Saturday, October 29, 2016
2016 October Horror Challenge #87: "Mark of the Devil"
This is one of those movies that'd notorious in horror circles for being graphic. There are probably more violent movies that have come out since this movie was released, but back in its day, it was shockingly violent. Due to its reputation, it was one of those movies that I've always wanted to see. I actually thought I had seen this movie, under another title, but I found out that I was mistaken, so of course I felt the need to watch it immediately.
This movie is about fanatical 18th century witch hunters who rape, torture, and kill people all in the name of punishing those who have supposedly consorted with Satan. I don't know about how this movie ranks among other "most violent" movies, I've probably seen gorier movies, but what stood out here to me was the cruelty. These guys strip a man, coat him with tar and feathers in the town square, and crowds stand around and laugh like they're watching a comedy on TV. Then two women get burned alive in front of the crowd, and they laugh and cheer and yell jeering comments like it's entertainment. People are fucked up.
The movie is sleazy. The brutality is oversexualized, and there's a "love story" thrown in between one of the witch hunters and a woman accused of being a witch. At least the love interest witch hunter is one if the guys who shuns needless brutality and honestly thinks he's doing the right thing, fighting Satan in the name of God and all that. It's hard for me to believe that anyone saw this torture as justified, though, and a voiceover tells us that some of the accused were held captive for years and tortured before being killed. Ick.
There's a point at which an accused witch is chained down with her mouth held open and her tongue is ripped out. The not-so-bad witch hunter guy pauses before ripping her tongue out, and the head guy in charge says "we must never falter when doing the Lord's work." Like...seriously? Who the fuck thinks that is the Lord's work?! I know this is just a movie, but things like this actually happened! People were really tortured and raped and killed and burned alive like this in the name of God, and people thought it was right. People gathered in the streets to watch it really happen. For me, that's the scariest thought of all. People are way scarier than monsters. I'm glad I finally got to see this movie, but it depressed me at the same time.