BY GAV ELLINGER.
Fans of 70’s Euro-horror like myself will be overjoyed by RaroVideo’s new release of Giorgio Ferroni’s 1972 vampire outing The Night Of The Devils presented here on Blu-ray and DVD. Previously only seen by fans on hard to find grainy VHS transfers and until now seemingly lost in obscurity, this has to be one of the best and most celebrated releases of 2013.
The film is based on the gothic novel The Wurdulak by Tolstoy and was previously adapted for the screen in Mario Bava’s classic horror anthology Black Sabbath (1963).
After the opening credits accompanied by a haunting musical score by Giorgio Gaslini, our main character Nicola, played by Euro genre actor Gianni Garko (Sartana, Fulci’s The Psychic) is found collapsed by a river after stumbling through the woods bloodied and shaken. He finds himself waking up in a hospital with no recollection of what has happened to him. It is at this point we witness the first of many splendid gore effects with a dream sequence featuring an exploding face courtesy of Carlo Rambaldi’s excellent special effects (no cgi here kids!). Rambaldi was best known for his effects work on E.T., not to mention his work on Fulci’s A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin which was so realistic it landed him with a court appearance!
A mysterious woman called Sdenka played by Agostina Belli (Holocaust 2000, The Fifth Cord, Manaos) arrives at the hospital claiming she knows Nicola and has had a love affair with him. As Nicola’s memories return to him the story unfolds in flashback and we discover his car had broken down on a lonely forest trail and he had wandered through the woods to seek assistance. He stumbles across two men, Sdenka’s father and brother who have just been burying a family member, and invited to stay at their house until his car can be repaired the next day. Here he meets Sdenka , who claims she has never been to a city. Infact the whole family appear to be strange and reclusive and seem to be terrified of something outside living in the woods, insisting on keeping all the doors and windows locked down at night. Gradually Nicola discovers the terrifying truth behind a witches curse which has befallen the family as he tries to protect Sdenka.
An excellent atmospheric movie with beautiful photography, music, and suprisingly gory for its time. Director Ferroni was also known for previously directing the gothic horror Mill Of The Stone Women in 1960. Ferroni utilises the beautiful Yugoslavian countryside and dark forest locations to great effect creating a foreboding and terrifying sense of dread.
The supporting cast including Roberto Maldera and Teresa Gimpera all play their parts well, and Cinzia De Carolis (Cannibal Apocalypse) as the families young daughter Irina is superbly creepy.
RaroVideo USA have done a tremendous job in unleashing The Night Of The Devils in a gorgeous looking widesceen print, the colours are vibrant, and the release boasts both English and Italian audio options as well as English subtitles. I would strongly recommend fans of bizarre Italian horror cinema to check out this rarely seen gem in all its gory glory on Blu-ray or DVD.