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The Devil Rides Out (Blu-ray Review)

Well, we are now almost  solid year into Scream Factory giving us a regular dose of classic Hammer Horror films on Blu-ray for the first time (Some the second) in the United States. And I have to say, its been quite a valiant effort. Next up this month of October, more of the more well revered films in the lexicon, The Devil Rides Out (Or as the title card says when you select the standard Play Movie option, “The Devil’s Bride”). This one has the hallmarks of Terrence Fisher and Christopher Lee attached to it as well as Dennis Wheatley. Previous released on a UK Studio Canal Blu-ray (That transfer is offered as a bonus feature here), it carries over those bonus features as well as adding some unique to this release. Its not a Collector’s Edition, but honestly its just as impressive and better than some of those. You can have this one in your Collection by ordering it from the Shout! Factory website or by using the Amazon link at the bottom of this page.

Film 

When the Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) arrive at a fashionable party thrown by de Richleau’s protégé, Simon Aron (Patrick Mower), they soon realize that the party is in fact a gathering of a Satanic cult, led by the high priest Mocata (Charles Gray), that plans to initiate the beautiful Tanith (Nike Arrighi) that night. It’s up to de Richleau and Van Ryn to defeat the devil-worshiping Mocata and save innocent young Tanith and the others from a terrible fate.

Hammer icons Christopher Lee and director Terrence Fisher reunite for The Devil Rides Out in what is definitely one of their top efforts. The film really hits the ground running and has a great pace, mystery and successfully twists and turns to keep you guessing, surprised and slightly on the edge of your seat. The film doesn’t spoon feed and lets details fill in and come as they naturally filter into the story. We’re just as lost as our lead who meets up with Lee to go visit an old friend. Part of the fun of the movie is discovering stuff and piecing together things with him.

Riding out with this devil brings many of the great aspects of Hammer films, and in some of their best forms. You get lovely sets in this film even if they aren’t the normal in the past Gothic beauties you’re used to. They have a great sense of style and color to them. There is also some fun campiness, as really with Charles Gray (AKA nobody’s favorite Blofeld) its hard not too. And then there are some great, freaky horror things going on here too with the cult stuff and baphomet. Seriously baphomet is pretty creepy looking in this.

I’ll admit to being a newbie with The Devil Rides Out, but I’m joining the fan club now. People who don’t even like most of the Hammer stuff may want to check this one out. If you’re into weird, disturbing cult movies, this is probably for you. Though its not super weird, most can easily follow it, moreso just so you can see a sort of genesis of later, similar films. This is definitely a fun bit of a kind of mystery-chase film and Christopher Lee is absolutely excellent in it.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 (You can choose to watch the Scream Factory one “The Devil’s Bride” or the Studio Canal transfer on “The Devil Rides Out”. Same film, different title).

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: The Devil Rides Out from Scream Factory features a 2K scan of the 20th Century Fox interpositive (also included as a bonus feature is the Studio Canal restored master). This actually looks pretty damn beautiful right from the opening credits and throughout the entire film. The movie is crisp, has a really clean print that is in terrific shape. Details come quite easily in the image to degrees you’ll be impressed with.

Depth: Solid, clean discernible spacing available between foreground and background lending to smooth and enjoyable camera movements. Characters and motioning objects ride through the frame smoothly with no issues.

Black Levels: Blacks are pretty deep and lean toward the natural side, retaining plenty of detail and having no issues with crushing.

Color Reproduction: Colors pop gorgeously in this transfer. The opening credits have reds and greens that leap off the screen with their glow. In the feature, clothing and upholstery really flash something beautiful here.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from beginning to end of the film. Details on faces and skin textures are pretty clean and discernible from reasonable distances.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The Devil Rides Out rides onto Blu-ray with its original mono track intact. It sounds quite clean and like the video it accompanies, is in very good shape. There is a nice balance between the effects, music and vocals in this mix. Devil also has some good impact and deeper tones than one might be expecting, providing for a more engaging experience.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Clean with a hint of an analog hiss.

Extras 

The Devil Rides out features a reversible cover showcasing foreign poster art.

Audio Commentary

  • With author/film historian Steve Haberman, filmmaker/film historian Constantine Nasr and author/screenwriter Richard Christian Matheson
  • With Christopher Lee and Sarah Lawson

Satanic Shocks: Kim Newman Recalls The Devil Rides Out (HD, 29:59) – Author/film historian Kim Newman discusses The Devil Rides Out. Newman gives an excited interview as he talks about The Devil Rides Out and gives some artistic insight on many of the players behind and in front of the camera for the film and the historical context of it all.

Folk Horror Goes Haywire (HD, 24:08) – Author/film historian Jonathan Rigby discusses The Devil Rides Out. While he appears on a few other documentaries, this is a new interview where he gets to analyze and digest it in a solo efforts as he discusses one of “Hammer’s greatest achievements.”

Black Magic: The Making of The Devil Rides Out (HD, 34:59)  – Screenwriter Richard Matheson, Marcus Hearn, Dennis Meilke, Jonathan Rigby, Phil Baker, Mark Gatiss, and the children of effect man Michael Stainer Hutchins and more take us through the making of this classic Hammer film.

Dennis Wheatley at Hammer (HD, 13:14) – Phil Baker (Dennis Wheatley biographer) and author Jonathan Rigby give us the history of Dennis Wheatley’s work as an author and at Hammer.

World of Hammer Episode “Hammer” (SD, 25:53)

Trailers (SD, 5:02)

Image Gallery (HD, 4:37)

Summary 

The Devil Rides Out is one of Hammer Horror’s overall finest hours and a wonderful bit of good culty, devlish fun. Scream Factory brings it to Blu-ray in its most respectable release yet, enhancing things from the previous UK release with a new transfer and offering the old one. Add to the mix porting over existing bonus features and adding new ones, you have yourself an easy winner.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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