Today sees the Blu-ray and DVD release of Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil, a film that was sadly missing from my teen years. The 1970 tale of witch hunts (… and eventually rapes, tortures, and mutilations) in 18th century Austria may be most famous to its US release, accompanied by the tagline, “Positively the most horrifying film ever made,” and a vomit bag as a type of insurance on behalf of theatres. The film would seem to fall somewhere between Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis, but with a pinch of European elegance. The film stars Udo Kier and is not unlike the Morrissey/Warhol horror tales, Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood For Dracula, of which he also starred – endearingly campy, psychedelic, admirably sleazy, musically whimsical, and more than a bit soap operatic. Although far less abstractly profound Häxan or shockingly poignant like the more recent Antichrist, Mark of the Devil is quite the intoxicatingly and playfully Rock’N’Roll take on persecution perfect for punks and hippies alike.
This latest release of Mark of the Devil is courtesy of Arrow Films, via MVD Entertainment Group. In addition to this under-seen cult classic, Arrow Films and MVD will continue with a trilogy of midnight movie Blu-ray and DVD releases over the next few weeks. On March 24th they will release Teru Ishii’s Blind Woman’s Curse (1970) a mash-up of a Yakuza movie, traditional Japanese ghost story, and a medium-gory revenge film; it will likely delight any and all fans of the cinematically subversive. Finally, March 31st will see the release of Italian spaghetti western Day of Anger (1967), by Tonino Valerii and starring Lee Van Cleef. And while Cleef is most famously noted for his work in Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, for those slightly less willing to invest in the genre (and the 177 minutes of “Good,” “Bad,” and “Ugly”), this work, still one of the best of the genre, will suck you in and let you out within under 100 minutes.