A CANDLE FOR THE DEVIL (1973) Reviews and overview


A Candle for the Devil British quad poster by Tom Chantrell

A Candle for the Devil – original title: Una vela para el diablo – is a 1973 Spanish horror feature film directed by Eugenio Martín (Death at the Deep End of the Swimming Pool; Horror Express; Supernatural) from a screenplay co-written with Antonio Fos (The Cannibal Man; The Vampires’ Night Orgy).


The movie stars Judy Geeson (10 Rillington Place; Doomwatch; Fear in the Night), Aurora Bautista, Esperanza Roy, Vic Winner (Horror Rises from the Tomb; Count Dracula’s Great Love), Lone Fleming (Tombs of the Blind Dead; Evil Eye; Wax), Blanca Estrada, Loreta Tovar, Julia Montserrat.


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Two old maid sisters are running a little family hotel in Spain. They are very religious and when the perceived lack of morals displayed by a young female British tourist is too much for them, they start to kill…



“The adorable Judy Geeson is very likeable and is quite good as Laura, but this one really is about the two sisters. Aurora Bautista and Esperanza Roy who plays Marta and Veronica do one hell of a job! Although these are two huge personalities they are played with a fair amount of restraint that doesn’t allow the performances to get campy. Really the entire film is about restraint. The film is subtle and isn’t nearly as exploitative as similar films from the decade.” Goregirl’s Dungeon

“As a mere horror film, this is a perfectly serviceable tale not unlike Tigon’s Beast in the Cellar but the direction and style brought to the sexual repression are of a higher order. It may be that politics were far from the film-maker’s minds but it is hard to believe that the dictatorship around them didn’t inform the themes…” The Digital Fix

candle for the devil

“Religious iconography also plays a major role in this picture (from paintings, to architecture and to faith, as distorted as it may be from the perspective of the sisters). This speaks volumes on the subject of Christianity through the ages and its decline with each passing decade.” Cool Ass Cinema






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“Una vela para el Diablo”, director’s cut presented at Cannes’ film market 1973, with a running time of 120 minutes, became legendary, and invisible, after the film was subjected to the Spanish censorship, that approved it at 83m 31s. Re-titled “A Candle for the Devil”, and English dubbed, this version was approved with additional cuts by the BBFC in April 1974 and rated ‘X’. This heavily cut version was distributed in some European countries and the USA.

In the US, the film was released theatrically in a heavily censored, truncated version as It Happened at Nightmare Inn on a double-bill with Things from the Grave.

Video versions – Re-titled The Sadista Sisters it was shown in the early 1980s at the Boulevard Theater, the upstairs of the Raymond Revue Bar Theatre, in Soho, London, UK, in a non rated version, before the Video Recordings Act 1984 became law.

Both the current US Scorpion Releasing DVD and British Screenbound DVD is fully uncut…

Cast and characters:

Aurora Bautista … Marta
Esperanza Roy … Veronica
Judy Geeson … Laura Barkley
Víctor Barrera … Eduardo (as Vic Winner)
Lone Fleming … Helen Miller
Blanca Estrada … Norma (as Blanche Estrada)
Carlos Piñeiro … Luis (as Charley Piñeiro)
Loreta Tovar … May Barkley
Montserrat Julió … Beatriz
Fernando Villena … Doctor
Fernando Hilbeck … Mayor
Herminia Tejela
Mery Leyva … (as Mari Leiva)

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