When I tell you that I love Italian cinema and especially those works that fall under the horror or giallo varietals, you can say, “well we fucking knew that James P. TERROR”. What you may not know or at least I may not allude to often that I have no seen everything under the sun (nooooo… YESSSS!). Like every genre fan I am still growing my taste buds; learning what’s out there and admiring and enjoying new directors, composers and actors all the time. That brings us to the movie for which I will provide a review for you today. Night of the Devils from 1972 as released by Raro Video Giorgio Ferroni is the second Italian feature in only two weeks that I have “discovered” and adored and consider one of my new favorite films even though it was released a long long time ago on a continent far far away.
Gianni Garko plays an insane man admitted to a psychiatric institution that no one can identify. While in ward, he starts having flashbacks of what brought him there. He starts to remember how his car broke down and when he went looking for help he came upon a strange man burying his dead son. Strange scenes of the macabre ensue leading up to the gruesome night with this backwoods family who secrets are slowly revealed. What strange curse is this family hiding?
For those of you unfamiliar with Ferroni’s work I am with you. I did not realize that Ferroni was responsible for Mill of the Stone Women. That movie itself I just learned about at the Italian Splatterfest at the Colonial Theater last year during one of their inspired trailer reels. Well as it turns out Mill is a bit of a cult classic. So is Night of the Devils. Italian horror and genre fans have been lauding its merits for decades. I can simply say that the appeal is still there.
What horror fans are gonna love: the in your face Crayola red gore of the early 70’s and attention to body mutilation. Think Blood Feast lite with plenty of actual plot, attention to detail rather than a loop of gory shorts strung together with an arbitrary plot. You’ll also love the mention of the Vourdalak. As Chris Alexander mentions in the intro, the Vourdalak comes from a common folk tale that has inspired other Italian works, most notably Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath. In that sense I feel that a horror fan might take poetic or viewership license and make them sister films. Enjoy them together and revel in the various interpretation of the vampire-like creature that stalks the night and dies ever so well. Giorgio Gaslini’s score is superb and will be admired by fans of giallo and Italian movies of the late 60’s up through the 70’s. There’s a lengthy interview with Gaslini on the Blu-ray, but alas, it may be for the composer dorks and not for the general horror fan. I last about 20 minutes in and then realized that I had very little sphere of understanding to grasp the world that Gaslini was weaving. The cast is superb, acting is overdramatic (and the movie better for it) and slightly too obscure for me to know about with any competency. Roberto Maldera was in The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave which is an absolute blessing of a movie. The actress who plays Sdenka, Agostina Belli, had a walk on roll in my heart.
This is not for folks who dislike Italian cinema or European cinematic efforts of the 1970’s. The blood/gore may be fun but it certainly isn’t realistic. The acting is ever so melodramatic and the complete lack of regard for clothing may offend some (that means you see NUDITY… wooo hooo!). Ooo… what’s that you say? Nudity is a good thing? Well, Puritans be damned, this will be surely a night for all ye devils to enjoy.
As a fan of this era in Italian cinema it will be a must watch and available through DiabolikDVD HERE (though at the moment it is out of stock... AGAIN!...Popular movie). Make sure to pick it up on Blu or DVD and get it while you can. Who knows when they’ll stop pressing this awesome release. The Blu-ray came with a rather handsome booklet in addition to traditional artwork cover and dust sleeve that kinda made me piddle with delight (piddle is a technical terms). The best part of catching this one is that it reassured me, as did my recent foray with Contamination, that there’s so many great genre films to watch. I haven’t exhausted them all. There fountain is flowing and the more we support DiabolikDVD and Raro, the better releases we will get and the more obscure classics will emerge.