Sunday, October 30, 2011
31 Days of Halloween - Day 30 - Movie 1
The Devil Rides Out (1968) was adapted by Richard Matheson from the novel by Dennis Wheatley. Christopher Lee secured the rights to all of Wheatley's supernatural novels featuring the Duc de Richleau, hoping to create a franchise for himself as the heroic occult investigator. Alas, The Devil Rides Out is the only movie to have come from these plans and is such a fantastic movie that one only wishes that the others had been made.
The Duc de Richleau (Lee) and Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) are distressed to discover that their friend Simon (Patrick Mower) has gotten himself involved with a bunch of practitioners of black magic. They make every effort to save Simon, but discover that the group's powerful leader, Mocata (Charles Gray) is reluctant to let Simon go. The Duc and Rex find themselves in opposition to some serious powers of darkness.
This is my favorite Christopher Lee movie by far. He gives a magnificent, commanding performance in the role of the movie's hero, and I only wish his dream of following this up with more movies starring him as the Duc de Richleau. This is also my second favorite Hammer film (Brides of Dracula being number one) and it is truly a powerful film. The movie starts with a bang and never lets up through the climax. Many have said that this movie is too ambitious for its budgetary restrictions, and while the representations of the dark forces may have been more terrifying with a larger budget to invigorate them, I found their mundane natures to be quite effective, lending them an air of credibility. The excellent script by Matheson, direction by Terrance Fisher, cinematography by Alan Grant, score by James Bernard and the excellent cast and great sets and locations all make this movie feel much grander than the budget allows.