The Devil Rides Out (1968) is a classic for fans of Hammer films. Based on Dennis Wheatley’s bestseller about satanic happenings in London’s Home Counties, the film was a hit on its first release and has remained popular ever since.

The Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) are concerned for their young friend Simon Aron (Patrick Mower), who has fallen in with a questionable society led by the mysterious Mocata (Charles Gray). When Richleau and Rex discover the sinister occult practices that are really going on behind the society’s innocuous front, they have to hurry if they want to save Simon and his soul from a fate worse than death.

With Terrance Fisher directing, and Lee and Gray leading in front of the camera, the production has just the right degree of gravity to add to, and yet not overwhelm, a plot which races along at a cracking pace. And while Hammer stumbled in later years (their 1970s series of contemporary Dracula films were horrific for all the wrong reasons), the secret of The Devil Rides Out’s lasting popularity is that everything, despite the total preposterousness of the situation, is approached with such seriousness by all involved that the viewer can’t help but enjoy indulging in it as well.

By Cleaver Patterson

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