The Devil Rides Out

Day Twenty One of the 2010 Silver Shamrock Happy Halloween Countdown!

Happy Halloween Countdown Day Twenty One

The Devil Rides Out

I can hear the beginning of a horrible buzzing sound, dear readers, the horrible buzzing of all three of you out there murmuring to yourselves, “Captain Midnight, here we are, all the way to day twenty-one and we’ve not seen one Terence Fisher movie.  We’ve seen two movies with Peter Cushing already and not one with Christopher Lee.  What gives?”  Fret not, Mom and the two people sentenced by the court to read my blog as a part of the literacy program required by your parole agreements, for tonight, The Devil Rides Out! Mwahahahaha!

thunder clap and lightning flash

It’s the 1930’s and the British Empire is still big enough to never have the sun set upon it, Britannia rules the waves and the upper crust of London society is getting into Satanism.  Based on the Dennis Wheatley novel of the same name, The Devil Rides Out explores the horror of a secret world that operates under the surface of the world we know, bargaining with evil in pursuit of power and the twill of others for evil purposes.  It’s a lot of fun watching Charles Gray, as the villainous Mocata, running around the drawing-rooms of upper class English manor houses throwing down the old Jedi mind trick on the weak willed fops that litter the landscape.

Mocata isn’t alone in his adoration of the Dark and Goaty One, he leads coven of toffee-noses all hell bent on midnight cavorting, dancing wildly to the pounding beat of drums,  groping each other.  You know, except for the drinking of goat blood, that sounds like a night out clubbing. All that fun isn’t going to go on unopposed and here we have the imposing Christopher Lee, whose de Richleau, a master of the occult, is going to stop Mocata from filling the quota for the Springtime Satanic Recruiting Drive.  It’s a treat to see Lee play the hero for a change and Charles Gray is one the few actors with enough presence to hold his own as a credible foil.

One of the high points of the movie the arrival at a black mass of the Devil himself, in full goaty goodness (or goaty evilness?) with fur and horns and the whole megillah.  The Satan make-up isn’t Rick Baker’s werewolf from An American Werewolf in London caliber of awesome, but it’s something I’ve always found nightmarish and creepy.  Some of the later effects in the film look dated and weak, and were probably not too impressive even at the time, but we can forgive that. The effects are not a feature of real importance and their weakness in no way undermines the rest of the movie, which visually relies more on art direction and set design, which are up to the usual Hammer quality.  The Devil Rides Out could have easy fallen into a morass of melodrama and cliche and doesn’t.

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