Written by: George Pacheco on November 7th, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1972
Director: Giorgio Ferroni
Writer: Eduardo Brochero, Romano Migliorini, Gianbattista Musseto (based on a story by Aleksei Tolstoy)
Cast: Gianni Garko, Agostina Belli,Roberto Maldera
BluRay Released: October 30th, 2012
Approximate running time: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Italian
Subtitles: English, German
BluRay Release: Raro USA
Region Encoding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.98
Giorgio Ferroni’s 1972 film Night of the Devils serves as a snapshot of the shifting styles and themes of Italian genre cinema in the early 1970s, a time where the gothic horror tales of maestro Mario Bava, Antonio Margheriti and Mario Caiano were beginning to meld with the rising tide of slick giallo cinema and more extreme horror grotesquery of Lucio Fulci.
Ferroni had previously offered up his own take on the gothic horror genre twelve years earlier with the relatively obscure Mill of the Stone Women before taking up the spaghetti western and peplum mantle for most of the 1960s.
As such, Night of the Devils signified a return of sorts for the director; a restrained and atmospheric tale inspired by the same Tolstoy short story (“The Wurdulak”) which influenced Mario Bava’s legendary 1963 film Black Sabbath.
In Night of the Devils, genre veteran Gianni Garko plays Nicola, a lumber contractor whose car breaks down in a remote wooded area. Garko’s character seeks shelter with a secluded, fiercely private family with a mysterious secret: they are victims of witch’s curse, and live in constant fear of being turned to the vampyric living dead. As Garko reveals the details of his ordeal via flashback from a psychiatric hospital bed, the audience is treated almost immediately to the impressive special effects of the legendary Carlo Rambaldi, whose resume consists of a dizzying array of classics, from Dario Argento’s Deep Red and Andy Warhol’s Blood For Dracula to work on Alien, Possession and E.T..
Unfortunately, while the film is bookended by some superbly creepy, sexy and stylish set pieces, Night of the Devils struggles to maintain a sufficient energy level. Ferroni’s goal here seems to be restraint; showing only what is necessary, while creating suspense over what horrors may be hiding in the shadows. At first, the director is successful in this endeavor, the atmosphere running thick and palpable. Yet it isn’t long before Devils begins to run out of steam during its second act, with only the film’s bloodsoaked and manic finale serving as a proper saving grace.
Night of the Devils arrives as a 50 GB, dual layer Blu-Ray. The film is present in 1080p progressive scan anamorphic widescreen, preserving the film’s original aspect ratio. The transfer is superb and practically devoid of any print damage. In other words, this is by far the finest Night of the Devils will ever look.
The DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio is clear throughout, particularly when it comes to composer Giorgio Gaslini’s somber, jazzy score. Extras for this release include a video introduction from Fangoria editor Chris Alexander, together with a thirty minute chat and performance from the aforementioned Gaslini. It’s here with Gaslini and genre fans might stand divided. While it’s fantastic to hear Gaslini speak of his career as a jazz musician and film composer, the editing of his interaction with the (often rude) interviewer leaves a little to be desired, coming across as a bit rushed. Regardless, Night of the Devils receives a superb treatment from the ever-reliable Raro Video.
Note: This film is also being released by Raro on DVD at a MSR of $19.98