Growing up, I watched quite a bit of horror. In fact, I watched a lot of horror…almost to the point of driving my parents into hysteria. They were convinced for a while that I was on a downward spiral into madness. Of course, that might have been true, but it’s completely beside the point. Although I was fascinated with the genre and devoured every movie I could, there were still those titles that were beyond my reach. This was primarily due to the fact my video store resources were limited; most were just mom-and-pop places that did not order anything too exotic.
MARK OF THE DEVIL is a movie I grew up hearing about but never had the pleasure of watching. Because of its hardcore torture scenes (for that time period), many stores would not carry it. But thankfully, the fine folks at MVD snatched it up and present it now in a HD restoration that is fit for a king. If you have never experienced this film before, you will definitely want to add this to your library soon. It is an iconic horror flick that deserves a spot of recognition everywhere.
If you are not familiar with MARK OF THE DEVIL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Entertainment:
Once proclaimed as “positively the most horrifying film ever made”, Mark of the Devil arrives in a director-approved edition featuring a new restoration of the feature. A bloody and brutal critique of religious corruption, Mark of the Devil sees horror icon Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein, Suspiria) play a witchfinder’s apprentice whose faith in his master (Herbert Lom) becomes severely tested when they settle in an Austrian village. Presided over by the sadistic Albino (a memorably nasty turn from Reggie Nalder), the film presents its morality not so much in shades of grey as shades of black. Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, who would later pen Eskimo Nell, The Black Panther and House of the Long Shadows, this classic shocker has lost none of its power over the years.
Although this movie is quite dated, it is still captivating and entertaining. It pulled me in from the start and never let go. Aside from the fact it’s got some great gore that is still impressive by today’s standards, it’s also a riveting period piece.
MARK OF THE DEVIL is shot well and the HD restoration looks amazing onscreen. There are only two spots in the whole film where the quality of the picture degrades (it gets grainy), and these don’t last but just a minute or so.
The acting in MARK OF THE DEVIL is excellent, with film icon Udo Kier portraying the lead character, Christian. Kier is one of my favorite old school actors, and his performances are always stellar. He is joined by some of the silver screen’s biggest names, including Herbert Lom and the enigmatic but memorable Reggie Nalder.
As I mentioned earlier, the special effects are impressive, particularly the gore that is shown. While people are being tortured, we get to see impalements, rope burns, rack-stretching, and more. The effects team does a phenomenal job in portraying these atrocities, and I’m surprised the film didn’t earn any awards for them.
MARK OF THE DEVIL is obviously a huge win for me. And although the film is over 40 years old, the terror and intensity it doles out are timeless. MVD has done a magnificent job with this rerelease, so be sure and snatch up the Blu-ray next week; it will contain some nice extras, including:
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements
– Optional English and German audio
– Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
– Newly translated English subtitles for the German audio
– Audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell
– Mark of the Times – exclusive feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies
– Hallmark of the Devil – author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas
– Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schoner and Herbert Lom
– Mark of the Devil: Now and Then – a look at the film’s locations and how they appear today
– Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
– Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork