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Demons of the Mind (1972)

R | | Horror, Thriller | May 1974 (USA)
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A physician discovers that two children are being kept virtually imprisoned in their house by their father. He investigates, and discovers a web of sex, incest and satanic possession.

Director:

Peter Sykes

Writers:

Christopher Wicking (screenplay), Christopher Wicking (from an original story by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Hardy ... Zorn
Shane Briant ... Emil
Gillian Hills ... Elizabeth
Yvonne Mitchell ... Hilda
Paul Jones Paul Jones ... Carl Richter
Patrick Magee ... Falkenberg
Kenneth J. Warren Kenneth J. Warren ... Klaus
Michael Hordern ... Priest
Robert Brown ... Fischinger
Virginia Wetherell Virginia Wetherell ... Inge
Deirdre Costello Deirdre Costello ... Magda
Barry Stanton ... Ernst
Sidonie Bond Sidonie Bond ... Zorn's Wife
Thomas Heathcote Thomas Heathcote ... Coachman
John Atkinson John Atkinson ... 1st Villager
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Storyline

Baron Zorn keeps his teenaged children locked up and drugged, fearing that his insane wife passed along a congenital curse to them before her own suicidal death. Elizabeth escapes for a brief tryst with a local before being recaptured and subjected to a bleeding process to 'draw out the bad blood.' Emil keeps trying to escape, but is thwarted time and again by his aunt Hilda who runs the house like a prison. One reason the siblings have to be kept apart, is their incestuous attraction to each other. Local wenches are being murdered in the woods, and the superstitious peasants think demons are responsible. A wandering Priest dedicates himself to root out the evil, but isn't taken seriously. Arriving at the castle are two more interested parties: Mountebank scientist-huckster Falkenberg stands to make a small fortune if his strange apparatus can cure the children of their inherited evil. Young Carl simply wants to rescue Elizabeth. As more murders mount, Falkenberg enlists village lass ... Written by Leo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They came to torture an agonised mind

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

May 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Blood Evil See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dirk Bogarde was shortlisted for Zorn. See more »

Quotes

Carl: This man may be a genius, but you ought to know... he's a fraud.
Falkenberg: It isn't me that's discredited, it's any new ideas... you might as well kill them!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Although the UK Optimum DVD release restores the 18s of cuts made for the earlier VHS release it is still the cut theatrical version. Missing are the shots of earth being stuffed into Virginia Wetherall's mouth plus other trims to this murder. The murder of Yvonne Mitchell was also shortened by the reduction/removal of a few shots. This cut version is also the one released on the R1 Anchor Bay USA DVD. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inside the Tower (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

An excellent film that won't be called 'Great' because it was made by Hammer.
11 October 1999 | by alice liddellSee all my reviews

There are many films like this - brilliant, thoughtful, stylish, inventive, provocative - that are largely forgotten because they were made by Hammer. Scan through the recent list of the BFI's 100 best British films, and there are very few gems like this. Apparently, its alright to reappraise Ulmer, Lewis, Fuller et al, but we British are above that kind of thing. If you ever see DEMONS, or something like THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, on your TV listings, don't overlook it. It's always the snobs who lose out.

This is an astonishing film, a success in every way, a truly thoughtful horror film. The story concerns an aristocrat who believes his family line is infested with bad blood. He had married a peasant woman to offset this, but has instead infected the peasantry as well. He has locked up his son and daughter, and is bleeding them, to stop the rot. Meanwhile, peasant women are being raped and murdered throughout his estate.

From such a scenario, ripe for exploitation, is weaved a remarkable series of themes and variations. The film's first image is of a horse and carriage rushing through a forest, a white hand groping outside, only to be pulled back. Like THE AVENGERS, the best Hammer films revealed the horrors and insanities lurking behind placid, heritage, British rural life. On the surface is a gorgeous idyll - a beautiful Big House, a forest, grassy rivers. Beneath is incest, madness, hysteria, paganism, murder.

The house, like most horror films, is a metaphor for the mind. It is literally a prison, but also a labyrinth, mirroring the maze created by the disjointed gazes of the occupants. There are some amazing long shots of the house's inside, haunting, vastly empty, tilted - a mind off balance. The family is no longer a site of continuity and order, but discontinuity, inbreeding, misery and chaos.

But the house also shares the literary association as a figure for the state, and the poisonous madness within affects the peasantry too. They partake in pagan rituals, follow mad, gibbering priests, who offer destruction, not redemption, and become a terrifying, cross-burning lynch mob, roaming the country.

Ironically, the film is set at the beginning of the century, and Freud's contemporary attempts to throw light on the darkness of the mind is alluded to, and compared to the descent into medieval dank of the film's characters. BARRY LYNDON shares many of this film's themes, and it's hard to believe Kubrick never saw it - both feature Michael Hordern and Patrick Magee.

The creation of an actual world mirroring a psychological world is superbly realised. The two levels co-exist, intertwine, and some of the film's most extraordinary and beautiful images are visualisations of Freudian symbals and ideas. Like many great horror films, this is a family saga, but a very mature one. Its refusal to demonise adds greatly to the helplessness of the terrors. Its 'closure' is as bleak as ever Hammer dared. A masterpiece.


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