Sunday, June 13, 2010

'The Devil's Nightmare' is a dream of a horror flick

The Devil's Nightmare
(aka "Castle of Death", "The Devil's Longest Night" and "Succubus") (1971)

Starring: Erika Blanc, Jacques Monseau, Shirley Corrigan, and Jean Servais
Director: Jean Brismée
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

A tour group (six travelers and their driver) who takes refuge in an isolated castle during a storm falls victim to the family curse of its owner, Baron Von Rhoneberg (Servais), as a succubus (Blanc) proceeds to kill them one by one after tempting them into performing one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Will a young seminary student be able to save their souls, or will he too be tempted to sin?

"The Devil's Nightmare" is a nifty little film that meshes gothic horror and 1970s pop mysticism with great effect. While the actiing is terrible--with the exception of Erika Blanc (who shows herself to have an astonishing ability to transform her face from sexy to sinister with very little help from make-up and lighting), and Jean Servais (who in his relatively brief time on screen manages to present a character who is both sympathetic and monstrous)--and the dubbed dialogue is nothing spectacular, the swift pacing of the film, the clever deaths of the characters, and the curious, almost fairytale-like atmosphere that hangs over the proceedings easly make up for the film's shortcomings and make it a fun viewing experience.

Erika Blanc's revealing dinner/victim-stalking outfit is also a plus in the film's favor. :D

As with many of these European horror films from the 1960s and 1970s, there are several cuts available, often under the same title. The version watched for this review was released by Redemption and can be found in at least one DVD multipack from Brentwood ("Kiss of Death"). It includes a baby-stabbing scene and an extended bit of lesbian nookie which I don't recall from when I saw the film a few years ago. (And I'm pretty sure I would have remembered both of them.) As such, this is probably the best cut avaialable, and if you're interested in the film, it's the one you should seek out.

There's an odd little "extra" that's included on the Redemption Cinema and Brentwood versions. It's got an Elvira wanna-be and a pair of bare-breasted lesbian cannibals doing some sort of half-assed introduction--and it's so half-assed that a text screen eventually provides information about the film. While I suppose it might fill a need for boobage, I personally found myself shuttling past the nonsense to get to the movie.

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