Each day in October, three brave souls from our gang of Groovy Goolies (co-editor Paul Childs, Boardgames Master Aaron Nash and Ultimate Movie Geek Nathaniel Jepson) are watching horror films from around the world and across a wide spectrum of the horror genre, so expect slashers, ghosts, cultists, demons, vampires, cannibals, zombies, kaiju, aliens and more!
Paul’s Choice – The Devil Rides Out (1968)
In a last minute change, I switched with Monday’s forthcoming film as my copy of Profondo Rosso didn’t work properly. I’d call it by its English title, Deep Red, but my Blu-Ray would only play in Italian without subtitles on my parents’ player! Anyway, the problem is ironed out (I’m home now where I can trust my kit!) and things are kind of back on track.
So… I was prepared for a dark, violent serial killer drama but instead got a camp, brightly coloured Satan Worshipping “adventure”! Quite the contrast! I haven’t read Dennis Wheatley’s book so I can’t compare with the film, but there’s not a great deal of story going on. Two friends go to a third friend’s house to visit him only to discover that he has been enthralled by a group of devil worshippers. The rest of the film features their attempts to rescue him and one other initiate from the cult’s clutches. Well, I say “rescue” but the film never actually makes it clear if Simon (Patrick Mower, best known these days as Rodney from Emmerdale) has joined the cult of his own free will or is being coerced by its enigmatic leader Mocata (Charles Gray) so the might have kidnapped him!
However, the simple story serves the film well, leaving plenty of room for some crazy on-screen antics which, I’m sure, will have thrilled and terrified a sixties audience. If you’ve ever visited the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, you’ll recognise lots of the imagery here. Mocata is very much a conglomeration of Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley and we even get treated to a visit from Baphomet! It’s certainly a visual feast! Christopher Lee takes on a rare good guy role. His Duc De Richelieu is in fact, played very much in the vein of The Doctor, being the expert who gathers less experienced companions to assist him and be on hand to have technical details explained to them. Apparently, he did serious research into the methods and behaviours of modern-day Satanists to help him prepare for the role!
Author Dennis Wheatley was, of course, a well know friend of Crowley so I don’t doubt the authenticity of the details in the scenes which feature occult behaviour. However, to a modern eye The Devil Rides Out does appear to have thrown every stereotype of Satanism at the screen all in one go. It’s an eye-popping, colourful visual feast which seems quite camp these days. However, there are a few creepy moments which elevate it above a Halloween special of your favourite cartoon, the aforementioned appearance of Baphomet for one. The moment where a demon with hypnotic eyes tries to capture our heroes also stands out.
Aaron’s Choice – The Shallows (2016)
Creature features about killer sharks come out almost weekly and most are absolutely terrible (some in the best way possible). In rare circumstances though a bigger budget higher profile shark attack film surfaces and is actually surprisingly good. The Shallows is a perfect example of this.
The basic premise is an injured girl is stuck on a rock in the sea with a shark circling. As the tide rises and her refuge becomes rapidly smaller she must find a way to escape or be eaten.
Having such a small stage brings in crazy amounts of tension and weirdly claustrophobia even though we are in such a wide open space. The film plays on this by having things in view but out of reach for the main character. You really start feeling for her.
The acting by Blake Lively is great especially when you consider the majority of the film is just her on a rock. I was really impressed that the character felt believable and felt like someone you wanted to see survive. The CGI used for the shark is pretty good for the most part and definitely far better than 99% of the creature features rolled out each year.
The pacing is perfect and everything flows perfectly to a really good ending. It’s a surprisingly gripping and tense flick that keeps its tension up until the very end.
It’s well worth checking out for a slightly different take on the creature feature sub-genre and for a surprisingly awesome film.
Nathaniel’s Choice – Amityville II: The Possession (1982)
Despite being told to “Get Out!” our resident YouTuber ventures back where he fled last year – Amityville (the house on the hill):
And here’s Lovebug Starski’s “classic” hit from 1986 which was inspired by the film series. It’s clearly so good that we couldn’t put it on our Halloween Party Playlist and risk putting the other songs to shame!