shit hole Alucarda was born in fifteen years earlier. Here Alucarda professes her love to Justine, the girls make a pact to “love each other to death” and crack open a coffin unleashing all kinds of Satanic hell. This is where the screaming starts. So… much… screaming…
Back at the orphanage Justine passes out during mass and the nuns agree to let Alucarda watch over her when she awakes. In their room Alucarda has a fit screaming out “Beelzebub” and spinning in a circle like a possessed screeching top. She tears a crucifix off of Justine’s neck, screams about Satan and who should appear out of nowhere? The creepy hunchback of course, who makes it storm and encourages yet more screaming from Alucarda. This is where it all gets good, as Alucarda, now naked, screams for Satan and the hunchback strips Justine down and kneels them both down to perform a blood pact with the girls. He slices their hands and breasts, making them taste each other’s blood. This scene only hints at the lesbian greatness that this film could have erupted into at this point. There’s some soft, and bloody, smooching and Alucarda licking blood off of Justine’s cut breast, but that’s about it. Oh, and yes, Justine is yelling. There really is more screaming, yelling and shouting at the devil than even 1983 era Motley Crue could handle.
Two great scenes follow, as we go back and forth between a gypsy Satanic ritual/orgy and Sister Angelica praying for the soul Justine. In fact she prays so hard sh sweats, and cries blood. These two scenarios are two of the most powerful in the film. At the ritual orgy a guy in a giant devil goat mask shows up and wanders through the throngs of humping Satanists, randomly touching and repositioning them! Meanwhile, back at the convent Sister Angelica has prayed and bled hard enough to be levitated off the ground. These are the scenes that make Alucarda really shine.
This is also the point that I realized My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult sampled Alucarda on the song “The Devil Does Drugs.” Sweet.
The girls interrupt a bible study by chanting about Satan and Dr Oszek is called in to figure out the situation. While Justine is being leached by the doctor, Alucarda is verbally abusing a priest during confession and grabbing at his package provoking a group flogging and the decision to perform an exorcism. But of course.
Alucarda is full of overacting and silly characters and that’s what makes it so much fun. But there are scenes that are just brilliant, the floating nun and the orgy scenes that I’ve already mentioned, are two of them. The exorcism scene is pure screaming ridiculousness and Justine does not live through it. Alucarda, who is screaming at the priest that they will all die soon, is punched out while tied to a giant wooden x in what is the laugh out loud moment of the film. This scene also boasts the line “they must come back to the bosom of the holy church”, which is the greatest line ever, and I’m not even sure why! The actual exorcism itself resembles acupuncture and is broken up by the doctor coming in to preach science over superstition. He also releases Alucarda and brings her home to take care of her. Apparently, the doctor’s decision-making skills are majorly lacking as he lets his blind daughter stay with her in her room. Alucarda takes an immediate liking to her and it looks like Justine has been replaced, and the body’s still warm!
The doc is called back to the convent as Justine’s body has disappeared and one of the sisters is found mysteriously burned to death. This last act is by far the bloodiest, with the dead nun coming back to life to be decapitated and Justine rising naked from a blood filled coffin to thrash at Sister Angelica and be burned by holy water while biting a hunk out of the sister’s neck. There is also the finale where Alucarda sets half the convent’s inhabitants on fire, Carrie White at the prom style.
Alucarda isn’t as sleazy as some of the Satan/possession films of its time, and the over acting and the massive, massive amount of screaming does get to be a bit much, but overall Alucarda is one of the best of its kind. It keeps you interested throughout, and who doesn’t love to watch a tampon/marshmallow clad nun burst into flames?
Chris over at The Day After blog has started a series of monthly contests to win prints of his artwork. What he’s doing is really cool and different though, because every month he’s going to pick a different member of the Horror Blogger Alliance and ask a question about a post on their blog. It’s a pretty cool way of exposing people to blogs they may not know of, and a different take on the way most people run their contests. I’m totally honored and excited that Chris chose Basement Screams as the first blog in this series. It’s a question about my review of Satan’s Wife, so head over to The Day After, get the info, enter the contest and win yourself some fantastic art!