Plot: The ex-Nazi Baron von Rhoneberg (Jean Servais) resides in an eerie, old castle and while visitors are infrequent, on this night, he finds himself playing host to a number of guests. When seven tourists wind up lost in the roads near the castle, they seek refuge within its walls, which might not have been the wisest of choices. Rhoneberg welcomes the seven guests however, though his butler is quick to relate the story of how the Baron is cursed and reveal the bloody past of the castle. As he guides each of the tourists to their rooms, he rattles off a few tidbits of visceral information, centering on how died within that particular room and how. But all the deaths, as creepy as they might be, still aren’t the most dangerous thing about the Baron’s residence, as a succubus is said to roam the castle’s halls. And this proves to be true when she takes on human form (Erika Blanc) and begins to slaughter the tourists one by one, until she finds herself faced with the one guest who has her figured out.
Entertainment Value: The Devil’s Nightmare is a memorable slice of Eurohorror, one that is bathed in style and atmosphere, the kind of movie that draws you in and keeps you enraptured. I do think the first half of the movie runs a little slow, but the visuals and atmosphere are able to compensate, so the film is never dull, just more deliberate until the second half kicks off. And the last half of The Devil’s Nightmare brings the heat to be sure, so the atmospheric approach yields benefits and those slower stretches aren’t for no reason. I have to think most viewers will be fine with the focus on atmosphere, as the film has a gothic texture and fans of the genre are accustomed to mood over gore or fast paced action. The narrative is interesting and is rooted in the seven deadly sins, but plays out in less predictable fashion than you might think, given how common the sins are used as narrative devices in cinema. The cast also shines here, especially Erika Blanc who is radiant and commands the screen, in the kind of performance that horror fans live to experience. I have to think genre fans with even a slight appreciation for gothic or Eurohorror cinema will want to see this one.
This movie has an erotic current to be sure, but doesn’t have as much actual nudity or sleaze as you might think. The highlight is a lesbian love scene that packs in a lot of naked flesh, but even in that sequence, the sexual content isn’t graphic. So you’ll see some bare breasts in several scenes and that lesbian tryst is memorable, but don’t count on gratuitous or over the top sleaze here. There is some bloodshed, but the violence again isn’t graphic or excessive, just used to put the exclamation mark on the film’s death sequences. A nice guillotine scene provides a proper decapitation, an iron maiden is put to good use, a snake slithers into bed with a woman, a great fall leads to an unpleasant landing, and a cat meets an unfortunate end, so while not soaked in crimson, the film doesn’t exactly skimp either. The dialogue is fine and well performed, but this isn’t a wacky or over the top movie, so there’s not much as far as awkward, insane, or wild exchanges to speak of. That carries over to overall craziness, as this is more about stylish, gothic horror driven by atmosphere, so the tone is serious and there isn’t much chaos or madness to mention. But I do love Daniel Emilfork as Satan, so that alone earns a point or two toward the score.
Overall Insanity: 2/10
The Disc: The movie hits Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro in a new transfer taken from the original negative, a treatment that makes it safe to retire the previous editions. This version is much cleaner and sharper than those old discs, starting with a super clean print that allows a lot of detail to come through. This includes some remarkable fine detail, giving us a much more refined visual presence. No concerns with colors or contrast either, so once again, Mondo Macabro delivers a top tier, definitive visual treatment. The extras include almost an hour and a half of interviews, a film historian audio commentary track, and four of the film’s trailers. If you explore these extras, you will find a wealth of insights into not only how this movie was made, but the genre and regional cinematic landscape as well.
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