Also known as The Devil’s Bride in the US, which is the title as it appears on the film in the version I have on BluRay.
This 1968 Hammer film, directed by Terence Fisher with screenplay by Richard Matheson, is adapted from a 1934 novel by Dennis Wheatley. Wheatley had researched into ancient religions, and had made the acquaintance of people like Aleister Crowley; much of what goes on in this story is grounded in the actual practices of black magic.
After the opening credits, which are full of occult symbols and demonic iconography, we meet our heroes, the elegant Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee), and the square-jawed and solid Rex van Rys (played by one actor but voiced by another, which is probably why he always seems a little detached even when he’s in the middle of the action).
It’s April of 1929, and the Duc is worried about the son of an old war buddy, Simon Aron. Even though Simon is now of age, de Richleau had promised his father that he’d look out for him, and the Duc intends to keep that promise no matter what. He tells Rex that he hasn’t seen Simon in three months.
Together, they pay a call on Simon at his new house and find that there’s a party going on. The drawing room is filled with an international group of well-dressed and sophisticated looking people with odd names like the Countess d’Urfe, Tanith Carlyle (Niké Arrighi), and Mr. Mocata (the suavely menacing Charles Grey, last seen here in The Legacy). There are 13 of them.
Simon tells his friends that these people are just a gathering of a little astronomical society he’s joined. Rex has no clue what’s going on, but the Duc knows very well and is appalled.
When the two are asked to leave before the meeting begins, the Duc asks to see the observatory at the top of the house. Simon takes them upstairs, but de Richleau seems more interested in the décor of the room than the telescopes–there’s a distinct astrological theme on the walls and the floor.
When he hears a noise coming from the closet, the Duc investigates and finds chickens in a basket. Not a catered dinner. Literally, two chickens in a large wicker basket.
After he sees the chickens, de Richleau grabs Simon by the lapels and tells him that he’d rather see him dead than dabbling in black magic.
Continue reading “The Devil Rides Out”