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Devils of Darkness has a promising sounding title, it's British and it has the typical 60's gothic theme. Yet, it quickly got ignored over the years and it's rarely ever mentioned. Probably because it wasn't made by either of the 3 biggest production companies in that time. The Brit horror industry was ruled by Hammer, Amicus or Tigon and (almost) all their production received cult followings and critics attention. Of course, that can't be the only reason because a good film would be remembered no matter who produced it. Devils of Darkness is anonymous in all fields Not one aspect in the entire film is worth remembering. It mixes vampirism with other occult elements. A satanic cult, led by Count Sinistre, kidnaps innocent people in order to sacrifice them. An author tries to reveal the secrets and comes into contact with the leader. Devils of Darkness has an extremely promising opening sequence (even before the credits are presented) and the hope you'll see a intriguing occult horror film is falsely raised. After the atmospheric opening, the film quickly falls into boredom with endless speeches and tedious characters. The tension is pretty much non-existent and the few promising horror sequences are too succinct. The beautifully shot cult rites seem to be inspired by Roger Corman's the Masque of the Red Death, but still they're the only sequences worth mentioning. The cast isn't very spectacular, neither. Carol Gray is worth a mention since her beauty reminded me about the typical Hammer sirens. Hubert Noël, the bad guy with a dreadful French accent, is too untalented to make the film memorable and so is director Lance Comfort.
I enjoyed the movie immensely. I had wanted to see it since I was a kid
having read about it in SHRIEK! a short lived British horror movie mag.
so, 35 years later I finally get to see it and I was not disappointed. It's not a great film, but it certainly shines above many of the horror films that were churned out during the same era (a la Blood of the Vampire 1958). The atmosphere and mood of the film is just right.
The only truly annoying thing about the film to me was the beatnik-style music.
Yes, it is a Hammer knockoff, but it was one of the better ones. (Even the later Hammer films were "Hammer knockoffs.")
I say give it a chance! If you don't you will not know what you are missing.
Despite being a longtime fan of the British horror film, it was only recently that I learned of the existence of 1965's "Devils of Darkness," and now that I have seen it, I know why. This product of Pinewood Studios is a fairly undistinguished effort that just barely manages to entertain and is never even remotely chilling. In it, William Sylvester (who psychotronic-film fans will recall from such genre favorites as "Gorgo," "The Devil Doll" and "2001") runs afoul of a French vampire called Count Sinistre (born in 1588) and his immortal gypsy bride, Tania, while on holiday in Brittany. The filmmakers apparently felt that a vampire wasn't enough for this picture, so threw in a pack of devil worshippers as well, plus some voodoo trimming. Unfortunately, the resultant stew never quite comes together, and the fact that Hubert Noel as the Count is hardly a threatening presence only compounds the problem. A subplot that has him endeavoring to recover a missing talisman simply peters out by the film's end, and the picture's resolution is waaay too rushed and abrupt, I feel. On the plus side, Sylvester is as sturdy and dependable as ever, and the film's production values are fairly high. The picture contains a couple of strange British beatnik party sequences showcasing some subtly suggested marijuana consumption and lesbianism, and an energetic and atmospheric gypsy camp intro opens the film promisingly. Ultimately, however, "Devils of Darkness" turns out to be a rather tame, blah picture; not bad, but certainly nothing great. If you've seen all the horror films put out by Hammer and Amicus Studios, do by all means give it a try. This picture really is for British horror film completists only.
I had never heard of this one when it was announced as part of the
revived "Midnite Movies" line of DVD releases paired with the renowned
WITCHCRAFT (1964); frankly, I was disappointed that this obscure title
was chosen over, say, NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (1962) which would have been
the ideal companion to Don Sharp's film. In any case, it did seem
rather intriguing from the colorful stills posted on Internet sites
which reviewed the disc(s) but, all in all, it emerged as pretty goofy,
with risible accents and several instances of wildly dated 60s
modishness; in fact, an unexpected degree of camp is present in the
lengthy pre-credits gypsy dance sequence, when depicting the
'degenerate' lifestyle of a group of ostensible bohemians (read bitchy
lesbians and buffoonish, tipsy gentlemen) and the climactic Satanic
The narrative, then, provides an unholy mishmash with little rhyme or reason of popular horror themes: vampirism, witchcraft and, most bafflingly, body-snatching are all called upon by the oddly female screenwriter. Clearly, this was made by people with no proper knowledge of genre convention: consequently, the end result is aloof and forgettable, if undeniably good-looking (particularly prevalent are the vivid, velvet robes sported by the Satanists) and eminently watchable; in essence, this lies somewhere between the generic output of Hammer and AIP. Predictably, most of the characters initially skeptical author William Sylvester comes into contact with turn out to be members of the devil/vampire cult. In the same vein (pardon the pun!), the police inspector investigating the various mysterious deaths and disappearances starts off as hostile but gradually becomes sympathetic not to mention, a believer in the supernatural! Unfortunately, the film's slow-moving 88 minutes (misprinted as an even heftier 124 on the DVD back cover!) are capped by a rushed and altogether weak climax.
Sylvester makes for a likable if wooden lead; he had already appeared in another notable horror film DEVIL DOLL (1964) and would later feature in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Hubert Noel, though lacking most of the qualities one typically associates with a bloodsucker (not that "Le Comte Sinistre" sees much action in this respect since all he seems concerned about is to recover his precious talisman!), along with Carole Gray (as the intended gypsy bride of the vampire who, for whatever reason, is jilted by him in favor of the former!), make a rather arresting pair of villains. The belatedly-introduced Tracy Reed is a striking, redheaded heroine she is Carol Reed's niece, Oliver Reed's cousin and director Anthony Pelissier's daughter, and is best-known for portraying George C. Scott's bikini-clad secretary in DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)! Curiously enough, as I lay watching, I pondered on how it would have effected the film had Gray and Reed exchanged roles...
This is basically a Hammer Films knock-off, in terms of set decoration
and production design. The result is a nice-looking movie with a
muddled, incoherent story, weak acting, and limp direction. It's not
exactly excruciating to sit through, but it's one of those films that
makes you feel you could be doing something better with your time.
The plot is a mixture of vampire and devil worship, and although there are one or two good moments, there's not enough substance to make it particularly interesting.
If you're fond of campy/cheesy B-picture horror, you might want to give this one a look, but I wouldn't put it at the top of your list.
Much better than often reported, this beautifully photographed British
horror is a well upholstered turn down the familiar vampire path,
enlivened by some delicious tongue in cheek. Directed by cult director
Lance Comfort, (see Brian MacFarlane's monograph on his career) the
film opens with a dazzling dance sequence set amidst a mid forest gypsy
encampment, interrupted by the first burst of horror--accompanied by a
swooping bat and a gust of wind.
These forest sequences are visually arresting, and include an eerie torch light parade photographed in reflection from a lake's surface.
As for the story, it concerns a modern day male vampire, (equipped with Louis Jourdan accent and beautifully cut suits) who turns out to be reincarnated from the ancient past.
Despite some dull detective sequences, (of the type that slow down Bava's "Blood and Black Lace") the picture manages an effective array of diverse settings including forest sequences, a country manor house, a catacomb lair, a jammed to the rafters antique shoppe, an artists' atelier, the reading room of the British Museum and a groovy bachelorette pad that is host to one of the screen's all time campiest cocktail parties.
Indeed, this sequence, replete with the Watusi, and Frug, and featuring an array of cigarette puffing (with holders!) extras that seem to have been recruited between takes from the sets of "Darling" and "A Taste of Honey", (one keeps looking for Julie Christie to appear) is guaranteed to elicit howls. And if that doesn't catch you, please note that Diana Decker's wardrobe had the female audience cooing at a recent screening.
Moreover, the climax, featuring a cave in which destroys the vampire clan, is well staged and shot.
Picture seems influenced by Don Sharp's superb "Kiss of the Vampire," and while it doesn't hold a candle to that stellar feather in Hammer's cap, it does emerge as an interesting and zesty contemporary take on the same theme.
This is one of those independent productions that kept appearing in the
UK in the 60s and early 70s. Think Tigon and Tyburn film producers.
Like many of them they made only one or two films and then disappeared
again. Hammer's success with the Dracula franchise inspired this one.
Its an interesting film that instead of the Gothic heavy appearance of
Dracula this film transplants itself to contemporary France and
England. Its starts promisingly with a gypsy wedding being interrupted
by a rude bat. This is a metamorphosed form of a buried count who was
interned alive for practicing the dark arts. He has arrived without an
invitation to claim the intended bride as his own. This is rather
heartless of him since he is taking the would be wife of one of his
loyal servants. Having made her immortal he proceeds to gather a coven
of worshipers as though being invincible wasn't enough for his ego, he
need people to worship him too. Hubert Noël was successful at playing
minor roles in film for which he seemed very suited. Here is thrown as
the villain in the lead role. He may have th appearance of suave French
vampire but he lacks the presence of a Dracula and his accent is an
unintended joy. In addition there is Tracy Reed as the usual hapless
victim and once again a minor actress is thrown into something too deep
resulting in her never taking another lead role.
The film ends predictably with the hero doing most of the right things. But this is a pale imitation of a Roger Corman film. I found this feature only the more interesting having read descriptions of it and seen a painting with references to the film. On a couple of film and vampire sites the then writer and psychic Stephen Armourae described the film and gave particular attention to Tracy Reed of whom he was clearly somewhat enamored including her in a column on Erotica. Later I saw an intriguing painting by him entitled 'Catherine'. Having then seen the film and the painting that appears in that as the vampire is also an artist I could see the connection and it wake me up from falling asleep. The difference being that Armourae has played & from what has appeared in print and net perhaps more a vampire better than Noel. If your in front of a TV and this comes on a satellite channel try and stay awake for Tracy Reed and a pretty hot painting of her. The rest- see a Hammer movie
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Devils of Darkness" is a semi-decent Gothic entry that has a couple
flaws to it.
Going out rock-climbing, Paul Baxter, (William Sylvester) and Madeline, (Diana Decker) find that the trip is about to be canceled by a neighboring gypsy ceremony. When an accidental death nearly puts an end to the ceremony, she becomes fearful of a curse from the gypsies, which is soon confirmed by a series of strange events happening around them. Getting evidence that a secret cult rather than the gypsies are involved with trying to prevent him from finding the truth, he goes out to investigate and sees that Count Sinistre, (Hubert Noel) is the head of the cult and is responsible for the actions going on. Learning of their intentions with her, he races to stop them from going through with their plans.
The Good News: This here wasn't that bad. It's best elements from the it's Gothic undertones. This one, when it tries to, is really Gothic at times, most notably in the opening assaults on the gypsies. The sight of the bat forcing the coffin open, which slowly opens to reveal a hand emerging from the darkness in a long, drawn-out style as oblivious gypsies party away at a camp nearby. The later attack, where the bat attacks the fleeing members in a heavily wooded area is a marvelous Gothic sequence. The catacomb hideout is fantastic, with long, dark hallways, plenty of twists and turns and the fact that it needs candle-lights to illuminate them allows for some creepy atmosphere. The scenes of the cult at the end are it's best, since there's plenty of cheesy fun to be had from these scenes. The chants, the sacrificial ceremony and the rituals that come into play are purely fun and really entertaining, and there's even some rather fun moments to be had throughout, including the preparations for the ceremony and the fight to get free, which ends on it's lone moment of violence but remains effective nonetheless. These points offer up the film's good points.
The Bad News: There isn't a whole lot wrong with it. The film's main factor against it is that it's just deadly boring. It starts off great with the awakening in the coffin followed by the gypsy attack, but all that occurs from there until the end is absolutely nothing of interest. The film decides to have absolutely everything talked out, and that leads to a never-ending series of scenes where he converses with absolutely everybody about what's going on, and it leads to deadly boredom for most of these scenes. These are mostly taken out of the unending scenes of conversing with the police. It's obvious these are merely time-wasters in the plot sense, being merely answers to keep the protagonist away from the truth. That also severely limits the action as well, making it seem even duller by comparison. The fact that this one also features a vampire that rarely gets to do any sort of vampiric activities is another marginal factor. The vampire comes out here and there but on the whole doesn't do a whole lot to justify the inclusion, as the powers demonstrated seem more suited to a black magic follower over a vampire. These, though, are what really keep the film down.
The Final Verdict: A somewhat decent Gothic entry, there's enough in this one to make it watchable but it's still flawed. Give this one a shot if you're into this kind of film or if there's something about that appeals to you, otherwise then just skip this one altogether.
Today's Rating-PG: Violence
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Writer Paul Baxter (likable William Sylvestor) and his newfound model girlfriend Karin (ravishing redhead beauty Tracy Reed) meet elegant French aristocrat Arman du Moliere (a supremely suave and sinister portrayal by Hubert Noel) while vacationing in rural Brittany. Moliere turns out to be a vampire who abducts Karin so she can be a human sacrifice for the Satanic cult that he's the leader of. Director Lance Comfort, working from a nifty and inspired script by Lyn Fairhurst, relates the compelling story at a steady pace, ably creates a creepy atmosphere, and offers a strong evocation of the remote rustic region. The solid acting from a sturdy cast rates as another substantial plus: Sylvestor and Noel are fine in the leads, with good support from Carole Gray as lusty gypsy Tania, Diana Decker as perky socialite Madeleine Braun, Peter Illing as the huffy, yet laid-back Inspector Illing, and Victor Brooks as the helpful, hard-nosed Inspector Hardwick. Reginald H. Wyer's vibrant cinematography, Bernie Fenton's spooky'n'shuddery score, and the rousing conclusion all further enhance the entertainment value of this enjoyable 60's fright feature.
In Brittany, France, there are a couple strange murders, though the
local police rule the deaths accidental. One is a cave explorer and the
other a young lady who is found drowned--both were British tourists.
Apart from harming the tourist industry, this was also bad because in
reality this was the work of a Satanic vampire cult! When their friend
vows to investigate further, the bodies disappear and it looks like his
investigation is at an end...or is it?
This is yet another British vampire film from the 1960s, though instead of being a Hammer Studios production, it was made at Pinewood Studios. In many ways it is reminiscent of a Hammer film, though the acting and plot are a bit less sophisticated. Still, it's not bad and is watchable--just don't expect a lot of magic or suspense. In particular, the evil Count Sinistre seems a tad wussy and too pretty to be all that threatening.
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