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The Devil Rides Out (1968)

The Devils Bride

The power of darkness is more than just a superstition

Directed by:

Terence Fisher

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 91 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom

Chickens in a basket, diagrams on the floor – it can only mean one thing. No, not ‘Twister’ for poultry – the black arts! Satanism! Or in the words of Christopher Lee’s character Duc de Richleau, “the most dangerous game known to mankind!”. So maybe it is ‘Twister’ after all, then.

Nobody can talk gobbledy-gook quite as convincingly as Lee, and he’s in his absolute element here as the self-taught expert in the occult who uses his knowledge to save a young Patrick Mower from the dark side. If he ever catches Mower in an episode of ‘Emmerdale’, he’ll probably wish he hadn’t bothered. But that can’t be helped now. What’s done is done.

It’s never quite explained what Richleau does when he’s not battling evil itself, but he’s got a butler who calls him “Excellency”, so we can assume he’s not a bin man.

Chief baddie, meanwhile, is Mocata (Charles ’Blofeld’ Gray), a spirit-summoning servant of Beelzebub who looks a bit like an evil John Inman. He runs the local sacrificing-stuff-for-the-Devil club, something our Richleau’s none too happy about – particularly when it means the sudden appearance of giant tarantulas, a skeleton riding a horse and a big bloke dressed only in his boxers. Wonder what it says in all those occult books about the appliance of wedgies?

This Hammer studios adaptation of the classic Dennis Wheatley novel looks more than a little dated these days, of course, and I can’t deny that much of it had me chuckling rather than diving behind the sofa. But the story itself is a good ‘un, and Lee’s performance is quite simply fantastic. Terrence Fisher’s direction, meanwhile, is just stylish enough not to detract from the tale itself, with the atmospherics turned up to compensate for the somewhat shoogly special effects.

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It's Got: A cool car chase to match anything in ‘2 Fast 2 Furious’, and Christopher Lee yelling “Don’t look in his eyes!!!!”

It Needs: The Devil to be a bit less rubbish – he doesn’t even notice when people are hiding in the bushes right next to him.

DVD Extras Just a trailer – but oooooh, what a trailer! DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist

Summary

A Hammer horror classic. It’s not likely to leave anyone shrieking with fear these days, but what it does offer is some great entertainment – in a funny sort of way.

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