EDITOR’S NOTE: Cannon did not produce this movie but released it on video in Denmark on the Cannon/Mayco label.
Between Venom, To the Devil a Daughter and this movie, Peter Sykes is an unappreciated creator of early 70s scummy horror. Written by Christopher Wicking (Cry of the Banshee, Scream and Scream Again), this movie combines insanity, mesmerism, religious fervor, incest, Satanic possession and just plain British weirdness to make the kind of movie that we watch on a rainy Sunday.
Baron Friedrich Zorn (Robert Hardy) keeps his children Emil (Shane Briant) and Elizabeth (Gillian Hills) locked up and away from one another, lest they make sweet sweet brother and sister love in the name of the devil. After all, his own wife had a madness like theirs that led to her suicide in front of both of them — or maybe he just wouldn’t sleep with her any longer and she got so upset at the loss of getting some of little Friedrich that she offed herself — so they both must be constantly treated to the bloodletting that takes out the evil flowing through their bodies.
Meanwhile — if that’s not enough –women s are being murdered in the woods and covered with rose petals. The townspeople think demons are to blame and by the end of the movie, they go absolutely beyond wild and try to wipe out the cause. There’s also Doctor Falkenberg (Patrick Magee) who has a carny method of curing the evil out of the Zorn progeny; he intends to get a village woman named Inge (Virginia Wetherell) to portray their dead mother in a strange roleplaying exercise while another young local named Carl (Paul Jones, who once sang for Manfred Mann) falls for Elizabeth. And oh yeah — maybe the Baron is more to blame than anyone.
Gillian Hills was a last minute replacement for Marianne Faithful, but the early 70s were not a good time for her, as she lost her son and was dealing with heroin addiction, anorexia and living on the streets. She wasn’t able to be insured for this movie.
I’m a lover of late period Hammer, as they move away from the classics and start to make their own weird little movies. Of course, they’re often filled with lots of nudity, madness and Satanic forces, so…look, I’m weak and I love what I love.