Devils Of Darkness (1968)

Devils Of Darkness, with its foggy graveyards, busty wenches and explosive finale, is practically Hammer-by-numbers, despite not being made by that iconic company. It’s also absolute rubbish, with no saving graces at all, including having one of the crappest vampire baddies committed to celluloid in the laughable form of Count Sinistre. Just staying awake through the useless tosser’s pointless attempts to do whatever it is he’s trying to do took a huge effort on this reviewer’s part. And even then I had to rewind the tape just to check I hadn’t dropped off, because the ending made no sense. I hadn’t. The ending just didn’t make any sense.

Sinistre (Hubert Noel, a made-up name if ever I heard one – although not as bad as the director’s – Lance Comfort, which sounds like the kind of condoms spam e-mails try and sell you) starts off the film by killing a gipsy girl on her wedding day, then waking her from her grave, explaining: “You will follow me until the end of time…”

Many years later (probably hundreds of them, I already didn’t care), two trendy young couples arrive at a nearby hotel. British brother and sister Anne and Keith Forrest (Rona Anderson and Geoffrey Kenion) are there to do some potholing, and Americans Paul Baxter and Madeleine Braun (William Sylvester and Diana Decker) are on holiday. After Madeleine is killed, Paul pledges to find out what happened. It turns out that the village they are staying in is overrun with the evil, devil-worshipping followers of Count Sinistre, who’s after a talisman Paul has managed to pick up. The dirty Count is also quite interested in every gorgeous girl who happens to come along. Eventually, everything explodes for no reason.

Devils Of Darkness is simply a huge load of old nonsense – another one of those films (like Blood Of The Vampire or The Blood Beast Terror) which has helped damage the reputation of Hammer, whose films were infinitely more respectable but ended up getting tarred with the same brush.

The makers seem so intent on giving us a swinging time (“Vodka? With it?” / “With it? I’ll say she is”) that they’ve forgotten to give Sinistre any reasons for what he does. Plot expediency sees the police keep their cynicism for approximately two minutes before suddenly believing all Paul’s wild theories about vampires on the loose, and the cast, although mainly attractive, are wooden and dull. The film’s only saving grace comes when Karin the gorgeous shop girl (Tracy Reed ) wakes up after being initiated into Sinistre’s coven, only to find that she cannot stand up and collapses with a comedy thud. Which is hardly a recommendation.

Director: Lance Comfort; Writer: Lyn Fairhurst

Cast: William Sylvester - Paul Baxter; Hubert Noël - Arman du Moliere, le comte sinistre; Diana Decker - Madeleine Braun; Tracy Reed - Karin Steele; Carole Gray - Tania; Victor Brooks - Insp. Hardwick; Peter Illing - Insp. Malin; Rona Anderson - Anne Forest; Eddie Byrne - Dr. Robert Kelsey; Gerard Heinz - Bouvier (hotel manager); Rod McLennan - Dave; Geoffrey Kenion - Keith Forrest; Marianne Stone - The Duchess; Avril Angers - Midge; Brian Oulton - The colonel; Walter Brown - Bruno; Marie Burke - Gypsy woman; John Taylor - Sgt. Miller; Frank Forsyth ; Murray Kash - Gypsy chief; Burnell Tucker - Derek; Margaret Denver - Tania's mother; Julie Mendez - Snake dancer; Olwen Brookes - Landlady; Billy Milton.

Last updated: February 22, 2010

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