How frightening. I’m actually old enough to remember seeing ads for Mark of the Devil in newspapers as a kid and while far too young to see it, wanting to just because of the free vomit bag handed out to viewers. I recall either a cousin or other relative seeing it and showing off their unused bag while they bragged about how violent the film was. Hey, it was after all “RATED V FOR VIOLENCE”… just not by the MPAA. That snazzy bit of marketing was courtesy Hallmark Releasing, the films distributor that packed houses for years during the 70’s and 80’s by retitling all sorts of sleazy to amazing genre movies.
Flash forward maybe a dozen or so years and I finally got to see the movie thanks to a fairly lousy quality VHS tape copy that had a few other horror flicks on it (one of which was Twitch of the Death Nerve, another Hallmark released flick). I certainly didn’t need a vomit bag, but the film’s overall tone and torture scenes did get under my skin (pun intended). Over time, I’d almost forgotten about the film thanks to only seeing it that one time, but thanks to Arrow Video and MVD, here I am back in front of a television with a superior in every way possible Blu-Ray version.
While not as relentlessly gory as more modern horror films, Michael Armstrong’s classic and controversial film is more of a “you are there” trip back in time than a traditional fright flick. Shot in and around Austria, the film’s lush outdoor landscapes are contrasted by the brutal torture segments that won’t have you tossing your cookies at all, but maybe reaching for a pillow to hide behind or stuff in your ears as you avert your eyes from some onscreen nastiness.