With Arrow’s first North American release comes ‘Mark of the Devil,’ a particularly brutal film for its day in the “witch-sploitation” subgenre, was made in Germany around the time of Hammer films; a time when production mattered as far as lavish costumes and sets. Based on certain true accounts from the 1600s, ‘Mark of the Devil’ depicts religion as the highest authority. Every atrocity committed was in the name of God and many innocent people were tortured and burned at the stake. The system was easily corrupted and perverted; twisted to suit whoever was in charge. For instance, Albino (Reggie Nalder), is the Witchfinder of the village and the unquestionable law. One night, he tries to rape Vanessa (Olivera Katarina), who fights him off successfully. He then accuses her of being a witch, and tells his Advocate (Johannes Buzalski) to write up a false report indicating as such. That’s all it took, some dude with power didn’t get laid by whom he wanted and…witch.
What’s even more terrible is that the people doing the torturing and executions seemed to enjoy it. A job is a job, I know, but during the torture scenes, the sick joy these characters got out of inflicting harm upon innocent people is appalling because, these kind of people existed/exist. Based on that fact, this could almost be viewed as an S and M film with the whipping, beating, and the stretching all done to excise some imaginary demon from the supposed witch.
Although the film boasted a great cast of Udo Kier and Herbert Lom, the standout actor was Reggie Nalder. His character, the Witcfinder, Albino, embodied everything that was corrupt about the time of witch hunts. His twisted, scarred face lends disgust to his already despicable character.
It’s times like these that I relish being a reviewer of Arrow films. Not only are their discs just amazing, but for all the cult/horror films I have seen, there are probably twice as many I have yet to see. I can finally cross ‘Mark of the Devil’ off of my list.
Once proclaimed as “positively the most horrifying film ever made”, Mark of the Devil arrives in a director-approved edition featuring a new restoration of the feature. A bloody and brutal critique of religious corruption, Mark of the Devil sees horror icon Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein, Suspiria) play a witchfinder’s apprentice whose faith in his master (Herbert Lom) becomes severely tested when they settle in an Austrian village. Presided over by the sadistic Albino (a memorably nasty turn from Reggie Nalder), the film presents its morality not so much in shades of grey as shades of black. Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, who would later pen Eskimo Nell, The Black Panther and House of the Long Shadows, this classic shocker has lost none of its power over the years.
As with most Arrow releases, there is no shortage of extras:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements
- Optional English and German audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Newly translated English subtitles for the German audio
- Audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell
- Mark of the Times – exclusive feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies
- Hallmark of the Devil – author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas
- Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schoner and Herbert Lom
- Mark of the Devil: Now and Then – a look at the film’s locations and how they appear today
- Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork
Available for PRE-ORDER HERE. Release Date is March 17th 2015