Top positive review
A MASTERPIECE!!! Hugely Atmospheric & Stylish with Great Gore FX (courtesy of Carlo Rimbaldi). 70's Euro-Horror At Its Best!!!
on December 14, 2017
Oh God, where to begin? First off, bare essentials. Raro Video's DVD release of Giorgio Ferroni's flat-out classic NIGHT OF THE DEVILS (La Notte dei Diavoli) from 1972 is quite superb. In addition to offering the film in a new HD transfer with improved English subtitles, this package includes an excellent bonus feature in the form of a video interview with Fangoria Magazine's Chris Alexander who does a top-notch job at putting this awesome film within the context of Italian/Spanish horror film history and very colorfully discusses the film's history, technical aspects and aesthetic features. This interview with Chris Alexander serves as a perfect introduction to the film (though it contains a few spoilers so you may want to wait until after viewing the film to watch this great bonus feature). There is also an interview with legendary composer Giorgio Gaslini (DEEP RED) on his awesome score for NIGHT OF THE DEVILS, etc. The English trailer as well as a very rad 12 page booklet on the film's history, critical reception, another excellent interview with composer Giorgio Gaslini, the film's poster art, film stills, etc. is also included. So for all intensive purposes Raro Video get a huge thumbs up for their excellent presentation of this masterpiece.
NIGHT OF THE DEVILS is based upon the Leo Tolstoy story "The Wurdulak" concerning a cursed, backwoods family who have degenerated into fear and madness. The film is told via a series of wildly gory (the legendary Carlo Rimbaldi did the film's killer fx) and perverse but erotic flashbacks which are endured by the film's protagonist: a nameless, bleeding man who was found on the edge of the woods and due to his catatonic state is now a patient in a mental hospital. It turns out that this man was a business man from England who had travelled to the dark woods of Italy on business as representative of a lumber operation. Upon entering the woods he nearly strikes a woman in black, resulting in his car crashing into a tree. He quickly makes contact with a very strange family who bolt and shutter the doors and windows at precisely 6PM every night and seem to be harboring some dreadful secrets. Despite getting his car repaired with help from one of the members of the family he quickly realizes that he is trapped in the woods with the family as things get rapidly out of control.
Without spoiling the fun, let's just say that the family are the last remnants of a once thriving community (all of whom have left) but live under a horrible curse which results in the living dead. Not zombies, but rather animated corpses who are controlled by the powers of witchcraft. When killed these "living dead" creatures melt (ala EVIL DEAD, a film which, among many other, must have been influenced by NIGHT OF THE DEVILS). Things get complicated when having fallen in love with one of family's beautiful women, our protagonist attempts to extricate her from the house in the woods only to result in an unforgettable climax which takes place within the confines of the mental institution.
Some of you may be thinking, "damn, this sounds familiar." If so, you're correct as Tolstoy's classic tale was also used as the basis of the classic Mario Bava film BLACK SABBATH. However, by 1972 the film industry had "evolved" in regards to violence, gore, nudity, etc. since the making of Bava's film, allowing director Giorgio Ferroni to go full-throttle with NIGHT OF THE DEVILS. However, rather than just making some shitty exploitation version of Tolstoy's tale, Ferroni (like Bava) was intent on retaining the atmospheric details necessary to make a truly creepy film. In many senses the extremely atmospheric style of NIGHT OF THE DEVILS has much in common with 60's Italian horror films and of course Hammer films. However, with the very tasteful and stylized use of brief flashbacks, quite extreme images of brutal violence (this isn't H.G. Lewis gore, but rather realistic gore one would expect in the classic 70's Italian films of Argento and Fulci) and explicit nudity are brilliantly utilized and Ferroni's NIGHT OF THE DEVILS ended up helping to signal the birth of 70's Italian horror, foreshadowing the brilliance of Argento, Fulci, etc. So in a sense NIGHT OF THE DEVILS is a perfect historical bridge between early and modern horror filmmaking in Italy.
There really is so little negative to say about NIGHT OF THE DEVILS. It is quite simply a masterpiece and a must see film for all fans of well-made 1970's horror with strong acting, great plot, a strong gothic touch and heavy occult overtones mixed with wildly gory flashbacks and a sense of extreme paranoia. It's just a damn fine film...NIGHT OF THE DEVILS is the perfect film to just shut off the lights, take a few tokes, and watch. It's hallucinatory style coupled with the awesome score by composer Giorgio Gaslini make the film a true pleasure and will likely leave you wondering how this film is not considered a full-blown classic by all 70's horror fans. Thankfully, its status as a lost classic can now be remedied due to this very affordable and high quality Raro Video DVD release! For 1972 Italian horror cinema it really does not get any better than NIGHT OF THE DEVILS! A full-blown masterpiece of gory, gothic horror based off one of the most well-written horror tales ever created...One of those rare horror films you'll find yourself returning to for repeated viewings, a testament to Giorgio Ferroni's skill as a director. Gaslini's talent as a composer, and Rimbaldi's skilled special effects. Euro-horror at its best....