Mark Of The Devil: Yack Pack (DVD And Vomit Bag)
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Udo Kier is a witch hunter apprentice to Herbert Lom. He believes strongly in his mentor and in the ways of the church but loses faith when he catches Lom strangle a man to death. The witch trials are nothing but a scam of the church to seduce women, rob people of their land and money. In the end, the townspeople revolt, Herbert Lom escapes and poor Udo is tortured to death by the townspeople.
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I need to inform you that this not the "most horrifying film ever made". It is mildly sadistic and a little gory by today's standards but this film runs its entire course without any intentional humor or stupidity that is so common in today's horror movies. As Albino says "I may not be educated but I am not stupid": I want movies that at least try to take themselves seriously. This movie does that.
For a 35 year old horror film from Europe this film has had some staying power. I recommend this one to fans of horror of all ages. It is certainly something different from the hackneyed plots that the genre is so susceptible to. If you've seen the movie before get this DVD too you will be pleased with the digital quality and the copious extras... Enjoy the torture...
People were superstitious at the time, and doing these awful things to people, and calling it "The Lord's Work," really did happen. The mere accusation of Sorcery was enough to get an indictment, and corruption of the Church has always been there; if you're accused, you have lost the battle.
Revulsion is the real star of this film, and watching these people doing these ghastly things to people, all in a days work, with God on their side, makes it excruciating to watch. One case in particular, has this LOVELY young woman on trial for consorting with the Devil; the truth? She was living with some nuns, and the Bishop raped her. The baby was seen as Satan's spawn, and the politics of the church wouldn't allow the truth to come out. She goes so far as to give a false confession, one she thought they wanted, and from there, it only got worse for her. Watching her ordeal made me physically uncomfortable; I had to keep reminding myself that she was just an actress, and this was a only film stage. But they really did this to people; that's what is so horrifying. THEY ACTUALLY DID THIS TO PEOPLE! WITH CHURCH APPROVAL! ("...doing the Lord's work is never easy...")
This is an exploitation film, but one with a story-line, albeit a tragic one, and thank God the witch trials don't happen now.
In a small village of a by-gone era, witch-hunting has reached its peak. Villagers accused of sins such as "having illicit intercourse with the devil" or "defiling the sacraments of the church" are submitted to public displays of torture and execution. Into the village arrives the character played by Udo Kier, who is a witch-hunter apprentice. As he begins to learn the tools and tricks of the trade, Kier comes to the realization that the witch trials are actually a scam to rob people of their wealth and their land and also as an excuse to lay paws on beautiful women. Kier attempts to organize a revolt against the crooked witch-hunters which in turn will lead to him getting his own taste of a little torture...
To my surprise, "Mark of the Devil" is not as pointless a film as I expected it to be. I really figured this would be mindless exploitation consisting of nothing more than torture, however the torture scenes are not at the forefront of everything here. This movie actually has a carefully constructed plot, as well as beautiful scenic shots of the Austrian countryside and a heartfelt romance story between the lead female and Udo Kier. The costumes are stunning and the acting is not all that bad. What is REALLY bad however is the dubbing which goes from awful to absolute ridiculous. I'm referring especially to the scene involving two small children trapped in a cage, their voices sound like they're coming from adults!
As for gore, yes the film displays all sorts of atrocities such as women being burned alive, guys getting their limbs and fingers chopped off with meat cleavers and other things I know I would not be allowed to list here. What makes these scenes shocking (and rather goofy in retrospect) are the matter-of-fact ways in which the torturers carry on their deeds, all the while as honky-looking villagers look on and cheer. I have trouble imagining, in any era, middle-aged women and grandmothers gleefully pointing and laughing as people get decapitated right in front of their eyes but that's what we get in this movie. Sure it drags after a while but "Mark of the Devil" is not such a bad movie and people who dig these types of flicks are bound to enjoy. Barf bags are encouraged but not mandatory.
I purchased a DVD from Cheezy Flicks ("Andy Warhol's Bad"), and I feel that I must warn anyone thinking of buying THIS edition of MotD:
I have no idea how Cheezy Flix is allowed to be in business. The DVD I bought (a mistake you only make ONCE) was nothing more than a rip of the only authentic source for that movie; the VHS tape. I already own the VHS. I could have transferred it to DVD (naturally, I have a DVD recorder) myself. The cover was terrible, the sound was awful, and the company? Well...they ripped me off. Now, I'm sure they're going to use that common refrain of bootleggers all over: "It's in the public domain." REALLY? "Andy Warhol's Bad," starring Carroll Baker, Susan Tyrell, and Perry King (along with a fantastic cameo by Warhol favorite Brigid Berlin) directed by Warhol protege Jed Johnson is in the 'public domain"? I bet that would be of interest to the filmmakers and the REAL copyright holders. And anyway...Let's assume that that is true. Why, then, is it directly transferred from the out-of-print Embassy VHS?
All I'm saying is: I will NEVER buy another release from Cheezy Flicks (or CHEEZY, or whatever they're calling themselves now), and I have no idea why Amazon doesn't feel the need to protect its costumers from bootleggers.
Buy at your own risk.