THE DEVIL RIDES OUT
Blu Ray/DVD Release 2012
96 minutes approx
Directed by -
Written by -
The Duc de Richleau is concerned about the son of a old colleague and calls in his old friend Rex to find out what is going on with him. What they find is a cult of satanists determined to bring Simon and a young woman into their circle. Rex and de Richleau disrupt that plan, but then find themselves with the full range of dark magic hurled at them through one terrible night.
For a while there Dennis Wheatley was the horror writer du jour and so the fit between his work and Hammer is a natural enough one. Fortunately, the film is blessed by a script from Richard Matheson and some unfussy direction from Terence Fisher, both of which rein in the worst of the studio's excesses to provide a chiller that is more cerebral and less bloody than most of Hammer's usual fare - and all the better for it.
For once, Christopher Lee gets to be something more than just a scary villain, giving a nice performance that threatens to become hammy, but never strays across the line. In fact, his commitment sells the character and the film, not least because he is the man in the know and therefore spends a lot of time as the voice of exposition, especially to dull and bland Rex. Measuring up to this flawed hero is the urbane (and therefore twice as chilling) Charles Gray as Mocata, a satanist you can really believe in.
In fact, the whole premise is fairly easy to believe it, not least because it's all played fairly low key. Apart from a satanic orgy at which a deeply unimpressive man in a goat's mask makes an appearance as the Devil himself, everything plays out on a small scale. The biggest thrills come from four people in a bare room with a chalk mark all that separates them from the terrors of the night, but it's thrilling all the same.
The ending may be a little too pat and the use of dangerous chants seems to solve all problems without major consequence despite everyone being terrified of doing so, but the sense that there was a better and less sentimental ending in there is palpable. It's a flaw, but not a fatal one.
This Studiocanal restoration is excellent, returning the film to all its colourful glory and there are a series of featurettes and extras.
Hammer didn't do a lot of films like THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, which is a shame as it's one that the studio could be rightly proud of.
It's available from October 22nd.Top
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