Review: THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968)

The magic is black and Baphomet is grinning in THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, a 1968 horror movie from the mighty Hammer Film Productions. Terence Fisher is the director and Richard Matheson is the screenwriter for this outing, so the pieces are in place for a thrilling bit of wicked business. Based on Dennis Wheatley’s novel of the same name, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT pits good against evil in no uncertain terms. Satanism is on the menu and the poor goat is just the appetizer.

In England circa 1929, the Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) is looking into the activities of Simon (Patrick Mower) on behalf of a friend. It turns out that Simon is hanging out with some pretty bad people, namely a group of Satanists led by Mocata (Charles Gray). Simon is set to be an initiate along with Tanith (Niké Arrighi), but the Duc ain’t having it. Together with his pal Rex (Leon Greene), he aims to stop Mocata and his immoral doings before the devil takes his due.

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THE DEVIL RIDES OUT doesn’t beat around the bush: the Duc is going to take on the devil himself. And it lays its intentions further bare when the fiend himself shows up to sit on a rock at a wild-ass bacchanal. All hell is literally breaking loose and the Duc is trying his best to sew it all up. He contends with Rex’s stuffy disbelief and the brain-snatching ways of Mocata, who has a psychic connection with his pledges and gets Tanith to do his malevolent bidding.

In Fisher’s hands, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is never grave. It is oiled with plenty of humour and light, especially as Rex’s incredulity is lifted and his affection for Tanith is apparent. And late scenes at the manor of the Eaton family make for top entertainment, especially as the good guys form a circle and fend off everything from a giant spider to the angel of death on horseback. There’s some neat material involving illusions and the ways evil presents its trickery. Things are a bit broad from a philosophical standpoint, but the rewards are vast and Lee’s stellar hero kicks the devil right square in the teeth.

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