31 Days of Halloween — Day 9: The Devil Rides Out (1968) — by Dr. Shock

The Devil Rides Out Artwork

Editor’s Note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.

Aside from Wes Craven, horror lost another icon in 2015 when, on June 7, Christopher Lee passed away at the ripe old age of 93. Though he’s appeared in well over 250 different film and television projects, Sir Christopher (in 2001, Queen Elizabeth II, in recognition of his contributions to drama, made Lee a Commander of the Order of the British Empire) will forever be remembered by horror fans as Dracula (Horror of Dracula), Frankenstein’s Monster (The Curse of Frankenstein), and The Mummy, all of whom were characters in movies produced by England’s Hammer Studios.

Yet, despite playing some of the genre’s most recognizable monsters, it’s Lee’s performance in 1968’s The Devil Rides Out that, for me, stands above the rest.

The Duc de Richleau (Lee) and his friend Rex van Ryan (Leon Greene) visit their estranged protégé Simon Aron (Patrick Mower), and, to their horror, discover that the young man has fallen in with a group of Satanists. In an effort to prevent him from surrendering his soul to its leader, Mocata (Charles Grey), Richleau and Rex kidnap Simon. But Mocata’s hold over him is strong, and he lures the wayward Simon back into the fold.

Fortunately for Richleau and Rex, it’s not too late to save their friend; Simon and a pretty young woman named Tanith (Nike Arrighti) are about to be indoctrinated into the group, and will vow their allegiance to Satan at an upcoming Black Mass. With the help of his niece Marie Eaton (Sarah Lawson) and Marie’s husband Richard (Paul Eddington), Richleau makes one last ditch effort to rescue both Simon and Tanith, but will the all-powerful Mocata win out in the end?

The entire cast of The Devil Rides Out does a fine job, especially Charles Gray as the evil high priest who will stop at nothing to ensure that Simon and Tanith join his satanic coven. Yet it’s Christopher Lee who walks off with the movie (a remarkable feat when you consider it’s also one of the few times the actor was cast as the heroic lead).

In nearly every scene, Lee’s Richleau is the smartest man in the room, and whenever he’s not onscreen, things don’t go well for the other characters (While Richleau is away doing research, Gray pays a visit to the Eaton’s house, where he gains control of Marie’s mind and discovers Tanith and Simon are hiding upstairs). Lee’s no-nonsense approach to the role, combined with his character’s diligence, makes the Duc de Richleau a force to be reckoned with throughout the film.

Its lead actor aside, The Devil Rides Out also features a solid story (the script, based on a book by Dennis Wheatley, was written by Richard Matheson), as well as some noteworthy scenes that are sure to get your pulse pounding, the most dramatic of which occurs toward the end of the film, when Richleau, Simon, and the Eatons face off against a variety of evil creatures conjured up by Mocata (including the Angel of Death).

Between the years 1957 and 1976, Hammer Studios turned out some exceptional horror movies, many of which co-starred Christopher Lee. But ask me what my top 5 favorites are, and I guarantee The Devil Rides Out will be toward the top of that list.

—Dr. Shock

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8 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 9: The Devil Rides Out (1968) — by Dr. Shock

  1. (Spoiler free for Sleepaway Camp 2; contains spoilers for Sleepaway Camp 1)

    Day 9 – Sleepaway Camp 2 (1988)

    Despite being the original sequel to Sleepaway Camp, you wouldn’t really know it from watching Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers. Sure, it’s another camp based slasher with Angela being the killer, but that’s about where the similarities end. Everything that made the original Sleepaway Camp unique is absent here. There isn’t any homosexual undertone, eccentric characters, or a big surprise ending. No, Unhappy Campers is your typical 80’s slasher that never comes close to touching the cult classic level status of it’s predecessor.

    At the same time, that’s not necessary a bad thing. I won’t try to claim this is a good film. The acting is likely worse than the original, there isn’t any character development, the script is overly simple, there’s not much blood to be seen in the kills, ect. Yet, the one thing this movie has more of than even the original is fun. I loved watching this and the fun remained from the start until the finish. For me, it’s a pure guilty pleasure type of a flick.

    The biggest source of fun comes from Angela herself. She’s hilarious in her war on indecency. She’s overly cheerful and her attitude doesn’t fit the age group that she’s looking over. I don’t know how old the campers are supposed to be, but they look as if they’re either in their twenties or are about to in any day. Yet, she’s having them do stupid little songs with hand motions and chastises them for any sort of wrong behavior that is not becoming for a young lady. The best scene in the entire movie occurs when one camper has stumbled onto the fact that the campers that were reportedly sent home haven’t been seen. The camper has no idea that they’re revealing all this to the killer. While the camper is busy talking, Angela is roaming around the cabin, looking for a proper tool to kill the camper before they reveal this revelation to anyone else. It’s a great scene that reminds me of American Psycho with the victim unaware of what’s right around the corner while the killer is preparing for the kill.

    If there is a similarity between the first two Sleepaway Camps, it’s that Angela thrives on being creative on her kills. Here, her kills are even more creative. Angela may be a murderer, but she won’t lower herself to using the same tool twice. Some of the weapons used in the film include a hatchet, pocket knife, battery acid to the face, power drill, guitar string used as a garrote, a log or tree branch, a couple of kills inspired by some other horror icons, and one particularly nasty way of being killed that I won’t spoil. If you’re someone who loves seeing a variety of different kills, Sleepaway Camp 2 has that for you. The only drawback to these great kills is that there’s not much blood involved.

    If I would have one legitimate criticism of the movie, it’s that they wrapped up the body count a little too early. As a result, the movie still have fifteen to twenty minutes left and it felt a bit directionless. Once the quick kills are over, there’s not much more to the script. So I would have either preferred seeing the movie cut down in time some or spread out the kills more. It’s a real case of the first two thirds being far superior to the final third.

    Overall, Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers doesn’t feel like a sequel at all. There isn’t any homosexual undertone, there’s tons of female nudity in this one, Angela comes across as a completely different character, and this felt like more of a typical 80’s slasher than the eccentric cult classic that was the original Sleepaway Camp. Unhappy Campers is not a good movie, but it’s a gigantic guilty pleasure and one I feel has a greater replay value than the original Sleepaway Camp. If you’re going to watch this, turn your brain off and just try to enjoy it’s wacky fun.

    Like the original, I’d give it a 6.5, but for very different reasons.

  2. 31 Days of Halloween day 9
    22. Without Warning (**) – Oscar winners Landau and Palance in a terrible Predator prototype.
    23. Summer of Blood (*) – Horrible. Schlubby vampire. It’s not funny or worth it.
    24. Horsehead (****) – 90% of the story happens in well done dream sequences.

        • The subtitles in the first minute would have given it away. It’s about German kids during WW2 who are sent to live with their abusive grandma and they try to conquer pain and emotions because they feel society will trample them otherwise. Kind of disturbing but very good.

    • Wow, Joe. I haven’t seen most of the movies you’re watching this October. I could probably make a list for the rest of the year these.

  3. Day 9: Halloweentown
    This is a fun Halloween movie that my family enjoyed but not me. I like the idea of a Halloweentown but the town has nothing over A Nightmare Before Christmas. The people of Halloweentown don’t look very interesting and their masks are kinda lame. The town square just doesn’t look well decorated for a town that celebrated Halloween all year-round. Hopefully the sequels have a bigger budget and bring a better halloween look to them.

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