The Duc de Richleau, Rex Van Ryn and Simon Aron have an annual
get-together, but this time nobody has seen Simon for around
six months. The other two arrive at his house to find him
hosting an unusual party for guests he doesn't even know.
Overhearing conversation and noticing certain changes to the
decor of the house, Richleau realises these are devil worshippers
led by a dangerous man called Mocata. Rendering Simon unconscious
the two friends flee the house, moving him to the relative
safety of a property owned by Richard, another acquaintance.
Mocata's dark powers are strong, however, and Simon goes missing
forcing the others to trace the location of an intended ceremony
of the circle of thirteen who intend to re-baptise Simon as
a disciple of the devil himself. Although Richleau's knowledge
of the arts is great, even he is hard-pressed to protect the
others from deadly mystic reprisals...
Devil Rides Out,
from 1968, is based on another of Dennis Wheatley's best-selling
fictional occult novels. In a bold move to cast against type,
Christopher Lee plays Richleau the good guy (hooray!). It's
no exaggeration to say this is one of the best performances
I have seen from Lee. Marvellously formal but understated;
the perfect hands-on educated scholar. Other faces you might
recognise here are Charles Gray as Mocata, Patrick Mower as
Simon, and Paul Eddington as Richard - all good performances.
is the second time in as many reviews that I have mentioned
Richard Matheson; this great and innovative writer (of such
classics as Duel, The Incredible Shrinking Man,
Hell House, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, and many
others) wrote the screenplay for this one, brilliantly adapting
the novel to a fast-moving and enjoyable romp through the
dark realms of the other side. There are a number of set pieces
(the party, the ceremony in the woods, the hypnotism and two
near deaths, the attack in the protective circle and the main
climax), displaying a good experience of just what makes a
film like this work. The major scenes would not work half
as well without the connecting scenes and particularly the
illusions of temporary sanctuary.
in-depth knowledge of the black arts and how to combat them
is convenient, as are the disappearances he makes to research
something so that Mocata can mentally attack the weaker parties
the moment his back is turned. But as without this you'd have
a looser and weaker story I for one won't be complaining.
Another shining gem from Hammer. More please.
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