To thee thy course by lot hath given charge and strict watch that to this happy place no evil thing approach or enter in …
Check out this brand new cover for the UK DVD release my latest horror film, THE DEVIL'S ROCK, which goes on general release in Britain on July 8th, and is available on DVD from July 11th.
For those who don’t already know, it concerns a Nazi plot to unleash demonic forces to win World War II, and may, I hope, resurrect that rarest of animals these days, the occult horror movie.
Let’s not kid ourselves, these massively frightening films were once a staple of the genre, and only gradually faded from popularity as religious beliefs in the West began to dwindle. Some of the greatest horror movies ever made belong to that scholarly realm of candles, incense and priestly defiance (or priestly fear, in most cases) in the face of super-terrifying enemies from the infernal regions.
This is a corner of doom-laden supernatural fiction originally examined by ghost story writers of earlier eras – Sheridan Le Fanu, Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James and so on, but it would finally hit a global audience in the form of blockbuster motion pictures like THE EXORCIST (1973), LEGION (1990), THE OMEN (1976), ROSEMARY’S BABY (1967), THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) and in my opinion the best of them all, NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957).
The quotation at the top of this article is lifted freely from John Milton’s epic 17th century poem concerning the fall of man, PARADISE LOST. It details the message given by the archangel Uriel to the archangel Gabriel, when charging him with protecting the Garden of Eden against the forces of chaos lying beyond its boundaries.
It was used to hair-raising effect in another ‘demonic horror’ classic, the Michael Winner film of 1977, THE SENTINEL, an adaptation of Jeffrey Convitz’s novel of the same name – both that book and movie were in no doubt that criminals and killers are backing the wrong team, and that no amount of psychoanalysis or sociologically-based excuse-making for bad behaviour will cut any ice when a soul faces final judgement. In fact, all of these movies (and the books and short stories that spawned them) took a very no-nonsense position on the subject of good and evil. Wickedness is wickedness; that’s all there is to it – and it comes with a horrific price-tag.
Even if we aren’t religious believers, there’s undoubtedly something about these books and movies that touches a raw nerve inside us. It evokes a latent fear, perhaps, that, regardless of our rational convictions, there may, beyond the thin veil of our corporeal world, be a realm of darkness where incomprehensible powers are seeking to destroy us body and soul purely for the pleasure it will give them.
This is not a popular message in our hedonistic, responsibility-free age, but it’s a message that is still there and it’s one we’ll hopefully rekindle with THE DEVIL'S ROCK. We’ve been a little bit naughty with this one, actually. We’ve chosen one of those few periods of history when genuine evil was unleashed across the surface of our world, and mankind had to struggle desperately – at great cost to himself – to constrain it, with no apparent assistance from the forces of good (though we don't know that to be true - do we?).
THE DEVIL'S ROCK is only a film of course. It’s important not to get too carried away, but appalling things still happen, and deeds are done that simply defy belief.
So now you know what you have to do. Keep strict watch ...