30 For 31: “THE DEVIL RIDES OUT” (1968)Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Samuel Zimmerman
The Season of the Witch is upon us, ye ole FANGORIA Readers! To many, Halloween means candy, costumes and creepshows of all sorts. But to the staff at FANGORIA, Halloween can mean something more entirely. Therefore, we present 30 FOR 31, in which FANGORIA recounts the cinema that most strongly represents what Halloween means to us.
As my week of 30 for 31 draws to a close, I think of the many spirits of Halloween. Somber reflection, touching a void, mischief, superstition and adventure. What is the latter best represented by? It’s arguable the horror-adventure belongs to Dennis Wheatley, the master of satanic spy pulp, whose work remains sadly under-adapted for the big screen. The most successful translation of which is arguably the best Hammer movie there is, Terence Fisher’s THE DEVIL RIDES OUT.
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (aka THE DEVIL’S BRIDE) teams one of Hammer’s most prolific and greatest filmmakers (Fisher) with one of its most prolific and greatest stars (Christopher Lee) and another literary master of the fantastic, Richard Matheson. The result is a romp of rites, a proper thrill which manages to expertly balance fright, adventure, romance and wit.
In THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, Lee essays one of Wheatley’s greatest characters, the Duke de Richleau (Col. Verney being the other). Together with fellow modern musketeer Rex Van Ryn, Richleau attempts to save their friend Simon Aran and the young, beautiful Tanith from initiation into a Satanic cult by traversing a period-set (1929) English countryside and reciting ancient text.
Fisher’s work on THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is that of crafting a funhouse. It’s a film in which a spectrum of De Luxe mystic madness splashes across the screen, from the genuinely eerie (two Satanic forms, one a glowing-eyed devil and the other Baphomet himself), to ghoulish fun (a giant spider, the Angel of Death), to old fashioned action (a rear projection car chase), to hilarious relaxation in the face of supernatural threat (see below). It almost perfectly captures the utter delight of Halloween, so much so that it’s a bit of a tragedy a Region 1 Blu-ray doesn’t exist.