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MARK OF THE DEVIL
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Reviewed by: Andre Manseau

Directed by: Michael Armstrong

Starring:
Herbert Lom
Udo Kier
Johannes Buzalski
Dorothea Carrera
GŁnter Clemens

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
The demented Count Cumberland (Herbert Lom), is an Austrian nobleman who implements the witch-hunting policies of the Inquisition as a means of obtaining land, riches, and nubile young wenches -- particularly the lovely Vanessa (Olivera Vuco), who has been accused of heresy and witchcraft. Cumberland's accomplice in the torture and terror, Baron Christian Von Mem (Udo Kier), realizes that his mentor is the true evil stalking the land, not the terrified innocents whose "witch trials" are a mockery of justice.
Is it good movie?
This goofy old movie came across my desk with a vomit bag attached to it, which immediately got my attention. It was even originally rated "V" for all of the violence within (and no, that wasn't a real rating..just clever marketing)!

Anywho, this one really isn't as violent as the package would have you believe, and if you've seen any other exploitative old gore films (Cannibal Holocaust, or perhaps the Faces of Death series), you'll be fine watching this one despite a couple of nasty scenes.

The plot here is kind of tough to follow. The whole thing is set in the 18th century (and looks pretty good, too), and deals with young Udo Kier as he struggles with the difficult consequences of killing innocent people who are thought of as witches or something (he falls in love with one of them you see, and witnesses the corruption of his infallible leader). There are counts, usurpers, witch hunters and executioners. Really though, there isn't a lot of plot to speak of as the majority of the film seems intent on showing women being tortured and raped.

And there's plenty of violence to go around! People get burned, people get beat up, there's some nasty (and weird) eye stuff, crunched up extremeties and plenty of rape to go around. The story itself is just ugly and messy- people stealing, beating, torturing and violating each other. Of course the big payoff is seeing a tongue ripped out of a woman's mouth. And although the story is utterly a front, when Udo Kier finally sees the light, it just makes no sense. The guy tortured people in chambers for years and still manages to have a heavy heart? I don't think so.

Ultimately, I just don't really know why anyone would seek this out. Sure, it has its infamous moments or whatever but it is of course dated and downright tame in some aspects today. If you're really into exploitation, I suppose this would be a necessary staple for your collection. However, if you don't love seeing naked women quivering on tables with various torture devices causing them great pain, you might not enjoy this.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in Widescreen but is just ugly, no matter how you slice it. It's grainy, dull looking and just plain nasty.

Audio is presented in Mono, and it's also unremarkable, soft and muffled, not pretty.
The Extras
The only real extra is the barf bag replica- other than that, there's these weird Drive-in styled ads for refreshments and things like that.
Last Call
Sure, it's a video nasty and has gained some notoriety. Mark of the Devil is still not a well made film though, and doesn't quite live up to the hype. Still though, if you're an ardent collector, you might want to pick up the far-more-loaded Blue Underground edition from '04..although it doesn't have a collectible vomit bag.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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