Mark of the Devil Part II (1973)
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The notoriety of the film is partly based on it's current unavailability. The only way to see it these days is to find one of the gray market unlicensed home video transfers floating around sourced from overseas prints with gibberish subtitles burnt into the picture. Usually I would say that's a shame but in the case of MARK OF THE DEVIL PART 2 it's pretty much what the movie deserves; this is among the few genuine horror movies which come to mind had to be cut even to qualify for an "X" rating, which is saying a lot. Having it restored to it's original full length is not really a pressing issue for humanity right now, though sadly it would probably be a brisk seller. People love this kind of crap.
For those who aren't in the know, the MARK OF THE DEVIL films were part of a brief flurry of "Witchfinder General" torture show movies inspired by Michael Reeves' controversial period thriller CONQUEROR WORM, a wildly popular artistic statement about man's inhumanity to his fellow man that was exactly the movie the world had coming to it in 1968. The idea was to explore the possibilities of inflicting suffering on the supporting cast by evoking the pre-Reformation era of Puritanical Inquisitional hysteria, with an omnipotent, otherwise untouchable torture artist going from town to town condemning people as witches for kicks. In addition to the original MARK OF THE DEVIL and MARK PART 2, both courtesy of Mr. Adrian Hoven, there's Ken Russell's timeless favorite THE DEVILS, Jess Franco's THE BLOODY JUDGE with Christopher Lee, Bernardo Arias' nauseating THE INQUSITOR, and Jacinto Molina's INQUSICION as an eroticized Spanish twist on the theme. My but they are delightful movies.
I don't even really remember the exact premise behind MARK PART 2, something about a traveling family of nobelpersons who run afoul of a local magistrate using religious frenzy as an excuse to shackle up anybody who displeases him and torture the living *beep* out of the poor sods. Reggie Nalder -- whom "Star Trek" fans may recognize as the blue Andorian ambassador from the original series episode "Journey To Babel" -- is a perfect embodiment of evil as the ghoulish, power crazed maniac who's official torture experts go to work on Erika Blanc and anybody else whom they can justify throwing onto the rack.
Watching the film was a difficult experience, not only because of how unpleasant the proceedings are but due to the nature of the home video version I found myself in possession of, which appears to have been made from a bunch of 3 minute long MPEG clips of the film that were smuggled out of Scandanavia on a pile of 1.4mb floppy discs and joined together by someone on crack using a freeware editing tool. And yet quite frankly that's probably about what the movie deserves, it enhanced the forbidden, sleazy, scumbag nature of the whole affair.
My favorite segment was what I call The Shoes Of Fire Ordeal, which admittedly is one of the most ingenious torture gimmicks ever cooked up. Euro Horror favorite Anton Diffring (in the film's Oliver Reed role) is first beaten senseless, nearly drowned in freezing water, and when he still won't confess to being in league with the devil, Nalder's henchmen fill a pair of over-sized iron clogs with burning coals and shove the guy's bare feet into them. Ouch.
We also get a bit of Nunsploitation fare as the fetching young Sinead O'Connor lookalike baldie nun finds herself being whipped, groped, raped, singed, pierced, and ultimately kindled up on the ole' witch burning stake by assorted lesbians and disgusting fat slob jailers who take great joy in her suffering. I didn't, but then again this movie was not made for me. I am not sure exactly who the target audience was but they are out there somewhere, waiting for this movie to be restored to DVD from the original pre-cut elements. I wish them luck.
Not sure what else to say about the movie. I've heard it described as "hilarious" by others and there were indeed plenty of bad laugh moments during the proceedings, especially if you watch it while consuming alcohol which is probably the only recommended way to approach the material. The whole concept of the movie is ridiculous, with whatever statement they were trying to make about the hypocrisy of organized religion being lost in the shuffle of vomit, bile, mucous, and blood. The movie was also ineptly made on a nonexistent budget, which is par for the course, yet there is a sort of bizarre, clammy, claustrophobic atmosphere achieved based on the unique Northern European locations used for the filming, and the crypto Dutch Quaker costumes are quite funny.
That's about the only positive thing I can say about it, though. I certainly didn't enjoy the movie's over-hyped sadism very much, but having it under my belt means that for the rest of my life I can concentrate on watching things that are perhaps more rewarding. I can also now use this movie as a sort of barometer by which to judge other films -- "It didn't suck as bad as MARK OF THE DEVIL PART 2", or maybe "It actually managed to suck even more than MARK OF THE DEVIL PART 2". Can't wait to use that line.
Erica Blanc stars as a noble woman who stands up in opposition to the fanatics. She becomes wrapped up in the events after her young son makes friends with the quiet young nun who later receives the worst of the witch-hunter's accusations. This is the only aspect of the sequel that treads the same ground as the struggle between Herbet Lom and Udo Kier in the first movie, but it's far less interesting than that was. However Erica Blanc makes a very good heroine, and is one of the few believable characters.
The torture scenes are also less outrageous than in the first film, and much less convincingly done. It's actually kind of boring, although the ending does have a ray of originality that I quite liked (in which a persecuted character's execution is seemingly halted by divine intervention), but apart form that it's pretty dull.
The first film is far more effective, the sequel certainly does not out-do it on any level.
The inquisition this time focuses their evil-eye on a nunnery and in particular one young nun that they feel has the devil in her. A noble-woman is caught up in the mix when her son is accused of killing one of the inquisitors during a failed rescue attempt by her husband (who is also killed) when they see a woman being tortured at the hands of the inquisitors. A lot of finger-pointing and some torturing abound until the relatively lack-luster conclusion...
Worth a look to serious exploit completists, but honestly - there's nothing much going for MARK OF THE DEVIL 2. Udo Kier is nowhere to be found, though the ugly-guy from the first one is still here, which was good to see. The torture scenes are relatively tame and nothing to write home about either. Not the worst thing I've seen, but I can't really give it more than a very average rating due to the lack of any originality or any noteworthy scenes...5/10
This movie is even half an ass short of the half-ass social criticism of the historical abuses of the Church which is usually found in these films. The sole point of interest, besides the wasted presence of Blanc, is that the film was directed by Adrian Hoven, the producer of the first one and a one time actor and producer for Jesus Franco. Whatever Hoven's talents were though, directing wasn't one of them--his work here ranges from unimaginative to downright laughable (such as when he shoots a rape scene from the first-person POV of the slobbering mongoloid). Even worse than the first one, and NOT recommended
However, the hype didn't live long, producers figuring that you can only torture, rack and burn a witch so many times before the audience gets bored and interest soon faded and "Mark of the Devil 2" (the original German title translating loosely as "Witches: Defiled and tortured to death") could not cash into the success of it's predecessors.
It may not only have been the end of a hype that doomed the film but the production itself: Director Adrian Hoven and his crew were veterans of so-called Folk-movies, which meant that they knew how to shoot a handsome scenario but didn't have a clue how to film a dark, gloomy and misanthropic film like "Mark of the Devil" – let alone, how to film grizzling scenes of torture and inquisition. The torture scenes are lame, the subplot drags on and about halfway through the film, the viewer wonders why he's even bothering to follow up the story.
Second problem is the cast: it's enjoyable to see the return of Nalder (whom the US-audience probably know best as vampire Mr. Barloff in Stephen Kings "Salems Lot") and Johannes Buzalski (a veteran of Germany's sleazy-raunchy sex comedies), returning to their roles in "Mark of the Devil" in all but name. However, there is no Herbert Lom, no Udo Kier, Herbert Fux or Olivera Katarina that would supply charm and charisma. Both protagonists and antagonists come across as pale, stiff, indeed, wooden and invoke none of the sympathy or disdain that the original cast invoked.
Perhaps completists need it in their collection but if you really want to know what all the fuss about the "Witchhunter movies" was all about – and it wasn't so much, compared to modern gore-fests like "Saw" or "Hostel" – then stick to the original films mentioned and give "Mark of the Devil 2" a pass.
4 out of 10 points and that is being generous.
The cast with the German Actors Anton Diffring(Balthazar Ross),Lukas Amman(Eminence),Johannes Buzalski(Advocatus),Joachim Hackethal(corpulent torturer),Dietrich Kerky(Father Melchior)and Astrid Killian(young Nun)did very well.
There are also Austrians like Jean-Pierre Zola(Fahter of Countess Salmenau),Ellen Umlauf(Mother Superior),Harry Hardt,Adrian Hoven(Count van Salmenau),Percy Hoven(young Boy)and Reggie Nalder(Natas).
Erica Blanc as Countess van Salmenau did a very good performance. Sure,there was not really much Budget for it.But the sexualized torture scenes work very good out.
The whole Movie was shot in Austria.They used most of the same Locations like the first part.Last Fall i visited Lungau,Mauterndorf in Austria. They shot in real torture Chambers at Castle Moosham!This Castle was a real place for this,where Schörgen Toni examine "witches" in the witch tower.Now this place is hunted!
They also shot at Castle Finstergruen exteriors for the Movie.A few shots where made at Castle Mauterndorf.For example in the scene with the young maid that buys ingredients for an "love-drink" and than took a away for torture.This was shot in the inner Bailey of Castle Mauterndorf.
When you wanna made a bizarre trip to Austria,visit Lungau(Region Salzburg).
Join this Movie when you liked THE WITCHFINDER GENERAL or MARK OF THE DEVIL!
At least one correction: In the first review of this Film,the writer made a mistake about the Cast.Anton Diffring plays the Witch Hunter Balthazar Ross.Not the Priest! Father Melchior is played by German Sexfilm-Actor Dietrich Kerky.