Thursday, October 4
Oh my gosh, what a good movie. I hope I haven’t peaked with last night’s film and this one. but I can’t see how I could possibly top these two fantastic movies. I’m worried now.
The Devil Rides Out (1968) is a great departure from the Dracula rehashings that Hammer was beginning to release relentlessly at this point in time. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather watch one their craptastic Dracula flicks than, say, almost anything with Nicolas Cage, but it is great to see what else Hammer could do with their impressive creativity and stable of actors besides sticking Christopher Lee in a tux and fangs again.
Here, Lee is a good guy who- wait, let me say that again: Christopher Lee plays the good guy in this film. That was all I needed to know to add it to my playlist.
He is Duc de Richleau, an expert on the occult. When he learns that a dear friend of his is involved with the local Church of Satan (a 401(c)3 organization), he begins a tour de force twenty-four hour show down with the Old Nick himself (not Nicolas Cage, but similar) for his friend’s soul. Lee just owns this film, with his incredibly restrained rage and powerful cheekbones. He grabs each scene he’s in and commands everyone around him by sheer force of a penetrating gaze. More than once during our viewing, I would turn to D and say, “see, you don’t MESS with this man!”
Beyond Lee just tearing it up, the film is scary. Scary! There’s frightening visitations from hellish…things, and mind control, and the narrator from The Rocky Horror Picture Show as Mocato, Satan’s main man in Salisbury.
The DVD was a great package, with trailers, a short documentary on Hammer, and a commentary with Christopher Lee! I listened to a little of it at the beginning, but wanted to focus on the film itself my first time through. What a treat it will be to watch it again with him as my erudite guide.
On a final note, I understand that of all of his films, this one is Christopher Lee’s favorite. I can’t add much to that.
Four Satan-tastic screams.