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Case Number 07359

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Fright Pack: The Devil Made Me Do It

Curse Of The Devil
1973 // 84 Minutes // Unrated
The Antichrist
1974 // 112 Minutes // Unrated
To The Devil A Daughter
1976 // 93 Minutes // Unrated
Fear No Evil
1980 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Hell Night
1981 // 102 Minutes // Rated R
The Church
1988 // 102 Minutes // Unrated
Released by Anchor Bay
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // August 9th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum expected to open up a six-pack of whup-ass, but instead found six Anchor Bay horror features. (You're still gonna get your whup-ass, though, boy howdy.)

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Church (published April 12th, 2002), Curse Of The Devil (published October 18th, 2002), Fear No Evil (published September 6th, 2003), and Hell Night (published November 2nd, 2001) are also available.

The Charge

Six movies, six discs, and six reasons to give the devil his due!

Opening Statement

Fright Pack 1: The Devil Made Me Do It is a slick idea in packaging that had me rolling on the floor and pumping my hands with the devil horn salute. Anchor Bay has taken six horror films and put them into a case made to look like a six-pack of beer, right down to a spoof of the Budweiser motto ("serving premium horror since 1989"), and even a "died on" date on the bottom of the box. Anchor Bay has been known for its excellent work with movies that deal with the macabre for years, and they are offering a series of these "Fright Packs" to allow collectors the chance to catch up by getting six films for the price of three in a very cool box. You gotta love them for their originality, even if the movies featured in this collection are a mixed bag of campy flicks, classic genre rip-offs, and foreign titles. This set is the inaugural collection, named "The Devil Made Me Do It" because the bulk of the films deal with some satanic angle in one form or another.

Facts of the Case

• The Antichrist (1974, Italy)
In the God-fearing city of Rome a beautiful young woman (Carla Gravina) is paralyzed by a horrific childhood car accident. After she is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition, visions of her past life as a heretic ex-nun turned witch lead her to become a foul-mouthed seductress with a taste for the sacrilegious, climaxing in a date with the devil himself. Now the only thing that can save mankind from her demon seed—destined to become the Antichrist—is an exorcism. In other words, it's an Italian rip-off of The Exorcist.

• Hell Night (1981, United States)
Linda Blair (The Exorcist) stars as one of a group of fraternity and sorority pledges who must spend the night in a house where a horrible murder occurred twelve years ago. Legend has it one of the survivors of a family massacre in the creepy Garth mansion is alive, and has become a horrible psychotic monster haunting its halls. Can the plucky teens survive until dawn, and trade in their pledge pins for active badges? This inspired slasher knock-off is from producer Irwin Yablans, who also produced the seminal film of the "cut up the kids" genre—Halloween.

• To the Devil A Daughter (1976, England)
Nastassja Kinski (Cat People) and Christopher Lee (Hammer veteran; appeared in every 2005 summer blockbuster) star in this, the final horror entry from the famed (and now defunct) Hammer Horror Studios. A heretic priest (Lee) plans to use a teenage nun (Kinski) in a depraved ceremony meant to mate her with ultimate darkness. It's all up to an American occult novelist (Richard Widmark) to stop the devil from consummating with his child bride. Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore in Goldfinger) and Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark) also appear in this film, which recalls Rosemary's Baby.

• The Church (1988, Italy)
An elaborate cathedral is built on the site of medieval devil worshipers' grounds, and when a sealed crypt is opened, a group of people trapped inside the church become possessed. Can these innocents be saved from this unholy communion, or will the ultimate evil be unleashed on the world? Dario Argento (Suspiria) co-wrote and produced this elaborate film, which cemented the reputation of director Michele Soavi (Stagefright) as a master of Italian horror. Originally, this film was entitled Demons 3.

• Fear No Evil (1980, United States)
Andrew Williams (Stefan Arngrim, Land of the Dead) is your average shy high school nerd, but he has a horrifying secret. He's really the Antichrist, and in his senior year he's ready to unleash hell upon his classmates in gym class and the world. A pair of unlikely archangels and an army of the dead assemble on the eve of the Second Coming to do battle for the fate of mankind. It's basically The Omen with a rocking punk soundtrack, including tracks from The Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Talking Heads, and The Ramones.

• Curse of the Devil (1973, Spain)
Waldemar Daninsky (Spanish horror star Paul Naschy) is a nobleman who is taking on devil worshipers in the countryside. A satanic coven takes offense at some of his arrogant acts against them, and decide to send homicidal maniacs and lusty maidens to inflict their wrath against one of his descendants. Waldemar is cursed to become a murderous beast, a werewolf. Can the love of a blonde villager save him?

The Evidence

Each of these films have been reviewed quite well by DVD Verdict before (save for The Antichrist), so if you look in the links section, you can go head to each one individually for good in-depth insights into each disc. Call me lazy, but I doubt I could give you much in the way of new insights into the discs themselves, other than talking about each title briefly and giving you my impressions. Hey man, what did you expect? We're talking six whole movies here that could provide a veritable dissertation on horror films. I snuggled up with six movies over six nights, and came up with the following six impressions:

• Night One—The Antichrist

Deliver her from evil.
This Italian tale of possession stars the striking Italian actress Carla Gravina in a well-designed and acted movie that cribs its climax from The Exorcist. Originally released in the United States in the mid '70s under the title The Tempter, it was severely cut during a crucial sex scene. The DVD restores the most striking sequences, which feature Carla Gravina playing her present day character seeing herself as the ancestor who mated with Satan during a disturbing ritual, which includes a communion of toad heads, cunnilingus on an actual goat, and sex with a man in a goat mask. It is wildly original, and becomes the most memorable scene in the film. Too bad that after it the movie becomes almost a carbon copy of the William Friedkin classic, right down to green vomit, levitating bodies, and flying household objects. Many horror fans will find the build up a little too talky and drawn out, but The Antichrist is a good example of Italian horror, complete with extravagant production design and lush cinematography. Despite its derivative ending, it does have enough interesting moments to justify a look.

Anchor Bay provides a solid anamorphic widescreen transfer which preserves the bleeding reds and blues purposefully created by the director. The sound mix is a bummer since it is mono, and we are provided with an incredibly stilted dub instead of the more natural Italian audio track. Extras include interviews with the film's composer, Ennio Morricone, and director Alberto Martino, in Italian with English subtitles. Explain to me why the extras have subtitles, but the movie proper offers no such option. The interviews are interesting, and they explain a lot about The Antichrist and how it was made and conceived. All in all it's a nice package that should please fans of spaghetti shockers who prefer the Italian way of striking visuals and intense sexual scenes.

• Night Two—The Church

You haven't got a prayer.
Dario Argento, the master of Italian horror, helped write and produce this 1988 entry, directed by acclaimed shock master Michele Soavi. The Church is a movie that was originally intended to be the third entry in the popular Demons series. It chronicles a group of unlucky people trapped in a cathedral where a battle for their very souls ensues, thanks to the fact the church was constructed on a site where an entire village of pagans were massacred. It has a highly visceral quality, and often ignores its own narrative for the sake of delivering visual shocks. Michele Soavi claims he was seeking a way to marry poetry and film. While the goal is admirable, too much of the film's logic is sacrificed for impressive sights and sounds. The end result is a somewhat messy affair, but one that can be enjoyed as innovative in developing a unique visual language. With the recent rise in popularity of Japanese horror titles like Ringu and Ju-On, it's nice to see the Italians were ahead of the game in creating strong images. We also get a look at a very young Asia Argento (Dario's daughter, and star of Land of the Dead). Also in the cast is Tomas Arana, whom many will recognize from Gladiator. And yet again we have a movie where the Devil gets lucky with a nubile young Italian actress on a sacrificial slab while appearing as a man in a goat mask. I'm sensing a theme developing here.

Anchor Bay delivers an okay widescreen anamorphic transfer for the film, as well as options to hear it in a full 5.1 EX extravaganza or simple stereo mix. The music and sound effects are impressive; however, again we get to hear a troubling English dub, which lessens some of the scariness and weakens the performances to a degree. The only extra is a text biography of director Michele Soavi, and a trailer. The Church will appeal to collectors of Italian horror, and Argento fans will easily see his hand at work in the film. The DVD presents the entire film without edits or censored bits, so it's a nice treat for horror buffs. I just wish they had amped up the extras a little, and provided a nice alternate audio track with the Italian intact.

• Night Three—Curse of the Devil

Damn the Exorcist. The Devil won't let go!
If I had to pick the runt of this litter…it would easily be the sole Spanish entry, Curse of the Devil. It's a real dog! It figures as a chapter in a series of werewolf films starring Paul Naschy, who made a career playing the extra hairy Waldemar Daninsky. The movie comes from 1973, but the "not so" special effects offer transformations that make the original Universal Wolfman entries look cutting edge. It starts off uniquely enough, with a coven of witches proclaiming their lust for vengeance against a Polish nobleman. We get to see the female servants servicing Satan, who appears in this story as a man wearing black Spandex from head to toe. Oddly enough, Lucifer doesn't remove his shiny black wardrobe, even when he gets busy with one of his worshipers. Soon the witches send a buxom beauty to seduce one of Daninsky's ancestors. After making love, she nicks his chest with a wolf skull and flees into the night. Now the nobleman finds himself turning into a monster once a month, and the movie dissolves into a second-rate tale that copies any Larry Talbot story note for note.

Surprisingly, the extras are more entertaining than the film itself. We get a very fun interview with Paul Naschy, as well as a hysterical gallery of posters from his many films. His story about how he became a horror icon is an amusing one, and the clips from other films in the series are priceless. The transfer of the film proper is problematic; a goopy sepia tint seems to have marred this movie forever. Again, Anchor Bay only offers the English dub rather than the original Spanish track. Do they really think horror fans are so illiterate they won't read subtitles? Yeesh! Odd that all the extras are in Spanish, so why not include the extra audio?

• Night Four—Fear No Evil

Giving the Devil his due
High school always felt like Armageddon, so is it any surprise that Frank LaLoggia decided to make his directorial debut with a film that placed the son of the Devil in the class of 1980 in Rochester, New York? Fear No Evil was an elaborate horror fantasy released at the height of the slasher craze. It is ambitious and quite interesting, but often feels limited by its million dollar budget, which could only provide cheap theatrics for the climax. It reminds me of Phantasm, in that it feels independent and wholly original. It feels unique in that it came out when everyone was cranking out simple slasher fare, but shows us teens from a different perspective altogether. There's a very disturbing homoerotic scene with several boys in a gym shower that seems to invert the genders of the infamous scene that opened Carrie. The scenes in high school ring the truest. It's only when the movie has to hit its apocalyptic climax that it falters. For all its impressive goals, the movie does seem amateurish in spots near the end, despite a game cast and some inventive staging. The climax seems hokey. The son of the Devil looks too glam rock to be truly scary—but who said the Dark Prince ever had any fashion sense? At least Satan once again gets it on with some babes, or at least his spawn does. It's a strange mix of styles, culled from Italian horror and Hammer productions with a uniquely American twist. You have to give them points for going for broke with an unconventional twist on a tale that was also taken on—with a much bigger budget—by the Omen series.

Again we have a mostly solid anamorphic widescreen transfer with a few rough spots here and there—some grain and problematic black levels. Thank the Dark Lord the film was recorded in English so I can be spared from yet another devilish dub. And watch out for a bevy of New Wave and punk hits that are almost as much fun as Satan in his Saved by the Bell years. There's a great option to either hear the film in full surround or stereo surround. Anchor Bay loaded this one with enough extras to make the baby of Satan smile. We have a very informative commentary from writer, director, producer, composer, and (obviously) man with control issues—Frank LaLoggia. He's joined by cinematographer Fred Goodich. There is also a nice look behind the scenes, as well as all the trailers. Also included is a DVD-ROM script. Anchor Bay loaded this one to the hilt with extras and goodies that should have horror fans reeling with frightened joy.

• Night Five—To The Devil A Daughter

Behold the Spawn of Satan…
Alright everybody…stop! It's Hammer time. What horror collection could be complete without Christopher Lee helming a Hammer Horror film, especially one where the Devil is hoping to get lucky with Nastassja Kinski? To The Devil A Daughter is the closest thing to a classic horror film in this package. It's well done, and represents Hammer's swan song as a horror studio. It's an adult, sophisticated tale of Satanists trying to produce a human form of evil. The biggest problem with the film came from a rather anticlimactic ending, where Richard Widmark and Christopher Lee face off inside a circle of blood. The ending was retooled after some suggested Lee's demise was too much of the same we had seen during his classic turn in Scars of Dracula. Pity, because To the Devil A Daughter is inspired and well done until that point. Still, despite the less than stirring finale, the rest of the movie displays a wonderful style and direction that could have saved Hammer Horror had they started down this path a decade earlier. Lee and Widmark make perfect foes for each other: Lee with his campy over the top theatrics, and Widmark with a cool minimalist reserve. Nastassja Kinski is in fine form as the innocent girl they fight over, but I detect many of her lines may be dubbed since the voice seems to be a little too high pitched. Honor Blackman turns in a fun performance as Widmark's literary agent; it's great to see her chewing the scenery in a horror flick. To The Devil A Daughter takes its subject seriously, and this is no cheesy schlock job. It's a classy affair, and represents a fine entry as the studio's last "boo!" for the world.

The DVD includes a luminous anamorphic widescreen transfer that preserves the psychedelic color choices nicely. Also of note is that Anchor Bay presents To The Devil A Daughter completely uncut and unedited. Full frontal nudity was a staple of Hammer, especially in their final years, but American censors often took the racy scenes out. They are intact here. The mono soundtrack is no great shakes, but it is free of distortions. Extras include a very insightful look at the production with all the major players ruminating on their time with Hammer. Christopher Lee is a joy to watch, because he holds nothing back about what he thought of the film and his co-stars. It's a good DVD, and a "must own" for fans of Hammer Horror Studios.

• Night Six—Hell Night

Pray for Day
Hell Night is the only slasher flick in the collection, which makes it the odd man out in this unholy six-pack. It stars Linda Blair (The Exorcist), and takes on the infamous idea of "Hell Night," which most fraternities still practice. I remember mine quite well as a pledge of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, and I can tell you it was scarier than this film—which isn't saying much. I'm a little confused, because apparently Alpha Sigma Rho in the movie is co-ed fraternity which has only one requirement of its pledges—spend the night in a spooky house. Never mind learning the history of the organization or its values; just be good looking and wait it out until dawn inside a creepy mansion where something horrible happened. Hell Night is really just an excuse to get four attractive teens into a formulaic mess where they have to run for their lives from a homicidal maniac. It's hardly original, but I thought the casting of Linda Blair was an inspired choice that makes the movie marginally better than the bumper crop of these movies I sat through in the '80s. My only beef with the film is that I'm not sure why it's here. After sitting through five films of Satanic rites and devilish curses, I'm not sure where a demonic slasher fits in. We don't get to see any fraternity initiation rites—which would have been more "satanic" in nature, since most are based on Masonic principles and have more than their fair share of pagan imagery. As it is, Hell Night seems like a wine cooler placed in a six pack of beer. I'm not sure what it has to do with our satanic theme, but since six college kids bite it at the hands of a demonic-looking maniac I'll give it a pass. And it does have "Hell" in the title.

Even without the Devil, or any scenes of him getting it on with hot babes, the extras on the DVD are a lot of fun. We get a group commentary with Blair, the director, and both producers, which is full of good-natured ribbing and recollections. Also included are the theatrical trailers and TV spots, which are also quite giggly. Video is a nice anamorphic widescreen transfer with only a few murky scenes here and there. Audio is a stilted mono track that does little for the atmosphere. Still, Anchor Bay provides another good package for a movie that would find little love from other DVD producers.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

As cool as the packaging is, it is somewhat problematic, since the left side of the box is open and all six discs are often in danger of spilling out. Also you can't read the spines, so pulling out a disc means you could end up with any of the six titles. It's not terribly practical even though it is worth a giggle. And let's face it, these are "dust-gatherers" at this point—movies doomed to languish on or near the bargain bin hoping to be sold. It doesn't take a Biblical prophecy to figure out this is not a classic set of satanic fright flicks. They all have their moments, but most of them are obscure titles. You'd be hard pressed to find a fan of horror that has these six movies listed in their top ten of the genre.

Closing Statement

I must have been on the right track with my reviews of this Satanic six pack, since lightning struck and I lost my first draft. Anchor Bay has provided us with a devilish set of horror films in a cool sly package at a tempting price. It's six movies for what you would have paid for three. How could any fan of Hellish cinema say no? The real temptation is that all of the films are competent in some way, shape, form, or fashion. You have the gorgeous imagery of two entries from the Italian horror genre, a straightforward monster film from Spain, Hell hitting a high school, a kinky Hammer entry with Christopher Lee, and a slasher flick starring Linda Blair. In this day and age of politically correct PG-13 yawners posing as fright flicks, it's nice to see six entries from Anchor Bay, who provide unedited uncensored cuts of films that aren't afraid to show a little skin and a lot of bloody innards. All of these films are a cut above what's been unleashed lately, and even though they aren't classics, they are reminders of what makes the horror genre so much fun. Anchor Bay shows us exactly why they've gotten a well-deserved reputation among purveyors of suspense movies. Nice transfers and plenty of extras make most of these films well worth a look. They've been given loving care, and you won't find many special editions like these six on other labels. Anchor Bay is a company committed to horror fans, and to giving the Devil his due. I wouldn't be surprised to see pentacles on all their business cards, or at their corporate headquarters…

The Verdict

Guilty of everything, but mostly of showing Lucifer getting lucky with babes from around the world. Funny the collection is titled "The Devil Made Me Do It," when a more apt subtitle could have been "The Devil Did It To Me." And guess what? I kinda liked it. Frighteningly good fun for all. I love this six-pack, since you can drink it all in again and again. If you're a fan of horror seek these "Fright Packs" out. Fright Pack 1: The Devil Made Me Do It is a set I am proud to recommend to anyone who just can't have too many nightmares on their screens.

And remember…please view responsibly.

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Genre

• Horror

Scales of Justice, Curse Of The Devil

Video: 60
Audio: 60
Extras: 75
Acting: 60
Story: 50
Judgment: 61

Perp Profile, Curse Of The Devil

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Unrated

Distinguishing Marks, Curse Of The Devil

• Featurette: Interview with the Werewolf
• Theatrical Trailer
• Paul Naschy Poster Gallery
• Paul Naschy Bio

Scales of Justice, The Antichrist

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 85
Acting: 85
Story: 65
Judgment: 81

Perp Profile, The Antichrist

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 112 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Unrated

Distinguishing Marks, The Antichrist

• Featurette: Raising Hell
• TV Spot
• Poster Gallery
• Still Gallery

Scales of Justice, To The Devil A Daughter

Video: 90
Audio: 85
Extras: 90
Acting: 85
Story: 83
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile, To The Devil A Daughter

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.66:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Unrated

Distinguishing Marks, To The Devil A Daughter

• Featurette: To the Devil... The Death of Hammer
• Theatrical Trailer
• Poster Gallery
• Still Gallery
• Talent Bios

Scales of Justice, Fear No Evil

Video: 88
Audio: 90
Extras: 95
Acting: 82
Story: 82
Judgment: 87

Perp Profile, Fear No Evil

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Fear No Evil

• Audio Commentary with Director Frank Laloggia and Director of Photography Frederic Goodich
• Behind-The-Scenes Footage
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spots
• Poster Gallery
• Still Gallery
• DVD-ROM: Original Screenplay

Scales of Justice, Hell Night

Video: 91
Audio: 72
Extras: 82
Acting: 68
Story: 60
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile, Hell Night

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Hell Night

• Commentary with Actress Linda Blair, Director Tom DeSimone, Producer Irwin Yablans, and Producer Bruce Cohn Curtis

Scales of Justice, The Church

Video: 80
Audio: 90
Extras: 40
Acting: 75
Story: 75
Judgment: 72

Perp Profile, The Church

Studio: Anchor Bay
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 102 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Unrated

Distinguishing Marks, The Church

• Theatrical Trailer
• Michele Soavi Bio








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