Devil's Nightmare (Belgian-Italian, 1971, dir: Jean Brisme‚ cast: Erika Blanc, Jean Servais, Daniel Emilfork, Jacques Monseau, Ivana
Novak, Luciene Raimberg; aka La Plus Longue Nuit Du Diable, The Longest
Night Of The Devil, Vampire Playgirls, Succubus, The Devil Walks At Midnight,
critics made much of Seven (1995,
for its "innovative" twist on the serial killer oeuvre: A killer who took
inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins.
to big Hollywood studios. Innovative to ignorant mainstream critics. But for those who follow indie, low-budget, and foreign horror ... been
there, done that.
it was The
Devil's Nightmare that did it. Not with a serial killer, but
with a succubus (Italian actress Erika Blanc). No reason succubi
can't take inspiration from the Seven Deadly Sins while committing slaughter.
Devil's Nightmare is its most common US title, The
Walks at Midnight its most recent), a family of German aristocrats
endures a centuries-old curse. Seems the first-born daughter in every
generation becomes a succubus for Satan. She seems not to particularly
target family members, so there's no reason this should be a big problem,
but the family has long done the right thing by killing first-born daughters
at birth. But it's 1945, and the Allies are bombing Germany, and
confusion reigns. The Baron (Jean Servais), an officer in Hitler's
army, kills the wrong daughter.
to 1971, and the prodigal first-born daughter returns to the family castle.
would have it, that very night a busload of tourists is stranded at the
castle. And coincidentally, each tourist is guilty of one of the
Seven Deadly Sins. After slinking about in revealing dresses, the
succubus begins killing the tourists, one by one. The women too. That's rare for succubi, as most only target men. And she's got help. When she is stymied by Father Sorel (guilty of pride, and played by Luciene
Raimberg), Satan (Daniel Emilfork) steps in to help her out.
films are largely and properly judged by the quality of their succubi. Even more so than vampires, succubi are erotic monsters. Female demons
who sexually tempt men to death and/or damnation. Why do they do
so? Usually, the only explanation is that they're demons, and that's
what demons do.
sexual monsters, succubi should be alluring. Erika Blanc (left) is that
and more. She is a mesmerizing demoness, with extreme angular features,
a fleshy but curvaceous body, and clear bright eyes framed by a flaming
red mane. Few modern succubi can compare.
succubi (and "femme fatales") tend to be short, scrawny, and disproportionately
top-heavy with chicken legs. Perhaps most of today's low-budget producers
"breast men" attracted to anorexic starlets. Blanc is a classy succubus,
well-proportioned, the kind that best tempts European (and, I think, most)
her succubus is more pedestrian. Most succubi are heartless monsters,
without feeling for their victims. Vampires often have more compassion,
or at least passion. Ironically, succubi are often indifferent to
sex, merely using it mechanically as a bait and/or method of execution,
killing during copulation. But Blanc doesn't even touch her victims,
gleefully watching them die from afar. She is an especially cold-blooded
succubus, her sole loyalty to Satan.
kill to survive, but Blanc kills to win souls for Satan. She kills
sinners during their transgressions, ensuring that they'll be damned for
eternity. This yields some curious theological results. One
young lady is killed asleep in bed, presumably guilty of sloth.
in the middle of the night -- Oh wicked woman!
sloth is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I dunno, maybe it was
early evening. Just make sure there are no succubi around if you
go to bed early.
merely reflect a surface beauty, skin deep. At some point, their
natural ugliness is revealed. In the "Demon In Lace" episode of Kolchak:
The Night Stalker, the succubus's true appearance was that of a crone. Whenever Blanc kills, her true form manifests: her eyebrows shaved, her
face shiny and bluish, her thin red lips in a tight sadistic smile.
succubus is Karen Morgan (played by Diane DiLascio in the "Black Widow"
episode of Poltergeist:
The Legacy; right). DiLascio portrayed a rarity: a succubus-with-a-heart-of-gold. Her succubus had feelings. Feelings that could be hurt by a harsh
word. I'd never before seen a succubus played that way.
viewers must have agreed, because DiLascio's succubus returned for a rare
encore episode: "She Has the Devil in Her."
Blanc would be enough to recommend The
Devil's Nightmare, but the film is enjoyable all-around. The
other actors do a fine job, and the cinematography is lush and colorful.
Everman, in his Cult
Horror Films, says: "This Belgian/Italian spooky-castle film is
really pretty good, not because the plot is particularly original but because
the pacing and atmosphere make it work in spite of its shortcomings." I guess he means the film waits 50 minutes to begin the killings, but he's
right, the pacing works. It allows the atmosphere to build, the succubus
to toy with her victims, and the characters to become established, if only
a bit. (Why do all European actors, when dubbed, sound alike?)
is John Stanley in his Creature Features
Movie Guide: "Campy dialogue and silly premise provide laughs in
this Italian-Belgian flop ... Each generation's eldest daughter is born
an evil witch lusting to kill." I wasn't laughing, and the story
is plainly about a succubus, not a witch.
film spellings appear to confuse everyone. Welch Everman spells the
name of the actor playing Father Sorel as both Luciene Raimberg and Lucien
Raimbourg. He spells the aristocrat family's name as both von Rumberg and von Runberg,
whereas John Stanley spells it von Rhoneberg.
annoying to me: In the dubbed version, the characters keep referring to
"succubuses." The American
Heritage Dictionary (1971) finds this acceptable, but I think "succubi"
is preferable. ("Succubae" is also acceptable to American
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