Berlin, 1945. Bombs rain down as a woman struggles to give birth. A high-ranking Nazi official kills the baby after learning that it’s a girl. Naturally, this segues to seven tourists being led to the castle of a cursed Baron after the road to their original destination is closed. When a beautiful mysterious woman seeks shelter, the guests soon start to disappear one by one. Could she be a tool of the devil? Why is the butler so fascinated by morbidity? When are the sexy girls going to take their clothes off? All in good time, my lovelies.
Duane: Don’t get me wrong, dead babies rock. That Nazi bit and the devil deal with the firstborn blah blah succubus blah blah does tie in somewhere but it’s totally unnecessary (although that baby stab scene is admittedly a highlight). So we have our setup – seven victims each representing one of the seven deadly sins. Most are obvious, like gluttony (how pimp-tight is it to carry sausage links in a suitcase?), but others I had a hard time discerning which was which (who was envy?). This is all secondary of course, because we’re really here for the sleaze and gore, right? The Devil’s Nightmare is kind of light in the latter of those departments, but the film managed to hold my interest quite well thanks to the brisk pace and lush visuals. The castle location is exquisite – it’s too bad its full potential wasn’t utilized. For the most part, our victims wallow about in what looks like cheap hotel rooms waiting for their final curtain call. The characters are almost entirely incidental… I found it more fun to try and guess what the fate for the next sin was going to be over anything else. Erika Blanc is great in this too, they really managed to make her look downright ghastly when she demons up. Well worth the price of admission.
Jocelyn: You and your love of dead babies! This is definitely not the most cohesive plot but in broad strokes it makes perfect sense and is an allegory for the ages with a sleazed up modern twist! The auburn-haired chippy (Ivana Novak; The Beast, The Red Headed Corpse) in on the hot lesbo action was Envy. I really dug this movie – it’s surprisingly well shot and the acting is pretty solid. There were some cute little tricks that I appreciated, an attention to detail that you don’t always get from oddball Italian co-productions; for example the fact that her fingernails were the first thing that was discernibly different when she was transitioning to Succubus. I love the Gluttony scene! It lingers quite a while and as you’re anticipating the kill she pours him a glass of wine and her once white fingernails are suddenly black (as death!), her reflection moving through the wine as she walks away; these are just a few of the yummy little bits that make up for any lack of clarity or poor writing. The kills were pretty decent – for the most part we were treated to a bit of grue and some nice effects. There was enough ‘sexy’ to keep the appetites whet, I was really enjoying a few of those scenes. (but seriously, when Envy and Sloth are going at it, why do they kiss so fucked up and wrong? I can’t maintain a girl-boner watching sloppy, scared-to-taste-the-inside-of-each-others-mouths, barely-there kissing! DUH!) But you are right, Erika Blanc (Kill, Baby, Kill; So Sweet, So Perverse; The Red Headed Corpse) steals the fucking show in this with her uncanny ability to be at times both desirable and absolutely terrifying. I was actually afraid that her eyes were going to pop out of her god damned skull when she was turning that stick into a snake. The sheer force with which she cast her gaze to create pure evil was nothing short of staggering. No one else could have played that role any better. She was perfectly cast and astonishing to watch.
D: The lesbo scene you mentioned I found to be kind of hot because I got the impression that the blonde (Shirley Corrigan; Dr. Jekyll Versus the Werewolf) was totally not into it and the auburn haired one was seemingly taking advantage of her. That always gives me a headache in my pants. There were so many subtle nuances to this as you mentioned that the craftsmanship here really outdoes the paper-thin plot. Daniel Emilfork (Who Stole the Body?, The City of Lost Children) was perfectly greasy in this as The Devil and Erica Blanc really proved to be much more than just some hot chick showing her tits and that added to the overall feeling of quality as well. It’s too bad someone hasn’t picked this up and made a proper release out of it. Both the Redemption release as well as the one from TGG Direct (as a double feature with Messiah of Evil) are both pretty sketchy looking. Criterion, get on this! I envision a Euro-sleaze box set of monumental proportions!
My usual gripe – the kills could have been bloodier but mostly they were fitting the individual and inventive so I’m willing to overlook it in this instance. Also the main ladies in this were all quite fetching and give up the goods, all is well in that department. I’ve now made the personal decision to always be gnawing on a piece of meat whenever I’m driving so as to maximize the travel experience. I’ve already stuffed my pockets with all manner of cured animal fare.
D: Wow. The prospect of a Euro-sleaze box set from Criterion? I just came in my panties a little bit. Fuck, that would be awesome! My copy was a pretty scratched up print from some cheapo box set that I was amazed wasn’t cut to shreds.
Agreed, all of the ladies were easy on the eyes (ok, most: Lisa’s mother was a gimpy old bird and Greed was pretty haggard) but the pacing of this was just about perfect. I had no problem with virtually all of the kill scenes happening one right after another. Wrath was fun too! He was such a cantankerous old coot, I enjoyed just waiting to see what he would bitch about next. The girl/girl scene was hot and I did get a similar impression – there’s something exciting about leading one into a world of unknown/forbidden pleasures. This film is definitely a worthy investment of your time. I’m hard pressed to think of anyone who wouldn’t find something redeeming about it.
D/J: As creepy as it is entertaining – albeit a little on the vapid side – The Devil’s Nightmare is a worthwhile venture for any and all genre fanatics. Check it out, even if it’s just to see a newborn getting stabbed by a Nazi. Take that, innocence!
Official COSDS Nunspank Rating:
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Jocelyn lives on 35 acres of woodland in an undisclosed Appalachian location. When not boozing it up or fighting the power she's tending her organic garden or collecting punk/soundtrack albums. Her best friends walk on 4 legs. She does not own a cell phone.