The Devil Rides Out (film)

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The Devil Rides Out
The Devil Rides Out (1968 film poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTerence Fisher
Screenplay byRichard Matheson
Based onThe Devil Rides Out
by Dennis Wheatley
Produced byAnthony Nelson Keys
StarringChristopher Lee
Charles Gray
Niké Arrighi
Leon Greene
Patrick Mower
Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies
Sarah Lawson
Paul Eddington
Rosalyn Landor
CinematographyArthur Grant
Edited bySpencer Reeve
Music byJames Bernard
Production
companies
Distributed byWarner-Pathé (UK)
20th Century Fox (US)
Release dates
  • 20 July 1968 (1968-07-20) (UK)
  • 18 December 1968 (1968-12-18) (US)[1]
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget£285,000[2]
Box office276,459 admissions (France)[3]

The Devil Rides Out, known as The Devil's Bride in the United States, is a 1968 British horror film, based on the 1934 novel of the same name by Dennis Wheatley. It was written by Richard Matheson and directed by Terence Fisher. The film stars Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi and Leon Greene.

It is considered one of Terence Fisher's best films.[4] It is the final film to be produced by Seven Arts Productions after the company was merged with Warner Bros. to become Warner Bros.-Seven Arts on July 15, 1967.

Plot[edit]

Set in London and the south of England in 1929, the story finds erudite Nicholas, Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee), investigating the strange actions of his protegé, the son of a late friend, Simon Aron (Patrick Mower), who has a house replete with strange markings and a pentagram. He quickly deduces that Simon is involved with the occult. De Richleau and his friend Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) manage to rescue Simon and another young initiate, Tanith (Niké Arrighi), from a devil-worshipping cult. During the rescue, they disrupt a May Day ceremony on Salisbury Plain, in which the Devil appears under the guise of the "Goat of Mendes".

They escape to the country home of de Richleau's niece Marie (Sarah Lawson) and her husband Richard Eaton (Paul Eddington). They are followed by the group's leader, Mocata (Charles Gray), who has a psychic connection to the two initiates. After visiting the house while de Richleau is absent to discuss the matter and an unsuccessful attempt to influence the initiates to return, Mocata forces de Richleau and the other occupants to defend themselves through a night of black magic attacks, ending with the conjuring of the Angel of Death. De Richleau repels the angel, but it kills Tanith instead (as, once summoned, it must take a life).

His attacks defeated, Mocata kidnaps the Eatons' young daughter Peggy (Rosalyn Landor). The Duc has Tanith's spirit possess Marie in order to find Mocata, but they only are able to get a single clue, and Rex realizes that the cultists are at a house he visited earlier. Simon tries to rescue Peggy on his own, but he is recaptured by the cult. De Richleau, Richard, and Rex also try to rescue her, but they are defeated by Mocata. Suddenly, a powerful force (or Tanith herself) controls Marie and ends Peggy's trance. She then leads Peggy in the recitation of a spell which visits divine retribution on the cultists and transforms their coven room into a church.

When the Duc and his companions awaken, they discover that the spell has reversed time and changed the future in their favour. Simon and Tanith have survived, and Mocata's spell to conjure the Angel of Death has been reflected back on him. Divine judgment ends his life, and he is subject to eternal damnation for his unholy summoning of the Angel of Death. De Richleau comments that it is God to whom they must be thankful.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

First proposed in 1963, the film eventually went ahead four years later once censorship worries over Satanism had eased. Production began on 7 August 1967, and the film starred Christopher Lee (in a rare heroic role), Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi and Leon Greene. The screenplay was adapted by Richard Matheson from Wheatley's novel. Christopher Lee had often stated that of all his vast back catalogue of films, this was his favourite and the one he would have liked to have seen remade with modern special effects and with his playing a mature Duke de Richleau.[6] In a later interview, Lee also stated that Wheatley was so pleased with the adaptation of his book that he gave the actor a first edition of the novel.

The A-side of British rock band Icarus's debut single "The Devil Rides Out" was inspired by the advance publicity for the film of the same name. Though the song does not appear in the film, the single's release was timed to coincide with the film's premiere and the band was invited to the premiere.[7]

Analysis of themes[edit]

Unlike certain other Hammer films, The Devil Rides Out has little sexual or violent content.[8] The film's tone is more serious than many other Hammer titles.[9]

Paul Leggett, in his study of Terence Fisher's films, describes The Devil Rides Out, despite its occult themes, as a "total conquest of Christianity over the forces of evil". Leggett sees the film's script drawing inspiration from the works of Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis in addition to Wheatley's novel. The film portrays in a serious manner a spiritual reality underlying the physical universe, and the sceptics of the supernatural becoming unwitting allies of evil.[8]

Professor Peter Hutchings stated that the film has noticeable paternalistic themes: the struggle between good and evil is set up with the older male "savant" authority figures (Duke de Richleau and Mocata), while the younger characters are incapable of defending themselves without subjecting to their authorities.[4]

Reception[edit]

Reviews of the film have been widely favourable. It currently has a 93% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[10]

[The film] sustains flavor and atmosphere in beautiful color photography[...]. Under Terence Fisher's direction [...] the first 20 minutes are dandy, as a steely aristocrat, played with suave dignity by Christopher Lee, tries to outwit the evil ones[...]. This civilized counterattack [...] and some realistic dialogue, steady the action until a flaring, flapping climax[...]. Aside from Mr. Lee, the acting [...] is much too broad. Still, [...] "The Devil's Bride" does hold together, and superstitious moviegoers could do a lot worse.[11]

— Howard Thompson, New York Times review

Director Terence Fisher has a ball with this slice of black magic, based on the Dennis Wheatley novel. He has built up a suspenseful pic, with several tough highlights, and gets major effect by playing the subject dead straight and getting similar serious performances from his capable cast. Christopher Lee is for once on the side of the goodies.[12]

— Staff review, Variety

A disappointingly routine version of Dennis Wheatley's black magic thriller. [...] Christopher Lee is as professionally suave as ever as de Richleau and Charles Gray is suitably sinister as the arch-Satanist [...] But the script is very long-winded, and Terence Fisher's direction never takes fire.[13]

Box office[edit]

According to Fox records the film required $1,150,000 in rentals to break even, but by 11 December 1970 it had only made $575,000, making it a loss to the studio.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "This Week's Openings". New York Daily News. New York City, New York. 15 December 1968. p. 209 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Marcus Hearn & Alan Barnes, The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films, Titan Books, 2007 p 121
  3. ^ Box office information for Terence Fisher films in France at Box office Story
  4. ^ a b Hutchings, Peter (2001). Terence Fisher. Manchester University Press. pp. 148–151. ISBN 0719056373.
  5. ^ Mitchell, Charles (2015). The Devil on Screen: Feature Films Worldwide, 1913 through 2000. p. 77. ISBN 978-0786446995.
  6. ^ "Cult Movies: The Devil Rides Out". Cult Movies. 4 October 2001. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
  7. ^ Wells, David (May 2007). In The Marvel World of Icarus [CD booklet]. Wooden Hill. Pages 4–15.
  8. ^ a b Leggett, Paul (2010). Terence Fisher: Horror, Myth and Religion. McFarland. pp. 96–100. ISBN 978-0786481118.
  9. ^ Tyler, Kieron (23 October 2012). "DVD: The Devil Rides Out". theartsdesk. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  10. ^ "The Devil Rides Out (1968)". rottentomatoes.com. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  11. ^ Thompson, Howard. "Movie Review: The Devil Rides Out". nytimes.com. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Review: 'The Devil Rides Out'". variety.com. January 1968. Retrieved 12 June 2014.
  13. ^ "Review: The Devil Ride Out". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 35 (414): 102. July 1968.
  14. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 327. ISBN 9780818404856.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Rigby, Jonathan (2000). English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 978-0786446995.

External links[edit]