Devils of Darkness (1965)

Although it’s filed under “Blood in Black & White” on the third Drive-in Delirium set, Devils of Darkness is in fact in full glorious Eastmancolor (the trailer is monochrome for no reason that I can discern). British production from a short-lived company called Planet, who obviously took some cues from Hammer when it came to subject matter—to the point where I think some people seem to have thought it actually was a Hammer film or something—but beat them to the punch by several years by setting their gothic tale in the 1960s rather than the 19th century… Count Sinistre AD 1964? Anyway, we’re dealing with a devil cult presided over by a vampire, which sounds like the writer (one Lyn Fairhurst) hedging her bets, with a bit of voodoo thrown in too… someone wanted to have their cake (of light?) and eat it. The whole thing is directed by one Lance Comfort—no, I can’t believe that was his real name either—whose last film this was after about 40 other B pictures, and this is pretty B stuff as well… although the decision to shoot at Pinewood was a good one cos it meant Comfort could reuse a lot of stuff from other productions (not unlike Roger Corman) that studio kept in storage to give his own film an appearance of costing more than it did. Alas that the budget didn’t extend to more charismatic leading men, neither Hubert Noel as the vampire cult leader nor William Sylvester as the writer who finds himself opposed to him being really up to the task; the most interesting character is actually the count’s vampire bride who finds herself spurned in favour of a new mate and who sets out to sabotage Sinistre’s proceedings. It’s problematic in various other ways, but there is some quite nice stuff in there (particularly the bleeding painting) and it was a generally painless way to pass a Sunday afternoon…

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