Released in 1971 under the title La plus longue nuit du diable in Belgium and La plus longue nuit du diable in Italy, The Devil’s Nightmare is an oddly creepy production, one that takes advantage of religious dogma and uses human hypocrisy to great effect. Although produced on the cheap, the film nevertheless evokes a great gothic sensibility, presents a collection of actors who work hard to contribute to the film’s horror trappings, and a director that does what he can with what he has been given. Perhaps a little too talky for its own good, the movie still successfully creates a bizarre atmosphere with just enough moments of horror to keep fans intrigued for the final twist at the end.
The story begins with the final days of World War II, as aircraft continuously bomb Berlin, Germany. Baron von Rhoneberg (Jean Servais), who—as bombs fall around his home—murders his newborn daughter by thrusting a blade into her chest. Once this gruesome task has been accomplished, the movie shifts 20 to 30 years later, where Rhoneberg tells his story to a young female reporter. The reporter asks if she can take pictures of the baron’s castle, but he says no. Still, the reporter goes out and takes some pictures, only to be killed when a dry thunderstorm takes her out. When she discovered dead, there is a strange burn on her body. It turns out that the burn is the mark of the devil.
The story then shifts to a group of six tourists and their incompetent and gluttonous tour guide. The guide has become lost and is trying to find a hotel for the evening. The group encounters a strange, skinny man burning stuff in a field. The man (Daniel Emilfork, in a creepy and effective performance) is none other than Satan, who directs to an old castle that sometimes offers room and board. The castle belongs to none other than Baron von Rhoneberg.
The seven guests all display traits of the Seven Deadly Sins. Thrown into the mix is another guest, one Lisa Mueller (Erika Blanc), who turns out to be a succubus. The movie takes its time before the horror commences, mostly with drab scenes and dull dialogue. But once the succubus starts taking out the guests in lurid and violent ways, the violence and sex kick into gear. Things begin twisting and turning when Satan returns. Questions brought up early in the movie are at last answered, although there is one more twist to pull off before the movie comes to a close.
As with many Italian films of the era (this one produced in collaboration with Belgium filmmakers), there is plenty of sex and a fair amount of gore in this movie. Most the female casts strips down to nothing during the film, and there is a lesbian tryst, as well as a far tamer scene between a man and a woman. The special effects are sparse, although the makeup used to reveal the demon face of the succubus is pretty good. Director Jean Brusmee relies on the actors to evoke horror, and all the actors do a good job, particularly when delivering some pretty awful dialogue.
Although some the dialogue is not up to snuff, the storyline itself is quite well realized, with the script offering plenty of twists and turns along the way. The ancestry of Lisa Mueller is a bit convoluted, but in the end the story has a great payoff that will give fans of horror a grin. The devil’s manipulative abilities are on full display here, with Daniel Emilfork bringing the character to life with aplomb.
Although not a stellar movie, The Devil’s Nightmare is worth watching for fans of demon fare. Creepy, sexy, with a good story by screenwriter Patrice Rhomm, The Devil’s Nightmare is good in terms of visceral horror and in evoking a sense of crippling terror when all the pieces fall into place at the movie’s end.