Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Plus longue nuit du diable, La (1971)

...aka: Castle of Death
...aka: Devil's Longest Night, The
...aka: Devil's Nightmare, The
...aka: Devil Walks at Midnight, The
...aka: Nightmare of Terror
...aka: Succubus

Directed by:
Jean Brismée

During a memorably nasty sepia tone tinted opening, a Nazi stabs his newborn baby girl after his wife dies during childbirth. Many years later, seven people (a young priest, an obese tour guide, a promiscuous bisexual woman, a lethargic innocent blonde, a married man with eyes for other women, his bitter wife and an old crank) show up at the castle home of alchemist Baron von Rhoneberg (Jean Servais). They’re invited inside, creeped out by the weird butler Hans (who hilariously plays a sinister tune on the organ during dinner) and hear all kinds of ghastly things about the legendary Rhoneberg family curse. After a tour of the home, lots and lots of talk and a pretty long soft-focus lesbian seduction scene to provide some gratuitous nudity, the ‘curse’ finally takes shape as a sexy, flame-haired succubus (Erika Blanc) who starts seducing them and then using her supernatural powers to kill them all off (each victim representing one of the seven deadly sins). There is death by poisoned wine, spiked sarcophagus, guillotine, snakes, drowning in gold powder and more, plus atmospheric cinematography and a fantastic music score to keep things humming along through the less interesting stuff. There’s also an effective surprise ending featuring a supremely creepy (but underused) Daniel Emilfork as a skeleton-like version of Satan.

However, what really puts this film a notch or two above your standard Euro-trash effort is actress Erika Blanc herself, who delivers an incredibly sensuous and sinister performance as the femme fatale. Her professionalism and mastery of facial expressions (plus clever use of facial controtionism to give her a more horrific look when she transforms) as she slinks around in an incredibly kinky wardrobe selection will stay in the mind long after the rest of the film is forgotten. The cast also includes Ivana Novak (who appeared in SWEET SPIRITS that same year, along with Blanc) and Shirley Corrigan (CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT), both of whom have nude scenes here, and Lucien Raimbourg.
The Redemption Video release has a completely pointless intro featuring British Scream Queen Eileen Daly and a couple of blood-soaked topless blondes who fight over a human heart in front of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST stills (!?) that you're best off fast-forwarding past. This is also one of the rare movies whose public domain status hasn't harmed it. Even the cheap multi-packs this is usually contained on (released by Mill Creek, et al) use an excellent quality print of the film.


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