4/24/09

Between Heaven and Hell- Week 4: The Devil's Nightmare (1971)

Picking this last entry in our journey Between Heaven and Hell proved to be quite a chore, but the last thing I want to be accused of is sloth. After all, tonight’s film proves that old adage is true; Satan does indeed love a sinner. In fact, sometimes he dreams about sinners and how he would shower them with all the love and affection he could muster, but there are occasions when the devil’s dreams turn sour and you just don’t want to be around when it takes a turn into….

The Devil’s Nightmare [Belgium: La plus longue nuit du diable] (1971) starring Erika Blanc, Jean Servais, Jacques Monseau, and Daniel Emilfork. Directed by Jean Brismée.

A group of tourists, each representing one of the 7 deadly sins, takes refuge from a storm in the Castle of Baron von Rhoneberg (Servais). Little do they know that the Baron’s family had long been cursed to serve the will of the Devil. They have been commanded to turn over their first-born daughter to Lucifer for use as a Succubus. Von Rhoneberg thinks he has escaped the curse by killing his daughter when she was a newborn, but it seems his brother had fathered a daughter (Erica Blanc) with the maid. Soon the tourists begin to meet their end at the hands of the Succubus, and the Devil (Daniel Emilfork) is so confident in his victory, he comes personally to claim the soul of the last living tourist, Father Alvin (Monseau).

The Bugg Picture

The Devil’s Nightmare is the first and only feature film from Belgian director Jean Brismée, and it was a co production between a Belgian production house, Cetelci S.A., and the Italian Delfino Film, which also produced the Mario Bava film Four Times that Night. While his singular feature film is not a work of a great master, it surprises me that Brismée never made another film. The Devil’s Nightmare is a competent and entertaining piece of early seventies European sleaze.  

The film gets high marks right off the bat by casting the luscious redhead Erica Blanc as the Succubus. Perhaps better known for starring as Emmanuelle in Io, Emmanuelle, the film that spawned a jillion imitators and sequels. She also appeared in a couple of favorites here at the Lair, The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave and Mario Bava’s Kill, Baby, Kill. Looking as lovely as always, Blanc slinks though her scenes in a variety of outfits that would look more at home in a disco than a castle, but even more striking is her transformation when she takes a life. This is the only film that Paul de Fru handled the special effects, as he usually worked either as a camera operator or as cinematographer, and keeping the transformation simple and relying on stage makeup techniques and camera tricks was a wise choice. It beings another layer to Blanc’s performance, and allows this low budget feature to have some visually impressive flair. 

While each of the characters is given their moment to shine, and since I watched this with Ms. Directed, we had a fine time trying to peg each person with their sin early on. The two characters I most enjoyed were the gluttonous tour guide Ducha (Christian Maillet) and the slothful and cranky Mr. Mason (Lucian Raimbourg). Each of the sinners is given a death scene, and many of them fit their crime such as when the glutton chokes to death and a greedy lady drowns in gold. There are several that don’t really match up, and I do wish that they had been but more pointed. This would have been a major improvement to the film. One of the biggest blunders the film makes is that our hero, Father Alvin (Monseau) is rather dull and uninteresting. Thankfully, he shares many of his scenes with Ms. Blanc, and that makes his character much more tolerable. I would also have very much enjoyed more scenes with the Baron’s butler. I really enjoyed his calm creepiness as he described all the ghastly goings which had previously befallen the house. 

This is The Devil’s Nightmare after all. Therefore, I do want to take a few moments to talk about Old Scratch here. Daniel Emilfork is one strange looking dude, and his slight form and leering gaze bring his devil to life quite elegantly. This is not the brute devil, but I think more inspired by Ekerot’s Death in Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. It is a brief performance, but one which definitely was an inspired and daring choice. 

While The Devil’s Nightmare will never go down in the annals of history as an incredible film, it is a highly entertaining way to spend 95 minutes. This film is available on many low priced box sets, and for anyone with Netflix, it is currently part of their “Watch It Now” movies on demand. It never reaches beyond the average, but I would have liked to see where Jean Brismée might have taken his next feature. 



Bugg Rating






JOIN US BACK HERE NEXT WEEK WHEN THE NEW FRIDAY FEATURE BEGINS! AND YOU WONT BELIEVE HOW CRAZY IT'S GOING TO BE!


4 comments:

  1. never heard of this film, but you have given me reason to keep an eye out for it. Great review!

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  2. I enjoyed this one too....more than I thought I would. A very fun flick.

    Quiet Riot? Can't wait to see what you have in store for next week.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Spot on review. I saw it on one of those tv channels that show public domain films and scratchy old prints of stuff.

    I did buy a copy later but its so far down the to be re watched pile that I fear it will not get played.

    It was just err, okayish

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