|Index||10 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS INCLUDED Throughout the Seventies Bernard Launois was gainfully employed by the notorious Eurocine company- he was a bit part actor in their productions 'Pigalle Crossways of Illusions', 'Racket on Pleasure' and the Rosalba Neri vehicle '2 Males for Alexa'. By the Eighties Launois was into the directing bag, resulting in a few comedies and this hard to forget absurdist horror film- one of few of that ilk to come from France during the period. Our Bernard's co-director was Claude Plaut, better known as Olivier Mathot- a white haired, bespectacled actor who was also part of Eurocine's repertory company of actors (Mathot also directed-without credit parts of Eurocine's Cannibal Terror). Erroneously referred to as a riff on the once popular 'Nazi-Zombie' theme in some quarters - its probably not for want of trying- but that is one of the few pies Launois' multigenred yarn doesn't have its fingers in. Devil Story ('Il Etait une fois le diable')- begins with what could easily pass as a spoof of slasher films - a retarded fellow charmingly referred to later as 'a gargoyle' but billed as 'du monstre' stomps out campers, joggers and anyone stupid enough to ask a freakoid dressed as a Nazi for directions- blunt, bloody death is abound in this opening passage. Honeymooning couple Marcel Portier & Veronique Renaud look set to become his next victims when their car breaks down in the French countryside, but instead Renaud is hypnotically drawn to an eerie thundering sound emanating from a mountain- before being attacked by an evil low flying black cat (thrown at her from off camera). In classic horror movie tradition the storm and the rain force the couple to spend the night in a sinister old chateau. Its owner is a macho- gun obsessed old man who relates to the couple how strange things tend to happen in these parts especially 'before or during or after the Equinox'. His anecdote wildly cuts to shots of men in thrift store Napoleonic outfits- they were (he explains) turn of the century trouble-makers who sent a ship crashing into the local cliffs. The couple are also warned about the nasty old woman, her daughter that no one has ever seen and her idiot son ('Du Monstre' from the beginning) 'he's misshapen you say, I say more likely he's a monster'. That night the chateau residents are woken by a black horse outside, no normal horse this, its 'the devil's own mount' and the bane of the chateau owners existence who grabs a shotgun and runs into the night after it. Miss Renaud too is terrorised by this black beauty from hell, when not being a rocket scientist she takes a stroll in a nightie and a yellow raincoat. Eventually she finds herself at the mercy of the mad woman and her gargoyle son- who try to bury her alive because she resembles ol'gargoyle features' dead sister. The girl finds an unlikely saviour in the devil horse- who arrives just in time to give 'du monstre' a good kick where it hurts, before knocking part of his head off and drop-kicking him through a church wall. But wait folks theres more..... the mysterious mountain that had fascinated the girl cracks open- out comes the crashed ship from the old man's tale and what was the ship carrying? why its none other than an Egyptian mummy! Soon 'la momie'- is stating his place in Launois' monster bash terrorising the perpetually hysterical Renaud, vomiting blue liquid and resurrecting du monstre's dead sister who does indeed resemble Renaud (same actress/different wig). Ignoring the fleeing girl and the half dead monstre this odd couple walk off hand in hand- cute in a macabre way. Rich in incident, Devil Story climaxes with a stand-off between the mummy and the cranky chateau owner 'screw the Mummy.... what I want is that god damn horse'- before a Dead of Night-esque twist. Devil Story is generally as trashy and unsubtle as Eurocine's own stab at horror films- although its infinit ely more ambitious. An eye for anti-social details like the Mummy walking on a man's chest, making his insides squeeze out, the gargoyle-man pursuing the girlie with his brains exposed plus an eccentricity of having characters hemorrhaging in dramatic slow-motion means that the film isn't for the squeamish but its not bereft of humour either- whether the latter was intentional however remains a moot point. Devil Story is undeniably dumb, silly and makes as much sense as walking backwards down a crowded street. Greatly amusing, never the less, is exposition featuring the chateau owner chasing the horse around a field- randomly firing his shotgun- odder still he always misses his target despite spending an entire day and night attempting otherwise (look out for the priceless shot where the horse runs behind him while he shoots in the opposite direction!). More pastiche than parody, energetic yet very heavy handed in its hi-jinks, Devil Story works best when its drawn to recreate the most exaggerated horror movie scenarios- happy to play exactly like you imagined luridly advertised horror movies would be like before you were old enough to see them. Unreleased in English speaking territories despite a dubbed version existing (although dubbing isn't the films best attribute offering undecipherables like 'I'm gonna give the belly a buckshot'). For a film that thrives on spectacle Launois' sole feature in horror mode remains something of an invisible man- a shame as Devil Story has a vitality that any blood and thunder horror movie would be proud of.
A four out of ten (4/10) is a good score for a bad movie that while
isn't actually bad enough to warn folks away from, it isn't good enough
to risk your reputation by advocating it as better than average. That
would actually be about the worst score you could give a movie like
this -- average -- because it's one of those movies that will either
tickle your geek nerve or rub you the wrong way. It is ineptly made,
incoherently edited, aimlessly plotted, unconvincingly staged, lacking
in subtext or any sense of meaningful artifice of film as a craft, and
the special effects "suck". My favorite is when they show people up
close bleeding to death and you can see the action of a hand pump
shooting the fake blood everywhere.
And yet the movie nonetheless still has something going on in it that I didn't think the French were capable of, namely a sense of humor about how to make art -- this is one of the funniest horror movies I've yet encountered. The best scenes in the film involve airborne attacks by a flying demonic kitty. Then there is the guy in the zombie mask dressed in Boy George's old uniform, shuffling around the French countryside randomly killing people in brutal manners just for the hell of it, apparently. He uses a knife, a shotgun, and one of those spiked gloves they wore in MAD MAX that will split someone's head open like a grapefruit if you punch them hard enough. There is also a mummy, a possessed zombie babe who looks like Soiuxie of The Banshees fame, and a pretty blonde woman (Véronique Renaud in what was sadly her only screen appearance) running around in her underwear, a raincoat and Wellington boots; We need more of this in films today.
There is also a retired war hero of some sort wandering around with what appears to be the same shotgun the zombie guy has, an old hag of a witch who it turns out controls the zombie & is engaged in some kind of task to trap people in the ground, and finally the horse. The horse is perhaps the biggest mystery in the film, it's role within the context of the story is obviously allegorical rather than literal, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what the point of it was other than to allow the director to repeatedly use a sound clip of the horse whinnying. After about the three hundred and fifth whinny you too will wonder what is going on here if you have not already become annoyed & gotten on with your life. But stick with it, this one's worth the effort.
The film is an enigma: It makes no sense, and in that way is very French in nature. I like how it explores the most mundane, unremarkable locations in the French countryside, appearing to have been filmed for the most part on public land when nobody else was around. It was also made for about $25,000 if even by the looks of it, and is in fact SO low budget that a stage hand actually had to toss the demonic attack kitty through the air to simulate it's frenzied assaults. But they managed to find a nice French castle to film for some atmospheric exteriors (complete with ominously hilarious Bach organ music), the movie has a kind of nihilistic aura to it where everyone dies & evil prevails, and there's some genuinely "EWWW!" inducing gore as the zombie guy slowly gets shot to pieces, bleeds grape jelly from the mouth, and keeps right on a-shufflin.
In other words, if the movie had some random gratuitous nudity & the mummy shot laser beams out of it's eye sockets, this film would pretty much have it all. It's easily the most enjoyable horror romp to come out of France since ZOMBIE LAKE, which gets the poo-poo from purists just because Jean Rollin was too snooty to accept the fact that he actually made a movie that was FUN. This one is too, though it doesn't make any sense & probably wasn't meant to. You can do that sometimes in the movies and it isn't necessarily a bad thing.
After watching this I wondered if the director had actually ever seen a
film before. Because this seems to ignore any and all of the
conventions of film making we've come to expect. Plot, character
development, subtext, all are dashed against the rocks of chaos here.
The movie starts with a mutant dressed in Nazi attire madly tearing his way out of a tent. We then have a prolonged shot of the victim of the mutant bleeding on the ground. Then as the mutant storms of into the woods to kill some one else his foot gets caught on the tent rope and he scuffles with it. Was that intentional? I don't know but they left it in. That question "Was that intentional?" is something I found myself asking a lot throughout the entire movie.
This is one of those film that has to be seen to be believed. There's a demonic cat that lives in the mountains. There's an old witch that controls the Nazi mutant. There's an old man with a shotgun that seems to have an endless supply of bullets. There's an Egyptian mummy that comes out of an old galleon which is magically drawn from the inside of a mountain by a devil horse.
I Liked it. Despite hearing myself sighing throughout I would definitely watch it again.
Devil Story (1985)
*** (out of 4)
If you're looking for a "story" then you're not really going to find it here. The film starts off with a deformed man/creature killing anyone he comes across while grunting like a nut. The story then goes to a dark castle where a mummy is running around and there's an old legend dealing with wreck ships. All of this is happening as a crazy man keeps shooting at a black horse and a blonde woman tries to escape something. Oh yeah, there's a black cat running around as well.
DEVIL STORY is without a doubt one of the strangest movies that you're ever going to see. I had never heard of the movie before getting a preview of it on a Facebook group and from here I read a couple reviews that made the film seem like one of the craziest ever made. I read these wild reviews and thought to myself that there's no way the film could live up to the hype but it actually met that hype and surpassed it. DEVIL STORY is a film that will be impossible to forget once you see it.
Jeez, where do you start? The film begins with some rather campy murder scenes but director Bernard Launois at least knows that horror fans want gore so each stabbing has all sorts of red stuff shooting out in just about every direction possible. After a few murders the film then goes to a Gothic style, which really reminded me one TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD. The mummy itself looked quite good and we're given several good scenes with it including one great one where it gets its faced ripped only to have white goo start to go everywhere.
The film is really, really surreal and often times it doesn't make a bit of sense. Scenes happen that don't add up and then you wonder what the hell it is you're watching. I'm not going to ruin the ending but it just kinda knocks you upside the head and you don't know what to think. There's not any nudity but that doesn't take away from the exploitation factor. The gore level and flat-out weirdness is just unlike anything I've seen before and I like to think that I've seen all sorts of weird films. DEVIL STORY is certainly one of a kind.
This French art-house snoozer has to be seen to be believed.Nonsensical and completely absurd plot involves perpetually grunting man-freak-beast dressed in Nazi-garb,medieval castle,a mummy and an annoyingly loud black stallion,which is hunted by the old man.If you have seen Norbert Georges Mountier's inept "Ogroff" you should watch "Devil Story" just to compare these two grade Z flicks from the depths of low-budget grave.The script of "Devil Story" is an incoherent mess with plenty of blood and gore.Unfortunately the action is pretty dull and moves at snail's pace even during its short 72 minutes time.If you are a fan of "Ogroff" or "Sexandroide" give this one a look.5 out of 10.
Again this is one of those movies that everybody wants to see but can't find. it is a french movie never released on DVD and only available on VHS copies. But still if you search The Web you will be able to find some copies. As I watched it I just didn't know what I have seen. Some parts are too long, some parts are gory, someparts are childish. For sure it's a extreme low budget flick, dubbed in English with Greek subs. it's still strange that most of the OOP's and well sought after movies are available in Greece on VHS dubbed English with the unremovable subs. That doesn't bother me, it's the movie that you want anyhow. The parts too long is the part with the cat. He still appears but nothing really happens during that time. The gory parts are the killings, it is a for a low budget and a flick of that era rather gory. The killing itself is mostly done off camera but the result is shown in all their glory. Childish for me was the mummy, anyway. And why that man is trying to shoot that horse and isn't able to do it is still an enigma. Also being made in France it's strange that their is no nudity involved. But still, when the movie starts you will keep watching, even the dull parts.
French horror has given us some of the most elegant, most poetic horror in the genre. Franju, Rollin and others, they of tender velvet fingers to caress the soul. Devil Story is a long way away from them. A million blood spattered, brain curdled miles away in fact. Its plot seems less considered than the congealed vomit of an all night geek brainstorming session fuelled by counterfeit Gauloise and antifreeze laden plonk, its script a furied migraine ravaged dash to pull all together in time for filming. There's a deformed headcase in soldier gear who likes to kill everyone he meets, a horse that may be the devil, a creepy old lady, Gothic castle and more, and yet by some alchemy that surpasses even the most shredded synapses it all more or less holds together in the end. No doubt this alchemy plays significant role in making the film work, but much credit goes to the unrelenting attitude of director Bernard Launois on display (this is apparently his only horror but he should have made more). No matter what the absurdity, the film remains focused. Blood spray clearly from somebody pumping a tube? Keep the camera on it. Supposedly dead person clearly still breathing? Who cares? A mummy that appears wrapped in gauze rather than bandages and either has a codpiece or a big schlong? Artistic license! There's a fearless drive that renders all such silliness near irrelevant, and on occasions of an effectively gruesome effect the camera really lingers, the wounded don't get away with dignity here and it conveys a nice brutality. And altogether the no holds barred approach to plot and visuals pays off, however inept there's an aura of unhingement here that at times becomes really quite potent. Not quite as potent as Orgroff (its closest brother in French trash horror cinema), but much better ordered and marginally less inept, with technique that at times could pass for pretty much sane in a less demented product. Basically this is a film for select audiences, more or less just the hardiest of insane trash fiends. But for anyone dedicated enough to have read this far, this is a film for you. Find it, watch it, and watch Orgroff too, the order matters not so much. You can thank me later...
The French are known for many splendid things: filigree literature; brash, over-gesticulating women; odoriferous cheese; cloying food, seeped in buttery-goodness, and Serge Gainsbourg; they don't do horror; and they don't do rock music; with the lone exception of 'Trust', their rock music is a truly abject experience; which neatly segue ways into this singular, and wildly incongruous effort from la Belle France. If arch-poseur and irritating cinematic twunt Godard had masterminded this turgid opus, it would be hailed as an absurdist triumph, but he didn't, so they don't. Gallic horror, is at best, not very good, really. (I adore Jean Rollin, but I consider him a master of Gothic erotica, rather than straight horror) So 'Devil Story' is a profoundly anomalous affair; whether one will actually enjoy it, depends wholly on said individual's low tolerance for all the grain alcohol you would have consumed prior to viewing this, whilst maintaining a vertiginous tolerance for the film's lugubrious pacing and profoundly nonconformist narrative. There will be those that LOVE the short pants off it; along with an equal amount of splenetic, irk-faced individuals that won't.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Searching round on Ebay for any French Horror DVDs,I was pleased to
stumble on a near forgotten French zombie movie,which led to me getting
ready to read the devils story.
Getting out of a camping tent,a Nazi mutant kills a fellow camper and heads towards the main road.As the Nazi mutant heads towards the road,a young couple's car breaks down near an old dark house.Knocking on the door,the couple are welcomed to stay the night by the old couple living there.As they start to relax for the night,the old couple begin to reveal myths about a Nazi mutant and a mummy haunting the area.
View on the film:
For the screenplay of the film,writer/director Bernard Launois offers a delightfully deranged mix of mutant,supernatural and evil cat (!),with Launois going from a demon horse that no one is able to kill,to the evil kitties appearance leading to an extremely left- field ending.Kicking things off with the Nazi mutant grabbing a less than happy camper,Launois turns the creeping terror into something hilariously rubbish,thanks to Launois giving the mutant sound effects which make it sound like a blocked drain,and dragging the death scenes well past there sell by date,which leads to Devil Story showing that the Devil really has the best (unintended) Comedy tunes.
That's French (it takes place in the French countryside)and that's a horror film, so it is accordingly a real turkey. And this one is incredibly bad: it gathers devilish animals, a monster borrowed from a slasher or Texas chainsaw Massacre, a mummy, a living dead, and especially a nonsensical editing. The story is just absurd and the actors appalling. Well a must see if you want to have a great laugh. Of course this is a rare z movie, so you have to deserve it. It's not very far from Jean rollin, it is much worse actually (and that was hard to be!), but at least you never get bored: it's too dumb and completely crazy. Yes, that is the craziest horror French movie ever.
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