Friday, May 24, 2013

Mark Of The Devil

Mark Of The Devil Directed By Michael Armstrong, starring Reggie Nalder(1970)
If you hate religious persecution and enjoy watching innocent people humiliated and tortured in the name of hypocrisy then you’ve got problems like I do (because I love witchburning flicks)! This one was made in Austria by Adrian Hoven and Michael Armstrong to capitalize on the success of Michael Reeves’ film Witchfinder General. That film wasn’t gruesome enough, so Hoven and Armstrong packed it with some of the most repulsive violence against women ever committed to film. If you are a genre fan though, it’s difficult to say if this would really offend you, the violence is pretty strong though. Hallmark (the same people who created It’s Only A Movie campaign for Last House On The Left, dredged up the "V for Violence" gimmick and also the free stomach distress bags)! According to The Last House On The Left book by David Szulkin, even Ann Landers lashed out and devoted a 1972 column to the “immorality of Mark Of The Devil’s ubiquitous ad campaign”. Devil made truckloads of money according to David Whitten (the man responsible for the barf bag idea) and it secured the new box office trend of mixing sex and extreme gore in the 70’s, soon after Last House would arrive. The music in this, like in Last House threatens the contrast between cornball music placed over images of violence, resonating with inappropriateness (this one is exceptionally smaltzy)! The title song of Mark Of The Devil was recently featured in Hobo With A Shotgun.
   Reggie Nalder (Salem’s Lot, Zoltan) is Albino, a terrifying local town horndog/witchfinder, who's supremely ugly with a skull like face covered in burnt flesh and those are his real life features! 
Steven Tyler: Witchfinder
   The citizens fear him, because they too could be accused and tried as witches, but encourage the cruel punishment because they are very delighted by the medieval version of reality television (hangings and innocent people burnt on ladders) and even mention how they find the sermons too boring! These people demand entertainment! He accuses the first female victim, Vanessa (Olivera Vuca) of witchcraft because he tries to force himself on her in a bar and she refuses his slimy advances.
Hand me that trademarked airsickness bag
   Christian (Udo Keir) and his henchmen disapprove of Albino’s abuse of power, but soon a more heinous and intimidating presence will show up in the form of Herb Lom (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Pink Panther) who plays the impotent Lord Cumberland. He is more hypocritical then Albino, basically because he hides behind religion. All the levels of hierarchy and throat cutting religious hysteria is the part I find most intriguing about all of these films. Udo and his relationship with the accused witch Vanessa is similar to the one in Witchfinder General, but the film is slightly more sadistic, but not a complete rip off, it stands on its own as a good euro trash exploitively unpleasant film. According to IMDB, Reeves was supposed to direct this, but unfortunately died and his assistant Michael Armstrong took over.
   The notorious scene with an overly beaten and abused girl's (Gaby Fuchs) tongue being ripped out by the roots with pincers is ordered by Lord Cumberland, very nonchalantly, almost like he’s ordering off the dollar menu at Wendys! 
   Mark Of The Devil gives the audience the impression that all men are corrupt power mad, sexually frustrated rapists, who enjoy inflicting torture, with a calm demeanor in the name of religion, saying "never weaken when doing the Lord’s work". Or just drooling morons following orders. Udo ends up sending his witchy girlfriend to the torture dungeon (sorry it’s nothing personal) and says if she is proven innocent by God, then obviously she won’t end up burnt alive! Ha! There is an underlying political context as Albino talks about how they really use the guise of the witchfinder job as a means of getting laid and robbing people, their true nature is a seething lust for blood and power. This film conveys the ignorance of authority by showing a few henchmen visiting a children’s puppet show and arresting a puppeteer and his whole family for witchcraft! They give the puppeteer the Chinese water torture treatment as one of the oppressors tries to invent a puppet out of popsicle sticks and string tied to a rabbit! The hypocrisy concerning law boils down to whoever is guilty, must be tortured until the maniacs holding the wrenches and pliers have gotten off enough to end with the innocent deaths of all who’ve been charged of heresy. This is the only film where I can tolerate Udo Keir’s anglicized voice (he’s been dubbed many times). It's been sampled by many 70's doom metal style bands like Cathedral, Electric Wizard and other Sabbath tribute bands. Highly Recommended for those with a strong stomach (but in just in case, there's that handy-dandy barf bag to use)! Available through Fandor.  

Who ordered the free range organic tongue sandwich

LSD from The Producers water torture cameo

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