The Devil Rides Out (1968)
User ReviewsReview this title
1930's England and Duc de Ricleau (Lee) finds that his young friend Simon Aron has gotten himself involved with a Satanic cult led by the evil Mocata (Gray). As the Duc and his friends try to save Simon from the cult, Mocata and his followers summon the forces of evil to aid their cause.
It was meant to come out a bit earlier in the 60's, but Satanism, an always iffy subject, would have seen censorship strip Hammer's ideas for the film to the bone. So the studio waited a few more years and finally got the film out a couple of years shy of the 70's. It's a film that now, more than ever, is rightly viewed as not only one of the best film's to have come out of Hammer, but also as one of the best British horror movies ever released. There was much in the film's favour from the off, it had the studio's best director in the chair, the charismatic Christopher Lee in the lead and the talented Matheson (I Am Legend/The Shrinking Man/Hell House) writing the screenplay. The latter of which managing to streamline Wheatley's potent, but long, source material into a fast paced hour and a half movie. It's also, thanks to Wheatley, well researched, which when finding the story is set in more modern times, gives the film an authentic sheen as it rides on into the macabre.
On the surface the plot seems to be a standard good against evil battle, but it's not just a battle, this is a war on terror. Lee's determined, bastion of good, de Ricleau is not just fighting to save the soul of those he cares about, the film makes one feel that it's a battle he must win: for us all. Tho only blessed with the usual standard Hammer budget, the film has immense attention to detail, the power of black magic and the occult is painted vividly, with Fisher ensuring that nothing is hokey, this is serious stuff. The director, too, favouring atmospheric dread over short sharp shocks. What action there is is quality, sure the effects are hardly Oscar winning fare, but the impact is big. So too are the number of memorable scenes that puncture the story, the centrepiece of which is the night our "good" characters spend in floor drawn pentacle, fighting off the forces of darkness, some suggested trickery and terrifying manifestations testing their resolve, with the majestic Lee holding court with virtuous nobility.
The rest of the cast are uniformly excellent, with stand outs being Gray, excelling at silky villainy, even tho he's not on screen a great deal, and Eddington, who neatly plays it deadpan opposed to Lee's serious attempt to drive home the seriousness of what is going on. Noteworthy, too, that it's one of those rare occasions to see Lee playing the good guy. Grant (The Plague of the Zombies) makes wonderful use of the Technicolor, his lensing for the fire and brimstone finale is particularly memorable, and Bernard's score is eerie for the build up sequences and demonically boisterous for the critical moments: one of the best scores to accompany a Hammer film. It's not high cinematic art, and certainly not an overtly horrific film; in that you wouldn't recommend it to the boo-jump thrill seeker, but it's troublingly scary, adult and dripping with cold dread. A picture that closes in on you and challenges the myths and nightmares that lurk in the dark.
Up alongside The Wicker Man and Witchfinder General as one of the true greats of British horror. 9.5/10
Fisher began work on The Devil Rides Out, the first of three Dennis Wheatley adaptations, in the summer of 1967. From the opening credits, an indecipherable mass of occult symbols appearing out of a red mist punctuated with James Bernard's ominous orchestral score, screenwriter Richard Matheson (I Am Legend author and scriptwriter of Roger Corman's Edgar Allen Poe series) sharpens Crowley's prose to create a frighteningly real world of dark forces at work beneath the genteel surface of the English aristocracy. At a reunion of old friends at a country estate, occult expert the Duc de Richelieu (Christopher Lee) and his well-meaning but impulsive lantern-jawed sidekick Rex (Leon Greene) discover their young comrade Simon (Patrick Mower) has become involved in `astrological society', a thinly-veiled satanic cult lead by the charismatic Mocata (Charles Gray). Richelieu and Rex kidnap Simon to prevent his Devil's baptism, but he escapes. Mocata then uses Richelieu's friends Richard (Yes Minister's Paul Eddington) and his family, and Tanith (Nike Arrighi), a young French beauty also marked for baptism, as bait to lure Richelieu to his destruction.
For a studio defined by its reworkings of Dracula and Frankenstein, Mocata is one of Hammer's most frightening monsters. Veteran Shakespearean actor Gray, best remembered these days as the Bond villain in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and the narrator in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), conveys the palpable menace from his cold, unflinching steel-gray eyes and his carefully modulated voice, a master of hypnosis and mind control no doubt based on real-life characters from Wheatley's days in British Intelligence (some say Mocata is smoother version of the `Great Beast', occultist Alistair Crowley, whom Wheatley was acquainted with). Matheson's script changes the Mocata character from a swarthy European figure of Word War 2-era intrigue into an English `gentleman', more forcefully underpinning the tension between England's exterior pastoral elegance and class respectability, and its repressed bacchanalian urges. Wheatley, a British author best known for his black magic tales and costume adventure stories, was an avid collector of occult esoterica and was reportedly delighted with the film, as Matheson's script had expanded on his own research his Black Magic rituals with an eye for detail, drawing on Crowley's writings as well as Sumerian and Egyptian legends, occult and pagan texts.
Of course the film's focus is on the imposing figure of the six foot four Christopher Lee, by 1967 a genre superstar having played Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, the Mummy, Rasputin, even Sherlock Holmes. Lee had in fact pressed Hammer to purchase the rights for Wheatley's novel, and was delighted to play a character on the side of `good' after a decade typecast as Dracula.
Hammer films are characterized by relatively low budgets, compensated by taut direction and expert characterization, and a winning combination of tight studio sets and English country exteriors. The Devil Rides Out utilizes its stagebound scenario to chilling effect: Simon's cold gray observatory turns malevolent purely by adding scratching noises from a cupboard. The budget only lets the film down in its two major setpieces; both the final sacrificial ceremony at Mocata's mansion and the Grand Sabbat, supposedly a grand ritual orgy for Simon and Tanith's intended baptism, veer toward poorly-staged pantomime. When Mocata invokes Satan (`The Goat of Mendes - the Devil himself!') at the Sabbat, the sight of a rather wretched figure with pin-on horns and raccoon eyes tends to blunt the scene's horrific implications. Indeed the film's scariest scene is set in an empty room; Richelieu, Rex and the family take refuge inside a chalk circle and are confronted by a series of apparitions conjured by Mocata. Again the scene is only marred by the final ghastly figure: a horsebound Angel of Death, whose mask drops to reveal a cheap-looking grinning plastic skull.
The Devil Rides Out was an artistic triumph but not a commercial success. Perhaps it was the unfamiliar tone of the film, or the fact Christopher Lee had his fangs filed down; two further Duc de Richelieu adventures starring Lee, Strange Conflict and Gateway To Hell were abandoned. Hammer's next venture after The Devil Rides Out, The Lost Continent (an ambitious reworking of Wheatley's Jules Verne style adventure novel Uncharted Seas) went wildly overbudget and Wheatley was not impressed, citing a number of plot changes by director Michael Carreras. The third Wheatley adaptation, a grotesque updating of To The Devil A Daughter with Richard Widmark and an embarrassed Christopher Lee, was Hammer's horror swansong in 1976, and the company sank soon after. Maybe it was the curse of Dennis Wheatley after all - still, for us horror iconoclasts, we still have The Devil Rides Out, a film that remains after 35 years one the finest examples of the gone but never to be forgotten house of Hammer.
That's all for the better because once again, when need be, Hammer fails in the effects department. I had forgotten how the theater went wild in 1968 while looking at the cheap tarantula effect - was it growing or not, the perspective changed constantly.
Some of the effects are of the "stop the camera" variety, no more convincing here than on "Lost In Space." But still, it is the performances, situations and the dialog that engage us. Christopher Lee, who brought the project to Hammer, seems to be enjoying himself as the Duc de Richleau, finally getting to play a hero. His longtime friend Rex, played by Leon Greene (but voiced by Patrick Allen) is a real stalwart guy, given to punching out windshields when necessary, climbing into car trunks, and throwing a crucifix from a running board to eliminate the specter of the devil himself.
The best scene has Lee and company in a circle in which to protect themselves from the evils sent by Mocata, played by Charles Gray with a suaveness that matches the twinkle of his blue eyes. Mocata tries every trick in the book, including trying to make it appear that the daughter of the household is being threatened by the tarantula, as well as an Angel of Death on horseback (it is a large room). Meanwhile, outside, Rex has a potential female victim tied up for her own good, she later becomes a medium when the previously "threatened" little girl is kidnapped - to take the place of the medium on the sacrificial altar!
Nike Arrighi plays the "medium" - a young woman who was to have been re-baptized as a servant of the devil, but whose life now hangs in the balance between the black magic of Mocata, or the efforts of the Duc de Richleau, and she has more talent than most of the Hammer actresses of the period. The Duc's friend Rex falls for her, but is hard pressed to keep up with the spells of Mocata, who will stop at nothing to reclaim his servant.
What really helps the film is a great sense of period - somewhere midway between the two world wars. The props (especially the vehicles) and costumes are quite right, and the landscapes are far more diverse than the usual Bray Studios trappings. There's no doubt that the team sought to make this one special and shoot on some real locations - and it's perhaps here rather than in the effects that the budget was concentrated. All in all, despite some shortcomings, a very enjoyable Hammer film, a solid Richard Matheson script from a superior Dennis Wheatley novel makes for exciting viewing, far superior to the previous Satanic Hammer film "The Witches" (aka "The Devil's Bride") and equal to the later adaptation of Wheatley's own "To the Devil A Daughter" - the last Hammer film which may have its less than sterling reputation for that measure alone.
"The Devil Rides Out" is a downright terrific adventure, with non-stop excitement and efficient scary moments. Only, this is not simply reached through cheap images of terror, but through a constantly ominous atmosphere and an intelligent and carefully constructed screenplay. Another immediately follows one powerful sequence and it's nearly impossible to determine the absolute highlight of the film. Lee's and Greene's first encounter with a diabolical creature in the mansion's attic, the car chase through the countryside, the baptism-ritual in the woods, the séance with Richleau's niece All these are just examples of sheer horror brilliance that feature in this one film! And there are several more, mind you. If the wholesome isn't impressive enough, the ending contains a paradox-twist, truly stunning and very much ahead of its time. Perhaps the biggest trump of this still underrated gem of classic horror is that it feels disturbingly realistic and believable. The premise of a devil-worshiping cult often automatically provokes unintended laughs and cheesy situations but in this case you practically sense the devil breathing down your neck! Satan Himself makes an appearance (referred to as The Goat of Mendez) and it's the most convincing portrayal of the Master of all Evil I've ever seen. The professionalism of both cast and crew nearly bursts through the screen. Terence Fisher especially gained fame by his directorial achievements in the Dracula and Frankenstein cycles, but this surely is the most flawless film in his admirable career. From the trivia-pages of this marvelous website, I picked up that this is also Christopher Lee's favorite Hammer film (of ALL the movies he starred in, he considers "The Wicker Man" to be the best) and you can't but second his great taste. Lee's sympathy for this screenplay obviously reflects itself in his performance as he lifts up the film to an even higher quality level. Christopher plays the good guy, for a change, but the role definitely suits his persona and no other actor on this planet could have played it better. You get it by now, "The Devil Rides Out" is one of the greatest horror film ever made and a cinematic experience true fans can't afford to miss.
That being said, some of the imagery in the film is fantastic. We've got the angel of death, a giant tarantula, several scenes of devil worship and - wait for it - Satan himself makes an appearance! And, get this, he doesn't look ridiculous either! The plot follows Christopher Lee as he discovers that one of his best friends has turned to devil worship, don't you just hate it when that happens? Anyway, Lee doesn't take this sort of thing lying down and decides to dedicate all his free time to saving his friend's soul. Because that's what friends are for, right? The film builds it's atmosphere by way of several sacrifices and other assorted devil worship and a great score. The great score doesn't exactly hinder the film's atmosphere either, and helps to build up a malicious sense of dread throughout. Despite it being more serious than usual, the film is still a lot of fun and it's hard to really call a film that sees Christopher Lee running around trying to stop a devil worshipping cult 'serious' anyway...
Christopher Lee turns in one of his best performances as Duc de Richelieu, a religious man who stands firmly against witchcraft. His friend Simon has been chosen for baptism into a Satanic cult in the English countryside and Richelieu, along with his friends Rex and Roger, intend to stop the dastardly deed from occurring. To avoid the wrath of the Mercata, the leader of the cult (played by ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW's Charles Gray), Richelieu draws an ancient protective circle and places all the involved parties inside to spend one terrifying night trying to protect themselves against demons and spirits of all kinds.
Not your average Hammer production, DEVIL RIDES OUT was released in the U.S. as THE DEVIL'S BRIDE since RIDES OUT was deemed a title for a Western. RIDES OUT makes much more sense during a certain sequence featuring the Angel of Death riding a jetblack horse. The visuals in this film are astounding: a giant spider, a goat-headed devil, a black man with yellow piercing eyes, and the infamous goat's blood scene. All these and more are in store for you when you see THE DEVIL RIDES OUT. I recommend this not only to initiates of the Hammer cult (no pun intended), but also to those who want to see one film that will make them fans. This or HORROR OF DRACULA should do the trick.
Because it is also a Hammer Film Production, there is much here for the not-so-aesthetically inclined. Fast cars, a black mass, giant spiders: A Wimsey novel for the horror fan. The Dennis Wheatley novel that inspired it is a hymn to social snobbery and political reaction, but the movie throws the offal of the novel away; from the bare superstructure of plot comes an infernal pageant of crises.
Christopher Lee is very strong here, as he is in The Wicker Man; we see the often-typecast man exploring a character of wit and determination. Lee's Dracula is usually all guile and glowering insolence; here Lee's Duc DE Richleau is the lordly savior the British Empire always dreamed it could produce.
The Devil Rides Out doesn't have any points to make. This makes its point about the false consciousness bred by all religion all the more powerful.
If this flick were in anyone else's hands, it might turn out as a silly, campy horror film. But, in the capable hands of Terence Fisher with Lee leading the way FINALLY having an opportunity to be a heroic figure, this flick is played seriously with optimum effect. Charles Gray was well cast as the chief villain for he has a foreboding, yet sophisticated, presence that works well. At hindsight he might even look like a gentleman..it's when he's able to practice his devil worship that we see his pure evil.
Squeezing every ounce of tension at their disposal, our heroes will have to remain in a "circle of safety" as they are tempted to move out via fake manipulation showing them images that are not really there playing on the inner fear of each individual. Adding the final scary piece is when Mocata kidnaps the Eatons' little girl for a sacrifice to their Lord.
This is considered to be one of the very best horror movies Hammer produced . I know what you're thinking something along the lines of " That's not saying much Theo " but deserves to be rated on its own merits rather than winning by default against films where impossibly beautiful maidens get their cleavage out and pop round to Dracula's Castle . Having acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson doing the script helps greatly as does having Terence Fisher as director . Fisher was never in danger of winning an Oscar but is almost certainly the best director of the Hammer horrors
The story itself is utter nonsense featuring a Satanic cult wanting to get the souls of a young man and woman and featuring a cameo of some bloke with the head of a goat but everything is done in such a serious dead pan manner that you can't help being caught up in it . As soon as someone mentions something vaguely important to the plot a crescendo of music blasts over the soundtrack and nothing unimportant happens , not for a second . As soon as anyone has the temerity to say " You can't believe that " a reply of " I've never been more serious in all my life " then the band plays up again . In fact no one ever has been as serious as Richleau and one wonders if Rex isn't to blame . After all if he hadn't wandered in to the film Richleau wouldn't have had anyone to talk to and the band wouldn't have got paid
I often thought the only time Christopher Lee was impressive was when he was in LORD OF THE RINGS but he does carry the film to a large extent as the charismatic good guy and if we had Peter Cushing as Richleau we'd have a different and rather inferior film . I'm not implying that THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is some forgotten masterpiece ready for reevaluation but as pulp horror produced as mass entertainment it is very enjoyable and engaging
Nicholas and Rex unexpectedly visit Simon that is receiving twelve mysterious friends. Sooner Nicholas, who is proficient in black magic, learns that the guests are member of a satanic cult and Simon and his friend Tanith Carlisle (Niké Arrighi) will be baptized by the powerful leader Mocata (Chrales Gray) to serve the devil. The two friends abduct Simon and Tanith expecting to save their souls but Mocata summons the Angel of Death and the Goat of Mendes to help him in a battle between the good and the forces of evil.
"The Devil Rides Out" is a flawed but highly entertaining production by Hammer directed by Terence Fisher, one of the best British directors of horror genre, with a good story of satanic cult. Christopher Lee this time is "the good guy", fighting to save his protégée from the powerful forces of the darkness. Why the little Peggy and the butler had not been included in the circle of protection is probably the greatest flaws of this film. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "As Bodas de Satã" ("The Anniversary of Satã")
The fast-moving storyline is awash with action, whether it be car chases, physical fights or more importantly, magic battles. The central characters are placed in constant danger right from the beginning and there is no letting up until the very end. Luckily the suspense and tension is sustained throughout meaning that you'll never find yourself looking at the clock. And indeed who would want to, when the film offers such delights as Christopher Lee protecting his companions against the Angel of Death (a winged skeleton on a horse) or fighting against a gigantic tarantula. The music is splendidly bombastic in the best Hammer tradition, helping to expand every dramatic moment into epic proportions. The special effects are sometimes a little wobbly but largely effective, relying primarily on simplicity for their charm (clouds of eerie smoke, fog rolling in, some straightforward back projection). One of the best moments in the film for me is the arrival of the grinning embodiment of evil that sends a shudder down my spine every time – the later appearance of the Devil is a disappointment in comparison.
Christopher Lee is on top form and given a chance to shine in one of his rare roles as a good guy. Unfortunately the rest of the cast can't reach him but at least they make valiant attempts – there's Leon Greene (A CHALLENGE FOR ROBIN HOOD) as the strong but rather stupid friend Rex – forever getting himself into trouble – and a young, sweaty Patrick Mower as Simon, the boy in danger. Nikki Arrighi makes for an almost ethereal damsel in distress whilst Paul Eddington is excellent as a straight man unable to believe in what he sees. But acting awards go to Charles Gray (THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW), shining as the charismatic figure of evil, who is able to charm and hypnotise anybody with a mere stare. One of the best Hammer villains of all time. I don't really have much else to say about this great film, other than that if you like old-fashioned horrors, Hammer and otherwise, then it truly is unmissable entertainment and a creepy, evil classic of the genre.
The movie differs quite a bit from Hammer's most famous output. There are no Gothic castles or spooky cobwebs, no classic monsters or great creature effects. Instead, the story takes place at the end of the 1920s and involves a black magic cult and plenty of somewhat informed mystic mumbo jumbo (the sort where the writer throws in a bunch of occult terms and Latin phrases and assumes the viewer doesn't know any better anyways). It is directed by Terence Fisher, who created most of Hammer's most famous works and is, sadly, never given the credit he is due as one of the foremost horror directors of all time.
The story revolves around a reunion of 3 friends, one of whom is Christopher Lee in a rare "good guy" role, as Duc. However, the youngest of their trio, Simon, is missing, so our two heroes, Duc and Rex, go in search of the young man. They interrupt a coven of occultists planning something evil for the evening and kidnap Simon to save him from the group, incurring the wrath of Charles Gray as Mocata, the cult leader and maybe the best role in the film. Naturally, Mocata is not going away without a fight and we the rest of the film unfolds as a battle between Duc and Mocata for the souls of Simon and a young lady, Tanith whom they try to save from the cult.
There are some really good scenes in the movie, which are memorable indeed. The initial rescue of Tanith sees Duc and Rex disrupt a satanic baptism complete with reveling worshippers and one of the coolest devil's ever put on screen (surely inspired by the Church of Satan's images of Baphomet). I found myself reminded a great deal of the Tom Hanks comedy DRAGNET in this scene. After refusing to give up Simon and Tanith to Mocata, he summons the forces of evil against our heroes, leading to a tense scene as they hide inside a Circle of Protection while being assaulted by a giant spider and the Angel of Death. The finale of the film is also a good scene where the forces of good finally show up to assist our group of heroes against Mocata.
There is a lot that's really dry here, too. Though Lee and Gray are both excellent, most of the other actors are just role players stumbling their way through the lines. We get one of those silly love angles where two characters fall madly in love after knowing each other for all of about 12 hours, but it becomes an important device for the finale. I could have done with some more shadows and torchlight and something closer to an ominous setting. Instead most of the occult scenes involve a lot of hypnotism, hand wiggling and kitchen sink occult gibberish.
All in all, I found it worth the watch if only to see a stellar performance by Christopher Lee and a movie that deviated quite a bit from the norm for Hammer Studios.
For many aficionados of the Hammer horror film, the "Devil Rides Out" was at the time of release, and remains to this day, the most impressive title they ever produced. Based on Dennis Wheatley's novel of the same name the story revolves around a young man, played by Patrick Mower, who gets involved in black magic and the efforts of his friends to free him from his terrible mistake before it is too late. There are several set pieces in which the evil coven are confronted and a central passage where the key players have to spend the night in the protection of a magic circle whilst being assailed by such nasties as giant spiders and even the Angel of Death himself. Only the saintly Christopher Lee, for once the hero, can save them by using the deadly Satsuma ritual. (Actually its called something else but it sounds like Satsuma and that's how I've always remembered it.)
Whether you think the story is tosh or not you can hardly help but be impressed by the production values. The costumes, the sets, the attention to detail, the film stock are all perfection. Even my wife would have to admire these things except she usually hides behind the sofa during horror films.
The most disappointing aspects of the film are its special effects which, by today's standards, are pretty poor and I would not have rated them better than competent at the time of the film's original release. But effects aside I still rate this as a rattling good yarn, an effective horror film in the traditional sense (perhaps we should start calling them pre-ironic horror films) and a top notch display of eccentric British actors doing what they do best.
For those interested in such things the evil Mocata in the film was modeled on the Great Beast himself, Aleister Crowley. Dennis Wheatley lifted most of the material on rituals from a copy of Crowley's "Magick in Theory and Practice" which Crowley had sent to him. Despite what Christopher Lee has to say about Wheatley's genuine deep knowledge of the occult it is the case that everything Wheatley used was second-hand knowledge and there is no evidence that he ever had any first-hand experience of the occult. Wheatley's non-fiction book "The Devil and All His Works" is entirely a confection based upon a superficial reading of popular writers on the subject.
Unlike most Hammer films, "The Devil Rides Out" does not take place in Gothic castles in the 19th century, but in the English countryside of the 1930s. Unlike in most of his roles, Christopher Lee plays the hero here, and he truly shines in the role. Lee plays Duc de Richleau, a man familiar with black magic, who along with his friend Rex van Ryn (Leon Greene) tries to rescue their younger friend Simon (Patrick Mower) from a cult of devil worshipers lead by the sinister Mocata (Charles Gray). While the film puts less emphasis on typical Gothic elements (such as foggy grounds, eerie Gothic buildings, etc.) than most Hammer productions, it is nonetheless one of the most atmospheric films ever to be released by this great Production Company. "The Devil Rides Out" delivers an intensely creepy mood from the very beginning, and the beautiful countryside settings only improve on this impression. The acting is one of the greatest aspects of the film. Christopher Lee, in my humble opinion one of the greatest actors ever, delivers a truly brilliant performance as the hero here. It has to be said that he always does, but the role he plays here truly ranks among his most memorable ones, and seems as if it had been written specifically for Lee. Charles Gray, who is best known for playing James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in "Diamonds are forever", is also great and truly sinister in the role of the diabolical Mocata. The film is impressively shot in fantastic locations, with formidable effects. The creepiest moments in the film feature appearances of ghoulish creatures, such as a giant tarantula, the 'angel of death' and even the the lord of the flies himself. These scenes truly are remarkably creepy. Furthermore, "The Devil Rides Out" is accompanied by a brilliant score, and features one of the most impressive opening sequences of all Hammer films. Many of my fellow Hammer fans name this as the absolute greatest the legendary Studios have ever brought forth. Although I wouldn't personally name it as my all-time favorite Hammer film (that title goes to "Vampire Circus" in my book), "The Devil Rides Out" certainly does rank among their greatest films. The presence of the devil has rarely been delivered this memorably. A great Hammer film and must-see to all Horror fans!
As the man of authority, Christopher Lee absolutely commands the screen. It's an down right shame that he hasn't played this type of role more often.
Charles Gray was excellently silky and sinister, playing an absolute snake of a man. The scene where he shows up to warn the protagonists and wreak a little havoc at the same time is just great.
Despite some dated special effects, watching Gray's late night supernatural attack is still more harrowing than most of the new horror output at the cineplex or the Blockbuster shelves.
Something I find interesting is that the late Dennis Wheatley and Christopher Lee looked upon this story as a righteous warning against the dangers of meddling with dark forces. One thing that you won't find these days in movies are the words Jesus Christ spoken approvingly or a picture where God himself actually intervenes on behalf of the heroes!
Lee here is magnificent and commanding in the role of Duc de Richleau, in which a routine visit to see his young friend Simon Aron turns into a battle for his soul. Richleau was not initially interested in saving Tanith Carlyle, but his friend Rex is smitten with her, so along she comes. I mean honestly. Rex has looks, intelligence, charm, and money, and he falls deeply in love with a woman marked for Satanic possession after conversation that amounts to a simple "hello"? Richleau enlists the help of his niece and nephew-in-law in protecting his double minded duo of demonic disciples when the real assault by demonic forces summed up by Mocata comes. The horror works well because it keeps the visible effects simple so that they do not look hokey today, and it keeps the suspense high so you can use your imagination as to what you are not seeing.
The only thing is, I couldn't figure out how Richleau remembered all of those chants and all of those rules. I did not get the impression this was his life work, yet he has a chant and a charm for every situation. Recommended if you are seeking some of the best in Hammer horror and you get to see Christopher Lee as hero rather than villain for a change.