THE DEVIL’S MEN (1976) Reviews and Limited Edition Indicator Blu-ray news

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The Devil’s Men has received the Limited Edition Blu-ray treatment from British label Indicator, an imprint of Powerhouse Films. The release will be available on 21st February 2022 and can be pre-ordered now.

A new fact-filled audio commentary has been researched and recorded by Adrian J Smith, the owner and editor of MOVIES and MANIA, and David Flint, a contributor to this site and the owner/editor of The Reprobate. Other special features include:

New 2K restoration from the original negative
Two presentations of the film: The Devil’s Men (94 mins), the original cut; and Land of the Minotaur (86 mins), the shorter US theatrical version
Original mono audio
The John Player Lecture with Peter Cushing (1973): the legendary actor in conversation at the National Film Theatre, London
Interview with producer Frixos Constantine
Feature-length Super 8 version
Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Limited edition exclusive booklet featuring a new essay by Andrew Graves, an archival interview with star Donald Pleasence, extracts from original promotional materials, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
World premiere on Blu-ray
Limited edition of 2,000 copies

Meanwhile, here’s our previous coverage of a film that should be seen in its full fleshy and bloody UK version and not the castrated PG-rated Land of the Minotaur American edit (which also omits the devilishly catchy prog-rock song):

‘They were possessed!’

The Devil’s Men is a 1976 American-British-Greek horror film directed by Kostas Karagiannis (The Wife Killer aka Death Kiss; The Greek Connection) from a screenplay written by Arthur Rowe (The Magnificent Seven Ride!; Zeppelin). Produced by British-based Cypriot Frixos Constantine.

The movie stars Donald Pleasence, Peter Cushing, Kostas Karagiorgis, Luan Peters (Vampira; The Flesh and Blood Show; Twins of Evil; Lust for a Vampire), Jane Lyall (Island of Death), Robert Behling [as Bob Behling] (Island of Death) and Jessica Dublin (The Toxic Avenger II and III; Death Steps in the Dark; The Rejuvenator; Island of Death; So Sweet, So Dead).

The ambient soundtrack score was composed by Brian Eno. Paul Williams (of British band Tempest) sang the bombastic prog-rock song composed by Karl Jenkins (of Soft Machine) that plays over the end credits.

In the US, Crown International Pictures removed the brief shots of unclothed ladies and some bloodletting, reduced the running time overall and released the film as Land of the Minotaur to cash in on the success of the Amicus production The Land That Time Forgot.

Plot:

Tourists visiting a Greek archaeological site are being abducted by a strange cult, intent on providing their God – a Minotaur – with sacrifice. Irish priest Father Roche (Donald Pleasence) enlists the help of a former pupil and a private detective to find out what has happened to them…

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Reviews [many of which are of the PG-rated Land of the Minotaur cut version, not the full film]:

” …Carayiannis delivers an adequate project that’s professional and bloodless as any ABC “movie of the week.” Brian Eno’s musical score might make Land of the Minotaur interesting to completists as a collector’s curio, but as a genre film, it’s inessential.” AllMovie

“Fifties formulary with Seventies trimmings.” BFI Monthly Film Bulletin

“The main attraction of this film to horror film fans is that it has two seasoned actors of the genre with Donald Pleasance and Peter Cushing. Their appearance does aid the film but they seem underused and the dialogue is definitely not up to their usual caliber […] The rest of the cast is adequate and the two blondes in the cast are nice eye candy as they wear shorts so tight and short that they look like denim underwear.” Blood Brothers

“There’s Cushing and Pleasence on hand in major roles, high production values, an excellent shooting location, a fine score from Brian Eno, some cool props (including a great stone minotaur that shoots flames out of its nostrils) and great sets… and this thing still sucks. The culprits? Annoying direction and a terrible screenplay.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

” …an absolutely first-rate experimental low-frequency electronic score by the iconic composer/pop guru Brian Eno. The former Roxy Music mastermind coats this slowly-paced film with speaker throbbing drones, eerie synthesizer washes and pulses that render it almost meditative. It’s a case study for any serious horror movie minded music maker on how to milk unease out of imagery…” ComingSoon.net

“The movie’s fun in its own campy way. Cushing and Pleasence are, hands-down, the best parts about it and it’s nice to see things that have that Hammer tone, even if they’re not explicitly Hammer films. It does drag a bit, though, and there isn’t a whole lot of tension or drama […] There are some nice sets as well as unintentional hilarity, though, so it’s not too bad. Nothing great, but satisfying enough.” d.contexualized:

“Director Kostas Karagiannis films Land of the Minotaur unimaginatively, relying on silly zoom-ins to closeups of eyes whenever he wants to suggest intensity (which is often) […] Nothing that happens in the movie is surprising, the suspense scenes are inert, and the over-the-top finale—complete with exploding cultists—feels like it’s happening in a different movie.” Every 70s Movie

“It’s got Peter Cushing. It’s got Donald Pleasence. It’s got some lovely Greek scenery. It’s got a score by rock/ambient music star Brian Eno […] But, thanks to lifeless direction and a ludicrous script infected with cliches, it doesn’t help. But then, what do you expect of a movie whose title emerges from the nose of a minotaur?” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Apart from Pleasence and Cushing, this is a pretty standard ‘teens get kidnapped by cultists’ type of movie […] the cool part about this movie is the end, where the priest throws holy water on this giant minotaur statue that the cultists are gathered around and it explodes… As do all the priests in their goofy robes. That was awesome.” Films in Boxes

The Devil’s Men is given a bit of lift from some appropriately atmospheric Greek locales, the presence of two old pros like Pleasence and Cushing (though I doubt the sporadically-appearing Cushing spent more than a few days on the set), and a chilling electronic score by Brian Eno, of all people.  Hardly the most embarrassing picture Pleasence or Cushing ever made, but certainly in the “good Bad Movie” realm.” Good Efficient Butchery

“Karagiannis comes across as a Greco-Roman hack job of the highest order, not just in representing his native land on film but in relying too much on shock-cut editing and zooms to disorient when all they do is distract. And the dialogue from teleplay veteran Arthur Rowe is a shambles too, making references to character details of jarring inconsistency (Father Roche lacks the finesse and beleaguered conviction of the later Dr Loomis, coming across more like a crusading crackpot and perpetual nag)…” Mind of Frames

” …The Devil’s Men can be kind of lazy fun […] not scary at all, but odd and creepy in a way, with some tame gore to kick you a little bit. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with checking out the good-looking performers here, either, regardless of whether or not they can act (after all, that’s why it’s called exploitation cinema). Jane Lyle looks just fine after a shower, while pneumatic Luan Peters is an architectural wonder of cantilevered pulchritude…” Movies and Drinks

“Whilst the story fairly plods along, some of the Greek countryside is diverting enough. There are also occasional flashes of nudity to titillate the mid-seventies cinemagoers who had proven to have a penchant for such things. The dubbing (all post-synched) gives the film a disjointed air, with Greek actors getting bland American accents throughout.” My Reviewer

“Say what you will about the meandering plot and the sloppy editing, this one’s got atmosphere — creepy, breathtaking atmosphere […]  The dialogue, I admit, is laughable, and the plot unfolds haphazardly, with little rhyme or reason […] And yet, I wanted to continue watching until the very end.” Mystery*File

“The script is all over the place, the direction is uneven, the actors range from really good to just very, very bad. But The Devil’s Men also has a lot of atmosphere and an imaginative storyline filled with human sacrifices, nudity and bored acting by Cushing. Everything involving human sacrifice looks excellent, with sect members in colourful capes, a fire-blowing Minotaur statue, even some blood…” Ninja Dixon

” …predictable, yeah, to the point where you might find yourself watching for nothing more than the sake of hoping either genre giant will do something noteworthy. Pleasance has a few good scenes […] Cushing conveys his usual greatness and is pretty creepy as the old bastard Baron.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

” …Pleasence did his best Max von Sydow impersonation as he clutched a bejewelled cross and found that was the ideal way to fend off the cultists, though even then he is convinced they are Satanists when it’s obvious to everyone else the Baron and his followers are worshipping Ancient Greek deities, which should have had a potential twist of novelty but the film does little with it.” The Spinning Image

“While the movie definitely had its shortcomings, Cushing and Pleasence were the saving grace of the film. If they had been absent this would have been an entirely different picture so it was good that the makers of the film spent their money on something worthwhile even if a stronger script would have resulted in a much better end result.” The Telltale Mind

Donald Pleasence is the only one to struggle with some conviction in this preposterous story which mixes witchcraft and living dead myths with the inevitable touch of exorcism … Even if his praiseworthy efforts enable him to save Luan Peters from the (expected) sacrifice, it is not enough to save the film from disaster.” Pierre Jouis, Ten Years of Terror

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“It isn’t terrible or anything like that; it’s just kinda slow-moving and uninspired.  If you’ve seen one Satanist cult movie, you’ve pretty much seen them all.  This one is distinguished by the hilarious talking Minotaur idol and a pair of British horror stalwarts traipsing around collecting a paycheck.” The Video Vacuum

“Pleasence, with his cod-accent, furiously overacts in every scene; Cushing on the other hand, opts to underplay – at least in the early scenes – and demonstrates how stillness can create a sense of icy menace. Sadly, it is not an effect that is sustained throughout and the Baron soon descends into formula. By then, the film has become mired in a narrative that seems to be stuck in first gear…” John Hamilton, X-Cert 2: The British Independent Horror Film: 1971 – 1983

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Cast and characters:

Donald Pleasence … Father Roche
Peter Cushing … Baron Corofax
Luan Peters … Laurie Gordon
Kostas Karagiorgis … Milo (as Costa Skouras)
Dimitris Bislanis … Sergeant Vendris (as Fernando Bislani) dubbed by Robert Rietti
Anna Matzourani … Widow – Mrs Mikaelis (as Anna Mantzourani)
Christina … Grocer’s Daughter
Nikos Verlekis … Tom Gifford (as Nikos Verlel Verlekis)
Vanna Reville … Beth (as Gelsomina)
Bob Behling … Ian
Anestis Vlahos … Shopkeeper – Karapades – also in Death Steps in the Dark
George Veulis … Chauffeur – Max (as George Vevlis)
Jane Lyle … Milo’s Girlfriend
Meira Shore … Maid (as Meira)
Jessica Dublin … Mrs Zagros (as Jessica)
Efi Kosma … First female victim – also in The Wife Killer
Lambrinos … First male victim

Technical details:

94 minutes 20 seconds

Trailer:

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