Nicholas de Richleau (Christopher Lee) & Rex (Leon Greene) want to save
their friend Simon (Patrick Mower) from a sect of satanists, lead by evil
wizard Mocata (Charles Gray), but when the 2 first drag Simon off a Black Mass,
he manages to eljude them, leaving them with only one clue, a girl called
Tanith (Nike Arrighi), whom they prompty abduct to their friend Richard's (Paul
Eddington) country home.
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The girl though, under M ocata's spell, proves to be elusive as well
& only by luck can Rex follow her & spy out the location of a Black
Mass the same night ... & this Black Mass is actually the ceremony in which
both Simon & Tanith are to be baptized, & suddenly Nicholas & Rex
see themselves facing uneven odds: not only have they to fight Mocata & his
hordes of satanists, but also the Dark Lord himself, who appears at he baptism.
However, with a car & a cruzifix they seem to have a winning hand &
free both Simon & Tanith (who Rex has since fallen in love with), &
bring htem back to Richard's house.
But Mocata still has a few aces up his sleeve, as he first tries to
hypnotize Richard's wife Marie (Sarah Lawson) into submittance, & when that
doesn't work, promises her to send something to come get his 2 elusive
worshippers that same night.
& while Tanith decides to flee the place in order not to bring any
danger to the others, but soon having Rex hot on her heels & tieing her up
in a shed in order to keep her with him, Nicholas reverts to some White Magic
to ward off the Black Magic, as he positions the rest of the group (Richard,
Marie, Simon, but curiously enough not Richard & Marie's daughter Peggy or
the house's butler) in a magic circle where Mocata's magic can't harm them -
but he plays his mindgames with them, meddling with their thoughts &
showing them some horrors just outside the circle. In the end though, as Mocata
unleashes the Angel of Death onto them though, Nicholas can only revert to the
most powerful spell of the Xeraphim that can disturb the fabric of time itself
to save them ... But the Angel, once called can't return empty handed, so, when
he can't tough the group in the circle, he takes with him Tanith.
& everything's alright ?
Of course not, as I have already pointed out, everyone neglected to take
little Peggy into the circle (which is one major plothole of the movie), who
has of course now been kidnapped by evil Mocata, & he prepares to sacrifice
her, as Nicholas sum,mons the dead Tanith through Marie, who simply says the
spell of the Xeraphim again ... & everything is good ?
Oh yes, time has rewritten itself, now Tanith has survived it all, & the
Angel of Death has taken Mocata with him.
Despite the disappointing & not at all thought through happy ending
& some major plotholes (the fact that Richard & Marie left their
daughter outside the circle warding off Mocata's magic is just one of them),
this is an interesting, entertaining & suspenseful occult thriller,
directed by Terence Fisher with more subtlety than his usual output (not that
there would be anything wrong with his other films), complimented by
atmospheric settings (which was both Fisher's & Hammer's speciality) &
overall competent acting.