Ugh, real life, why do you have to keep getting in the way of stuff I actually want to do, like talking about horror movies? Ugh, damn it. Anyway, the film for today is a gloriously camp Hammer Horror occult film, The Devil Rides Out (1968) The plot is fairly straightforward. The Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and Rex van Ryn are old friends, who discover their their younger friend Simon has got himself mixed up in a Satanic cult, and they have to save him before he’s initiated and loses his soul. In the process, Rex falls for another cult initiate, Tanith. And there are some truly spectacular parenting fails. But more on that later.
Christopher Lee has said that was his favourite Hammer role. I would have to agree, and not just because I do fancy him quite a bit in this film. He was the one who pushed the studio to make an adaptation of Dennis Wheatley’s novel, and The Devil Rides Out is very much his baby. Lee finally got to play the hero and he didn’t have to lose any of his trademark Christopher Lee-ness (you know what I mean) to do so. Richleau is a total badass, and has a spectacular collection of sports cars and expensive suits. It’s like if Batman was English and decided to wage war against the devil.
I also really enjoy Charles Gray’s performance as Mocata, the head of the Satanic order. While most of the order are, at best, eccentric, he brings an air of calm respectability to the role, which makes it all the more unsettling. He seems like a perfectly affable gentleman, and even when he’s openly threatening people, he does so calmly and politely, which is actually very creepy.
I really like all the little details the film adds concerning occult lore and Satanism while at the same time not taking itself too seriously. I’ve come to associate Hammer films with fun. They can be creepy or gory, but there’s no real nastiness to them, and they’re the films you watch when you want to be entertained. This is no exception.
I think my favourite scene is the portrayal of the Black Mass. Having never attended one myself, I have no idea how accurate it is (probably not very), but it’s a scene that manages to be both trippy and also rather creepy.
Also, the Goat of Mendes shows up.
My other favourite part is when Richleau uses his own knowledge of the occult to protect himself and his friends from Mocata’s magic.
Mocata’s form of infernal warfare involves sending in the most ridiculous giant spider ever, which seems to change size every time they show it:
Don’t worry, the kid is all part of the ~magical hallucination, she’s in no real danger from the giant fake spider. Talking of, though, this is where I’m going to bring up the parenting fail I mentioned earlier. Now horror cinema is full of bad parenting, I know. But seriously, they go to their friends’ house (friends who have a small daughter), knowing that a Satanic cult is after them, and they don’t think to send the kid away somewhere? Oh no, we’ll just have our elderly butler watch over her, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Great plan, guys. Let me know how that works out for you. I know that having children in danger is meant to up the fear factor, but I’m a callous bitch sometimes, and all I can think is YOU ARE TERRIBLE PARENTS AND IT WOULD SERVE YOU RIGHT IF SHE DIED. Okay, I’m going to stop with the completely unnecessary digression now.
Because as if there wasn’t already enough going on in this film, the Angel of Death also makes a cameo!
Sorry if this post is a little… disjointed. Things have been very frustrating lately. Nevertheless I will try to be less crap in the future, promise.