- Mark of the Devil
Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält Directed by Michael Armstrong Produced by Adrian Hoven Written by based up Michael Armstrong's script Starring Herbert Lom
Music by Michael Holm Cinematography Ernst W. Kalinke Editing by Sigrun Jaeger Release date(s) 1970 Running time 96 min. Country West Germany
Mark of the Devil, or in original German Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält is a German horror film released in 1970. It is most remembered for its marketing: slogans included "Positively the most horrifying film ever made" and "Rated V for Violence", while sick bags were given free to the audience upon admission.
Set in early 18th century, Austria, the story is about a Witchfinder (Herbert Lom) and the young man he trains (Udo Kier), both travel the courtyside terrorizing people suspect of devil worship. When the Witchfinder goes too far by trying to rape a local girl, his trainee rebels.
Mark of the Devil is based upon Michael Armstrong's 1969 script. The original plans were led by producer Adrian Hoven, who intended to produce, direct and star in the film. Hoven's version was a completely different film rumoured to have been called The Witch Hunter - Dr. Dracula. The film was made to cash in on the success of the Michael Reeves's 1968 classic Witchfinder General.
The movie was filmed during the summer of 1970 in Austria. From day one, production was a nightmare. There was at least half a dozen languages spoken on set, causing endless problems for the cast and crew. Producer Adrian Hoven and director Michael Armstrong disliked each other intensely and often argued over the slightest of things. Hoven made sure a small number of the scripts were kept on set and even cut some of Armstrong's footage, so his own ideas could be inserted in the film. Because cinematographer Ernst W. Kalinke was a friend of Hoven's, they would both film scenes without Armstrong's permission. It has been debated how much of Mark of the Devil was filmed by Armstrong and what by Hoven. To give the film some historical accuracy, it was filmed in an Austrian castle where actual witchfinding interrogations took place. This castle also served as a museum with authentic torture tools that were used in the film.
Mark of the Devil was more successful at the box office than Witchfinder General and this success is often attributed to the aforementioned advertising campaign. The film has been criticized by many reviewers for being too violent to contain any message and far too exploitative whilst dealing with a serious historical subject. Other reviews praise the film for its filming locations, consisting of the mountainous Austrian countryside and stately castles.
The film was released theatrically in the United States by Hallmark Releasing in 1972 and has been available since then on VHS in a multitude of releases from different companies, all varying in terms of the violent content, as well aso released on laserdisc by Elite Entertainment. The film was released on DVD by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 1998 and re-released by Blue Underground in 2004, with this release being deemed the most complete version of the film.
Producer Hoven delivered the official sequel, Mark of the Devil Part II (German: Hexen geschändet und zu Tode gequält) in 1973. In addition, several VHS companies sought to exploit the title's notoriety by retitling several unrelated European horror films as sequels (including films from the popular Blind Dead series).
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