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THE DEVIL RIDES OUT ($30) ranks amongst director Terence Fisher's greatest works, and of the Hammer titles currently available on DVD, the film that I would rate a true masterpiece of the horror genre. Based upon the novel by Dennis Wheatley, Richard Matheson's taut screenplay tells an intelligent story of good versus evil. THE DEVIL RIDES OUT stars Christopher Lee as the wealthy Duc de Richleau, who becomes concerned when his young friend Simon Aaron (Patrick Mower) does not show up for an annual gathering. Since no one has seen young Simon since Christmastime, the Duc and his friend Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) are naturally concerned, so they pay an unexpected call on Simon. When they arrive at his home, they discover that Simon has joined an "astrological society" which he claims has been taking up all of his free time.

The Duc is quick to realize that the "astrological society" is nothing but a front for a group of devil worshipers, who are lead by the sinister, but enigmatic, Mocata (Charles Gray). What ensues is a life and death battle between Duc de Richleau and Mocata's evil forces for the possession of Simon's soul, as well as that of the beautiful young Tanith (Nike Arrighi). The cast of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT also features Sarah Lawson, Gwen Ffrangcon Davies, Paul Eddington, Rosalyn Landor and Russell Waters. THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is a superior Hammer film in every way, thanks to Terence Fisher's sharply focused direction, which ekes every last drop of horror and suspense from the story. Not to be slighted, the strong central performances of Christopher Lee and Charles Gray make this Hammer classic, a horror film that is not easily forgotten.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done an absolutely smashing job with their DVD edition of THE DEVIL RIDES OUT. The wide screen presentation comes fairly close to the film's 1.66:1 proportions and the DVD is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. There are very few flaws in the film element used for the transfer and the image is always crisp and very well defined. Colors are beautifully rendered on the DVD, and the vibrant hues make me believe that Technicolor credit on the print is quite legitimate. Flesh tones appear very healthy, plus the highly saturated crimson reds are reproduced without a sign of chromatic distortion or bleeding. Blacks are a deep inky black and the picture serves up an impressive level of shadow detail for a 1968 production. There are absolutely no problems with digital compression artifacts on this beautifully authored, dual layer DVD. For this release,

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT sports a brand new Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack created by the fine folks at Chase Productions. Considering the film's age and other limitations, I have to say that I'm rather impressed with how good the new mix sounds. Right off the bat, let me say that James Bernard's wonderful score receives most of the benefits from the re-mix. However, this new mix does create an enveloping atmosphere, which also provides precise placement for individual sound effects. Effects are also panned across the soundstage in a very convincing manner. The surround channels are fairly active, providing both ambient sound and musical fill. A French monaural soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD.

The interactive menus include a bit of animation and sound, but are fairly conventional. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, plus a few supplements. THE DEVIL RIDES OUT includes an audio commentary with cast members Christopher Lee, Sarah Lawson, as well as Marcus Hearn, the author of The Hammer Story. Any commentary track with Christopher Lee is a cause for a celebration, since it gives fans the unique opportunity to hear a wealth of information coming directly from one of the most important figures in all horror cinema. The commentary track certainly doesn't disappoint, with its first hand account of the production and the personalities involved in creating one of the most notable of all Hammer horror movies. Other supplements include U.S. and U.K. theatrical trailers, plus a World Of Hammer episode entitled HAMMER.

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT is a genuine Hammer masterwork that should not be missed. Anchor Bay Entertainment has produced an absolutely superb DVD, worthy of this marvelous horror film. Absolutely recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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