Saturday, February 11, 2012

Where Ring of Fire Takes On A Whole New Meaning

When it comes to old school Hammer Studios movies, The Devil Rides Out (1968) is often forgotten about for some reason or another, even though it was directed by Terrence Fisher, who was their most famous filmmaker. Since this movie does not deal with vampires, werewolves, mummies or Frankenstein's monster, this film is a singular entry into the Hammer Studios' library. Rather, this is a movie about a cult devoted to the Devil and demons, as they face off against a learned man capable of taking them head on. He does it with atypical grace, style, and cunning-this is not one of those movies where the good guy shoots it out with dozens of henchmen in an abandoned warehouse.

Rarely did Christopher Lee ever play good guys, or at least not be the villain or a villain in a movie, and this is one of them. He embodies the role of a count well equipped to struggle and battle against the forces of darkness, unflappably British to the very end. No matter what get thrown in his way, or the fact that the he's fighting sinister opponents in big flowing robes, he never once waivers from his belief that he can beat back the powers of evil. Charles Gray embodies the key bringer of a new ancient nightmare without being truly campy or coming off as Satanic Bond villain, which only gives the movie added gravitas.

Despite the fact that The Devil Rides Out gets a bit silly at times, overall its a very realistic feeling, well made movie despite the subject matter. Even though Fisher directed better films for Hammer Studios, I rather admire that he also tried to branch out and make different styles of movies for the studio at the peak of British horror and horror movies in general. 84

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