Saturday, April 17, 2010

1967 - THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, black magic vs. Christopher Lee

The screenwriter Richard Matheson adapted a book about a battle between white magic and black magic, someone at Hammer films had the great idea to get Christopher Lee, who usually played their bad guys and make him the hero in this one. 

Christopher Lee is a pretty dapper fellow in this film playing the Duc de Richleau who along with his associate Rex van Ryn are a version of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson if Holmes and Watson battled the occult instead of Dr. Moriarity.  They certainly have a tough adversary in the actor Charles Gray who plays the wizard Mocata. Overall, the film has a very good cast.

Along with Richard Matheson, The Devil Rides Out has Hammer's best horror director, Terence Fisher. Terence Fisher was a smart enough director to know that having people recite magic spells at each other could get kind of boring.  He made sure to add plenty of action to keep the film interesting.  For a 1960's film on a low budget, the special effects are pretty decent.

The beginning of the film feels a little rushed and expects the audience to accept almost immediately the presence of black magic in the modern world but the acting, dialog and the staging of the scenes are so good you can embrace the story almost immediately. 

The final black magic assault on Christopher Lee and his friends in their protective circle actually works up quite a bit of tension. 

Another good example of a very good film made by very talented people on a modest budget.

 Probably only the subject of witchcraft would tend to put an audience off.

96 minutes.

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