Friday, January 25, 2013

Night of the Devils (1972)

Giorgio Ferroni is not a name that most horror fans talk about. Granted, that's most likely because he only directed two movies within the genre, but they are notable entries none the less. His first was 1960's "Mill of the Stone Woman", which came out the same year as Mario Bava's "Black Sunday" and is one of the best early Italian horror movies of all time. His other is the surreal take on the vampire film "Night of the Devils", which, while not as good as his prior horror tale, is still worth watching.

In the backwoods of Italy, Nicola (Gianni Garko) has been through hell, and is in an asylum because nobody believes his tale. His is a tale of finding a woman in the road, which leads to his car crashing. He finds what he thinks is refuge in a cabin. When patriarch Gorca (Will Vanders) tells him to leave at night, strange events revolving around buried coffins, curses and vampire turn horrific.

While the heavy exposition to the dreamlike narrative can be exhausting, and the twist at the end leaves a lot to be desired, "Night of the Devils" is for the most part a strong tale of atmospheric horror. The whole thing is all about mood, and by God this sucker is full of it. The whole thing breathes with unease, and Ferrioni understands how to draw that feeling out so that the bloody third act packs a punch. Speaking of which, the third act is pretty strong stuff for this era, sometimes capturing the poetic approach to violence that the likes of Dario Argento and even Jean Rollin would capture in their best work, whilst other times serving as brutal and uncompromising in the face of the creepy atmosphere beforehand.

It's also capably acted, with Vanders in particular standing out as the tormented head of a curse family. The direction manages to be solid throughout, as Ferrioni uses everything-fog machines, soft lighting, bright colors-to his advantage, creating the feeling of a nightmare. Oh, and the score by Giorgio Gaslini is effecting and haunting, with electronic cues, haunting strings and psych rock passages perfectly befitting the picture and it's bleak tone.

It's a shame that Giorgio Ferroni only did two horror films in his time. Watching them, I couldn't help but think that he could have become one of the celebrated names within the genre had he made more. Still, at least we have two to remind us of what he was capable of.

Rating: 8/10

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