Vineyard owner marquis Philippe de Montfaucon is called back to his castle Bellenac because of another dry season. He asks his wife and children to remain in Paris, but they still come ...
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John Llewellyn Moxey
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Vineyard owner marquis Philippe de Montfaucon is called back to his castle Bellenac because of another dry season. He asks his wife and children to remain in Paris, but they still come after him. His wife Catherine de Montfaucon soon discovers that her husband is acting mysteriously and that his employees are following old pagan rituals that call for the life of the marquis himself to save the crops. Written by
"Eye of the Devil" had a very troubled history. Kim Novak was originally cast as the female lead, but production had to be shut down as she proved inadequate to the role's demands (surprise!) and was let go.
The film is about a French nobleman (played by David Niven) who's family fortune is tied to a small village that makes wine. He's called back to the family chateau as the vineyards have been failing for a few years, an announcement ripe with sinister and mysterious overtones. He tells his wife (Deborah Kerr) not to follow him or bring their two children, but soon she does just that, fearing for his safety.
What follows involves ancient pagan rituals, witchcraft, and deadly family secrets that go back centuries and can be handed down to the next generation.
There's a nice thriller in here somewhere, and director J. Lee Thompson manages some creepy scenes here and there. Best are the scenes with a manipulative and hostile Sharon Tate and/or David Hemmings, and one where Kerr is menaced by a group of hooded figures in the woods. Also the ending is properly disturbing.
But for the most part, the film's atmosphere is gloomy and dank, which kills the suspense. It doesn't help that both Deborah Kerr and David Niven are both too mature at this point to be playing parents of small children. Niven looks mostly distracted and Kerr, while capable in her damsel-in-distress role, does a less interesting variation on her brilliant performance in "The Innocents," though in that case the role was far more complex. As for the late Ms. Tate, I'm convinced her voice was dubbed by another actress, but she does cut a very provocative figure.
The film contains too many characters, and not all the plot makes much sense. This is strictly something for British horror fans to watch out of curiosity, or for devotees of Deborah Kerr.
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