Mark of the Devil, Night Train to Terror, and Seytan

Mark of the Devil – 1970, Germany, 93m. Director: Michael Armstrong. Streaming: Prime, Tubi

Night Train to Terror – 1985, US, 93m. Director: John Carr, Philip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Gregg G. Tallas. Streaming: Roku Channel, Tubi

Seytan – 1974, Turkey, 101m. Director: Metin Erksan. Streaming: Shudder

MARK OF THE DEVIL (1970) As stated in the opening text crawl, this German shocker depicts historically accurate moments from documented cases about the brutal murder of “eight million” people during Europe’s heretical inquisitions—an exaggeration created by exploitative filmmakers for the benefit of sensationalism, which is all this Witchfinder General rip-off seems to care about. The arrival of notorious witch-hunter Cumberland (Herbert Lom) in a small 16th century Austrian village brings to the stake several local people accused of witchcraft. It’s mostly women in various stages of undress who are graphically tortured by way of infamously archaic devices—the stretching rack seems to be a favorite of Cumberland’s, to which a poor woman is strapped before having her tongue ripped out. Unfortunately Mark of the Devil puts so much energy into its death sequences that when it’s not mutilating victims the film is plodding and dull, with much of the English dubbing so hysterically anxiety-ridden it comes off as comedy. Infamously released in theaters handing out “barf bags” to audience members, although the movie is fairly tame by today’s standards. C

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985) A scattershot anthology that’s actually comprised of scenes stitched together from several unfinished feature-length horror films. While aboard a train heading towards destruction, God and Satan discuss the fate of three individuals, representing three tales of murder, greed, and other distasteful acts of sin. The first vignette features a drunkard (John Phillip Law) committed to a mental hospital, which is actually a front for a business trafficking human organs. The second story is about a struggling musician (Merideth Haze) who joins a secret society called the Death Club that subjects its members to weird experiments, at which one member is randomly killed. In the final segment, a medical doctor (Faith Clift) stumbles upon a several-hundred-years-old plot involving the immortal henchman of Satan. A bizarre hodgepodge of ideas, Night Train to Terror is often too brash and ridiculous to be taken seriously. Yet at the same time, it’s fairly inventive and fun, creating a rough but enjoyable experience for the adventurous viewer. If you expect anything more out of this offbeat cult fiasco, you’re in for a world of hurt. B

SEYTAN (1974) There are remakes, and there are rip-offs. A remake strives to acquire the same quality of production of a film and its story for a new generation. A rip-off ditches quality for quantity by exploiting a popular movie for the sole purpose of making money. Seytan is the latter, a bargain-basement plagiarization of The Exorcist that not only tries to copy that movie’s tone, but also steals entire scenes and dialogue from the William Friedkin film. A literal shot-for-shot clone, Seytan poorly depicts the slow possession of the 12-year-old daughter (Canan Perver) of a single parent (Meral Taygun)—but unlike Ellen Bustyn’s personality-infused movie star mom from The Exorcist, here the mother is a colorless high society rich lady who emits very little emotion besides hysterically bad overacting. A monotonous bore with absolutely no redeeming qualities aside from the unintentionally funny moment here and there. D

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