I first came across the movie Mark of the Devil a couple of years ago when I was reading about it on a message board. I immediately took a liking to it since it is a very graphic film and is a well written put together production.
It is not really a horror film, but more of a period piece telling the tale of some of the shocking practices done by the Catholic Church in those days. You will find a very realistic portrayal on how absurd some of these practices were. It would be unfair to dismiss Mark of the Devil as a film made just for shock purposes.
The director Michael Armstrong put together a solid cast that includes German horror movie legend Udo Kier, who was a young man during this filming and is notable for his alien like icy blue eyes that are somewhat creepy. The female actresses featured in this film such as Olivera Katarina are all very beautiful, voluptuous, and big breasted. Olivera Katarina is very fiery in her performance as the damsel in distress. Udo Kier is a bit robot like in his performance, but you will like his noble character he plays.
I believe some of them may be from some Hammer Studio production films. The performances by Reggie Nalder and Herbert Lom are well done. As you watch their corruption on display, you will start to hate their arrogance and how viciously they abuse their power in the name of god. Herbert Lom is a pompous piece of garbage as Lord Cumberland. Reggie Nalder as Albino is a real nasty creep.
The prominent theme song that plays in Mark of the Devil’s more tranquil scenes is very beautiful. The cinematography is excellent. The Austrian countryside on display, which features beautiful lush mountains and castles, makes you want to go visit there.
The torture and execution scenes of the so called witches are very graphic, which involves them being stretched on racks, burned with branding irons, flogged with Cat o’ nine tails, stabbed with various sharp objects, beheaded, having their tongue ripped out, or lowered into a burning funeral pyre while still alive. The camera zooms in on the victims face as they scream in anguish. There is also some nudity in it.
I don’t really find Mark of the Devil as really shocking despite the graphic nature to it. The only thing that is shocking about it is how cruel people can be all the while doing things under the name of god. I would consider it tame in comparison to some other Exploitation/Grindhouse Cinema films such as Alucarda (1977), Satánico pandemonium (1975), Zombi 2 (1979), Cannibal Holocaust (1980), and The Living Dead Girl (1982).
The movie highlights an era of prejudice and unwarranted fear in this case perpetrated by religion. There is a message in that we must be constantly vigilant to avoid this same type of fear and prejudice in our daily lives even today. I would highly recommend to buy this well-made film and to check out another film that is similar, The Witchfinder General (1968) starring Vincent Price.