Devil's Nightmare is a pretty impressive Belgian gothic horror film from 1971. The movie begins with a Nazi officer's wife giving birth during the collapse of the Third Reich; when he finds out the child is a girl, the officer, Baron von Rhoneberg, is rather displeased and shows his unhappiness in a pretty compelling way. Then we jump to the present day to find seven tourists f...
Devil's Nightmare is a pretty impressive Belgian gothic horror film from 1971. The movie begins with a Nazi officer's wife giving birth during the collapse of the Third Reich; when he finds out the child is a girl, the officer, Baron von Rhoneberg, is rather displeased and shows his unhappiness in a pretty compelling way. Then we jump to the present day to find seven tourists forced to seek a night's shelter at the castle of von Rhoneberg (apparently Belgium had no hotels in 1971). Personally, the sight of the castle door opening all by itself would be enough to convince me to just sleep on the bus, but the seven tourists all rush inside to escape a sudden rainstorm. Along with the melancholy and mysterious Baron, the guests are welcomed by a sour puss of a serving lady and a rather grim butler type who has served the Baron since World War II. This guy delights in telling the guests just who died in what way and in what year in each of the bedrooms he assigns them. The tourists are not exactly rays of sunshine themselves. There is a greedy woman and her cheating husband, an ornery old man, a seminarian studying to become a priest, a pretty disgusting tour guide, a lazy blonde lady, and an especially lovely flirt whose hobby is collecting men. The castle is a perfectly gothic little setting, featuring an attic with a good selection of implements of torture, dark and intricate hallways, gloomy towers and balustrades, an alchemist's lab, etc.-basically everything a spooky old castle needs to have. Later that night, a sultry redhead arrives in the form of Erika Blanc, whose character turns out to be a little unusual. Before all the guests turn in for the night, they are naturally told the story of the ancient von Rhoneberg curse, a large part of which deals with each family member's eldest daughter being a succubus. After a good hour crafting the proper atmosphere for the film, characters finally start dying, each death patterned on one of the seven deadly sins. This succubus doesn't do the things a succubus is supposed to do, never going farther than a little flirting with the priest in training, but I suppose the results are what really count. Having a priest in the way presents something of a challenge, but Satan is more than read to step in if problems arise.
I wouldn't call this film scary at all, nor is it too graphic (except for the disgusting scene wherein we have to watch the tour guide eat). The succubus' facial expressions when she is exerting her power are overdone to the point of being sort of silly, but Satan knows how to play his hand close to the vest. There is some light nudity and just a little female hanky-panky, which I was a little surprised to find in a movie from 1971. Erika Blanc is a strikingly sultry lady who lights up the screen, thanks in large part to the film's costume designer, but I find Ivana Novak even easier on these eyes of mine. The atmosphere of the movie is quite dramatic, with the story of the curse working in hand in hand with the great and properly gothic look of the mysterious old castle, and the distinctive organ music that is forever playing in the background really helps establish the proper mood for infernal goings-on here. The ending seemed as if it would leave me a little disappointed, but a nice touch at the last minute won me over. All told, this is an excellent example of foreign, campy gothic horror that I for one quite enjoyed.