Byleth: The Demon of Incest (1972)

Leopoldo Savano also made Death Falls Lightly so he had experience with the giallo. This movie may be set in the 19th century yet seeing as how it’s about a series of murders and the investigation mentions a strange three-bladed weapon, it most definitely has strains of the giallo mixed in with the gothic.

Savona based the demonic part of the film on the demon Beleth, which he read about in the book Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. Beleth or Byleth is a king of Hell who has eighty-five legions of demons under his command. When he appears, he is usually riding a pale horse and his physical form is proceeded by music. He was first invoked by Noah’s son Ham, who wrote a math book with the help of this demon. Beleth appears as a fearsome demon and will test the magician who has invoked him, demanding respect and potentially even killing them if they can’t gain control over him. When they do, he will reveal his — its? — true form of a beautiful woman who can seduce anyone and bring them into the bed of its conjurer.

Lionello Shandell (Mark Damon, The Devil’s Wedding Night) has been in love with his sister Barbara (Claudia Gravy, Two Undercover Angels) since they were children. After a year away, he returns to find her married to Giordano (Aldo Bufi Landi).

Each night, he watches them make love and then takes off for the countryside, killing a series of women who have the same red tresses as his sister. Once the maid Gisella and Giordano’s cousin Floriana are killed in the same way, Lionello becomes the main suspect. We all know he’s found his warlock father’s occult library, we know he’s the killer but we’re still surprised by the end of this film.

Byleth is the kind of Eurohorror sleaze that I love to have on in the background to remind myself that life is more than just sitting in a room writing all day, never seeing the outside world. 1972 was a wild time to be making movies in Italy and I love that this film exists.

You can get this from Severin.

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