Mocata (Charles Gray) is the leader of a Satanic cult that is trying to initiate two new members (Nike Arrighi, Patrick Mower). It is up to Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) to put a stop to it.
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Christopher Lee, Charles Gray, Nike Arrighi, Patrick Mower, Leone Greene, Sarah Lawson, Paul Eddington.
MPAA Rating: G (movie ratings were way different back then)
Runtime: 1hr 35min
Fun Fact: Based on a novel by Dennis Wheatley, it was Christopher Lee that went to Hammer Films and insist that the novel should be made into a film. One of the biggest lore’s in film history was that Christopher Lee was fascinated studying various topics on the occult and had a huge library on the subject.
If I haven’t stated it before or if you are new to this site I love horror films, especially the classics. It was one of the genres that got me interested in films and reviewing. My dad had showed me all the classic Universal Monsters and since that was his bread and butter, I had to find other horrors films on my own other than an occasional Roger Corman and Vincent Price feature. My dad has never really been a fan of Hammer horror. When it came to Hammer films, I believe the first time I stumbled on them was during an AMC Monster Fest when it used to play a variety of films other than just the Halloween franchise. One of the benefits of growing up in the 1990’s.
Christopher Lee is one of my favorites when it comes to horror films. He had the amazing ability to play villains to the tee. His performance as Dracula is nothing short of legendary where towards the end of his career and life, he got tired of talking and hearing about it. While I love a good chunk of his work, The Devil Rides Out is my favorite film of his.
Lee portrays Duc de Richleau, an expert on the occult and the supernatural. He has a close connection to Simon Aron, portrayed by Patrick Mower. Simon Aron is getting in to deep into something he doesn’t understand and what the consequences of those actions might be. Along with Tanith, portrayed by Nike Arrighi, Simon is being recruited by Mocata (Charles Gray) to join his satanic cult. Along with his close associate Rex (Leone Greene) it is up to de Richleau to put a stop to the ceremony. This is the one time that I know of that Lee is portraying the hero instead of the villain. The reason why this is my favorite film of his is that he is playing a different role and showing his range in that role to show that he shouldn’t be typecasted as just a monster character. Lee has stated that this is his favorite Hammer role and its sad that not many people really know of this film really.
While Lee is fantastic in the role the other performers are just as great. Charles Gray delivers a frightening and chilling performance. His presence on screen just sucked me in by his mannerisms and the delivery of his lines. When the camera focuses on just his eyes you get this cold and evil stare that is giving me goosebumps just writing this down. Leone Greene is a great companion to Christopher Lee. While the team up of Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing is legendary, it is refreshing to see Lee work closely with Greene and they have a nice chemistry with each other. Nike Arrighi also delivers a solid performance that was truly convincing that she is in a nightmare scenario that she can’t get out of.
Another backbone to the film is the directing and the script. Director Terence Fisher was a staple to Hammer features and he continues his string of wins with delivering a film that relies on creepy moments that are shown by actions and visuals. The first ceremony scene is shot so well that it left me speechless on how effective the atmosphere was. Later on in the film where it really gets cooking is when Mocata is terrorizing the group led by de Richleau through the night. The way both of the characters are having a battle of both wit and faith is tremendous. The source material is a novel written by Dennis Wheatley that had been adapted by Richard Matheson. Matheson was famous for his work on a few of The Twilight Zone episodes, and I Am Legend among other things. I have never read the Wheatley novel, but I trust that Matheson did its justice in his adaptation. It makes me want to read the novel now and have a fun comparison with the two.
Overall, The Devil Rides out is an underrated horror film and a gem in the Hammer series. Christopher Lee leads the cast in what I consider his best performance. As the good guy he gets to show the audience a different range and that he doesn’t have to be typecasted as a monster character. The rest of the cast is just as great, especially Charles Gray as the lead antagonist. Director Terence Fisher knows how to create a creepy atmosphere and for 1968 I can only imagine what audiences felt after going to the cinema and seeing this. This type of material was pretty popular at this time in film and its kind of sad that The Devil Rides Out is not mentioned that much due to the more popular films that came out at the time. Me writing this review makes me want to watch it again because every time I think or talk about it, I get goosebumps. Goosebumps I tell you! Goosebumps!