MARK OF THE DEVIL (HEXEN BIS AUFS BLUT GEQUALT)
(director/writer: Michael Armstrong/Adrien Hoven; cinematographer: Ernst W. Kalinke; editor: Siegrun Jäger; music: Michael Holm; cast: Udo Kier (Count Christian von Meruh), Herbert Lom (Lord Cumberland), Reggie Nalder (Albino), Olivera Vuco (Vanessa Benedikt), Herbert Fux (Jeff Wilkens – Executioner); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Adrien Hoven; Cheezy Flicks Entertainment (Arrow); 1970-West Germany-dubbed)
“The pic lacks the substance that made Michael Reeves’ The Conqueror Worm a horror classic, as it too easily settles in to be solely a shocker torture-porn flick.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A garish violent cult exploitation horror pic; a copycat film of The Conqueror Worm (1968). The film wants us to believe it’s taken from real cases, even if that seems a stretch. It’s helmed as a sadistic gore pic by Michael Armstrong(“Screamtime”/”Horror House”) and co-director Adrien Hoven. It was censored by the Brits and never received a theatrical release there. Though perverse it was well-received by an adventurous American audience, who on its theater release the patrons were provided vomit bags.
It takes place in the Austria of 1700, where the Church organizes witch hunts. Herbert Lom plays a sadistic general who catches witches and makes them confess by using the rack. Udo Kier plays his aristocratic young protege, who when he falls for a barmaid (Olivera Vuco) accused of being a witch comes at last to his senses over using torture to get those confessions and rebels against the system. It’s most repulsive scene shows a beautiful woman about to get her tongue pulled off by its roots.
The pic lacks the substance that made Michael Reeves’ The Conqueror Worm a horror classic, as it too easily settles in to be solely a shocker torture-porn flick.
The West German trashy import was the first film in England rated “V for Violence,” as it set a precedent for Euro-trash films.
REVIEWED ON 10/25/2015 GRADE: C+