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