"Those who enter the forbidden chamber of the minotaur must die..."
Father Roche (Donald Pleasence of ALONE IN THE DARK, PHENOMENA) asks his US-based, private investigator friend Milo (Kostas Karayiorgis) to help him out when a tourist group disappear. Milo comes to Greece and starts investigating the case along with the priest. Traces lead to Baron Corofax (Peter Cushing) who owns a pagan site near the village.
PLOT: What we have here is a typical horror story that deals with Satanism. Certainly not the most original someone could possibly come up with but what makes the difference here is the Greek setting. Or should I also mention that the members of the satanic cult are dressed in Ku Klux Klan outfits? I expected something slower and weaker than this because I had only read bad reviews for the film. To my surprise this one turned out to be a fast-moving, cult horror gem.
ACTING: Peter Cushing might not be at his best but still delivers a performance that takes the movie to a high level. So does Pleasence. Our expectations of these two horror icons are great and they never fail to live up to them. Kostas Karayiorgis (DIAMONDS ON HER NAKED FLESH) impressed me with his performance in this one as I remembered him mostly from his trashier, later outings. He does his usual sex scenes, this time with Jane Ryall (of ISLAND OF DEATH fame). Dimitris Bislanis (TANGO OF PERVERSION, THE RAPE KILLER) as the policeman shocked me with his horrifying, chilling performance in the ritual scene. I had no idea that this guy who was usually cast as cop could scare. Anestis Vlachos (DEATH STEPS IN THE DARK) is creepy as usual. Watch out for ISLAND OF DEATH lead Bob Belling and Nikos Verlekis (also DEATH STEPS IN THE DARK and LUSTING FOR SEX).
VISUAL: Karayianis was never a stylish filmmaker. he was more of a practical one, possessing knowledge on what he did and showing things in a rather standard but effective way. He knew what to show and when. In THE DEVIL'S MEN, he is given more space than usual to unfold his talents. And probably a decent budget, as this is a British/Greek co-production. The Greek countryside locations are just perfect, not to mention cleverly used by the director. One of the film's strong point is of course the cave setting where the satanic rituals take place. Karayianis here creates a few truly horrifying scenes, a scene of tension between Cushing, Pleasence and Karayiorgis and of course a great, realistic fight scene between Karayiorgis and Bislanis. Aris Stavrou (Greece's top director of photography, also in DIAMONDS ON HER NAKED FLESH) creates a cold and dark atmosphere with his cinematography. On the visual part, THE DEVIL'S MEN is a winner.
SCORE: What can I possibly write about Brian Eno's brilliant score? The title track is groovy hard rock with evil lyrics, crazy guitars and a drummer that totally shreds. Not to mention a singer that sounds a bit like Ozzy Osbourne! This one will stick to your mind for days or even months! You also got to love the evil noises that can be heard during some ritual scenes. These are used in a really clever way and manage to create tension and a chilling atmosphere. Hats off to Mr. Eno for such a unique work.
OVERALL: This is probably the one and only PURE HORROR Greek gem. If there were more films like this one and ISLAND OF DEATH, Greece would have a better reputation among cult/horror audiences. It's a real shame that it usually gets bad reviews because it deserves to be loved by both classic horror and Euro-cult audiences. THE DEVIL'S MEN is definitely one of the things that make me proud of my country!
SOURCE: DD Home Entertainment- Masters Of Horror (UK, DVD- letterboxed): I'm very happy that this movie finally got the release it always deserved. The transfer is not the clearest you've ever seen but it's still fine. There's a cool stills gallery and a perfect 24-page booklet with info on the movie and it's makers. Plus an interview with Christopher Lee where he talks about Peter Cushing. Overall, this is a must-buy.