Review Date: August 13, 2000
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 8/8/2000
Region 1, NTS
Widescreen 1.66:1 | 16x9: Yes
I first watched The Devil Rides Out when I bought the Elite laserdisc released in 1999. I literally fell in love with the movie, and because it was one of the first Hammer films I've seen, I immediately became obsessed with seeing some more Hammer films. What a gem so many of them are, but The Devil Rides Out still remains one of my favorite. Fortunately for all Hammer films out there, Anchor Bay has released The Devil Rides Out on a special edition DVD featuring all of the extras from that Elite laserdisc (THANK YOU ELITE for being so willing to license out your extras - the fans greatly appreciate it!!!) and an extra goodie exclusive to the DVD. Lets take a closer look at Anchor Bay's DVD release of The Devil Rides Out.
The film opens with Nicholas (Christopher Lee) meeting up with his friend Rex (Leon Greene) at an airfield. It seems that the Nicholas' friend Simon (Patrick Mower), a son to one of Nicholas' past best friends who is now deceased, has gotten mixed up with black magic. Nicholas, being a father figure to Simon, decides to investigate the situation with Rex. They head to the home of Mocata (Charles Gray) where they find Simon and Mocata himself, who turns out to be the head of a black magic circle of devil worshipers. Simon introduces his two friends to a beautiful young woman by the name of Tanith (Nike Arrighi), who Rex immediately takes a liking to. Simon steps away to have a quick conversation with Mocata and when he returns, he tells his two friends that they've interrupted the beginning of a meeting and must leave. Before doing that they managed to knock Simon unconscious and take him with them.
Simon's freedom doesn't last long. He's taken to Simon's home and given a cross necklace to wear as protection. As soon as Simon is alone his body becomes possessed and he begins to choke himself. One of Nicholas' servants comes in and removes the cross from Simon. He goes to tell Nicholas and when they return Simon is gone. Rex and Nicholas are determined to save Simon, however, so they head back to Mocata's. They find no living humans but do come across an evil spirit, which finally convinces Rex of the realism of black magic.
Rex attempts to take Tanith away from Mocata's control but fails. Rex and Nicholas plan a rescue attempt for both Simon and Tanith, who are both going to be baptized into Satanism the following night. They succeed in saving the two from the baptism and bring them to the home of Nicholas' friends Marie (Sarah Lawson) and Richard (Paul Eddington). Mocata has not given up yet; he tries to retrieve his two followers on his own and fails. He promises, "I will not be back. But something will, tonight." Simon, who has much knowledge in black magic, prepares for this night by surrounding himself and his friends in a circle of protection that evil forces cannot enter. But Mocata has many forces at his disposal and he uses many of them that night to try and trick people into leaving the circle. The night soon becomes a confrontation of good versus evil, with only one winner.
The Devil Rides Out is an excellent movie with great acting. Christopher Lee, as usual, gives a wonderfully convincing performance, proving that he easily play any role good or bad. In addition, Charles Gray is perfect as the evil Mocata. His eyes are a strong blue (though I suppose they could've been lenses of sorts) that work well with his hypnotism scenes. These two actors gave the strongest performances in the film, in my opinion, but the rest of the cast gave above average performance as well. Nike Arrighi as Tanith, for example, was quite convincing as a confused young woman torn between Mocata's grip and her love for Rex.
In addition to great acting, The Devil Rides Out has a great story. It has a good pace to it, not giving you any chances to become bored. The film will definitely put some chills and thrills into some, even with the dated special effects (the film was released in 1968). What helps with some of those thrills is that there's very real feeling to the story. It's not one of those films where you immediately think "hey, this could never happen in real life". You know there are people out there who worship the devil and play with black magic. Anyone with an open mind will know that there really may be evil forces out there that shouldn't be reckoned with. The Devil Rides Out is a thrilling tale of some good people who've become mixed up in all of it.
Anchor Bay Entertainment presents The Devil Rides Out an anamorphic 1.66 widescreen transfer. Given the age of the film I was extremely impressed with the transfer. Elite certainly cleaned up much of the print when it was released on laserdisc last year, but Anchor Bay went the extra mile to remaster the title, giving it at 16x9 enhancement. There's still a good number of print blemishes that appear in the form of scratches and dirt, but you really have to have quick eye to notice them because they don't remain on the screen very long. Another minor problem is that colors seemed a bid faded in some scenes, most noticeably in a few of the outdoor scenes. The rest of the transfer is superb with accurate flesh tones and a sharp, grain free image.
The Devil Rides Out audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. A fairly impressive re-mix too. Identical to the DD5.1 track on the Elite LD, the sound on this DVD has active usage on the rear speakers and the subwoofer. A lot of this is due to the soundtrack on the film, which provides lots of bass usage. Sound was crisp and clear throughout the entire film, no distortion was heard.
Anchor Bay's The Devil Rides Out DVD comes with some nice extra. The main extra, licensed from the Elite laserdisc, is the commentary track from Stars Christopher Lee and Sarah Lawson. Lee knows quite a bit about Satanism in real life and gives lots of useful information on the subject. He explains that he's read quite a few books on the subject, and I suppose starring in so many horror movies doesn't hurt either. He points out that all of the satanic objects in the film were based on real satanic objects, which I thought was interesting Another interesting tidbit is that Lee was the one to convince Hammer to create this film in the first place, as they were a bit hesitant to create a film on this subject matter back then. He even discusses how Hammer studios is talking about creating a remake of the film using the special effects technology of today and that he may even star in it once again (apparently Lee's character is much older in the book and his current age would be a better match to the character in the book). Overall there's lots of good information given in the commentary, mainly from Lee. Sarah Lawson doesn't do much talking and occasionally the two begin talking over one another which is a bit annoying. Another minor complaint is how the audio commentary sounds. I read a review on another site that describes it as, "sounding like it was recorded in a tunnel". My feelings exactly. Though the problem isn't as severe as the movie progresses. Besides that problem the commentary is very enjoyable thanks to Lee.
Exclusive to the DVD is the World of Hammer episode entitled Hammer. Various episodes have been showing up on Anchor Bay's Hammer DVD releases and I enjoy them quite a bit. Mainly because they show scenes from various Hammer movies that I have yet to see. Scenes from these Hammer films were shown in this episode:
- Camp on Blood Island (1958)
- Cloudburst (1951)
- The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
- Dracula (1958)
- Holiday on the Buses (1973)
- Men of Sherwood Forest (1954)
- One Million Years B.C. (1966)
- Plague of the Zombies (1965)
- The Nanny (1965)
- Quatermass 2 (1955)
- Quatermass and the Pit (1967)
- The Steel Bayonet (1957)
- That's Your Funeral (1972)
Definitely a cool extra and it's one you won't find on Elite's laserdisc either. Lastly, there are US and UK theatrical trailers for The Devil Rides Out.
The Devil Rides Out is a wonderful movie with superb acting. Anchor Bay has given it a high quality audio/video presentation on DVD with some very enjoyable extras. Hammer fans - BUY THIS DVD NOW! Non-Hammer fans - BUY THIS DVD NOW! Everyone else - BUY THIS DVD NOW! Those statements sum up my feelings regarding this DVD. Excellent overall value and it's a DVD no horror fan should be without.
Movie - A-
Image Quality - B
Sound - A
Supplements - B+
- Running Time - 1 hour 35 minutes
- Not Rated
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- Dolby Digital 5.1
- English and French languages
- Audio Commentary with Stars Christopher Lee and Sarah Lawson
- World of Hammer episode entitled Hammer
- US and UK Theatrical Trailer