Devil’s Nightmare – aka The Devil’s Nightmare – is a 1971 Belgian-Italian supernatural horror feature film directed by Jean Brismée from a screenplay by Patrice Rohmm (The She Wolf of Spilberg) and a story by Pierre-Claude Garnier. It was released in Belgium as La plus longue nuit du diable and in Italy as La terrificante notte del demonio.
The movie stars Erika Blanc (Kill, Baby… Kill!; The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave; Mark of the Devil, Part II), Jean Servais, Jacques Monseau, Ivana Novak (Seven Blood-Stained Orchids; The Red-Headed Corpse), Shirley Corrigan (The Crimes of the Black Cat; Doctor Jekyll vs. the Werewolf) and Daniel Emilfork.
The Devil’s Nightmare opens with a sepia-toned flashback to the closing days of World War II. A child has been born to the Nazi general, Baron von Rohnberg (Jean Servais) but after the Baron learns that the baby is female, he orders that she be killed. It’s a brutally effective little opening, all the more so because there is no greater evil than a Nazi with money and a title. As with many European horror films, the crimes and sins of Hitler cast a shadow over every scene of Devil’s Nightmare.
Years later, like many Third Reich noblemen, the Baron remains free. He lives in his isolated castle, occasionally letting tourists stay for the night while he practices his experiments in the basement. A reporter comes by and pays a steep price for refusing the Baron’s orders not to take any pictures. When her body is found, she has a hoof-shaped burn on her arm. The sign of the devil, we are told.
A small coach takes a wrong turn and the occupants become lost. The tourists onboard are a typical collection of Eurohorror types: the greedy woman, the bitter old businessman who loudly proclaims his atheism, the fighting husband and wife, and, of course, Alvin (Jacques Monseau), the seminarian. The tourists meet a strange man (Daniel Emilfork) who directs them to the Baron’s castle, where they can stay until the ferry arrives the next day.
As the tourists explore the castle and get to know the Baron (who shares the story of how his family came to be cursed), a storm develops outside. And, finally, one last guest arrives. Her name is Lisa Muller (Erika Blanc) and, over the course of the night, everyone in the castle will be tempted.
The Devil’s Nightmare works surprisingly well. What it may have lacked in a production budget, the film more than makes up for in atmosphere. The castle is a wonderfully creepy location and, as played by Jean Servais, the Baron becomes a potent symbol of aristocratic decay. Daniel Emilfork brings an eccentric flair to his role and, even if he is basically playing the movie’s most boring character, Jacques Monseau is sympathetic and believable as the upright seminarian.
That said, this film belongs to Erika Blanc, who basically grabs hold of the movie and then dares anyone to try to take it away from her. Throughout the film, Blanc shifts from elegant to evil and back again and she makes it all look not only easy but totally natural as well.
Finally, The Devil’s Nightmare ends with a twist that you’ll see coming from a mile away but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying.
Lisa Marie Bowman, Guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens
‘… The Devil’s Nightmare has some unexpected strengths. Though it is compromised by a lack of thematic follow-through, the conceit that Lita has one potential victim for each of the Seven Deadly Sins is a cool touch— remember, this was 24 years before Seven. And Erika Blanc makes a terrific succubus.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“Attempts at allegory notwithstanding, La Plus longue nuit is one of those delirious Euro-horrors of the period that seems to have everything – a ritzy score from Alessandro Alessandroni (complete with a breathy Morricone-style vocalist), a mix-and-match multi-national cast, an unconvincing and laboriously extended lesbian interlude, and a surfeit of elaborate settings…” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic
“From the stormy night to the authentically spiky and unwelcoming castle (which comes complete with laboratory and torture chamber) to the heavily symbolic chess match between the priest and the atheist, this movie unrepentantly rolls around nude and cackling in its own cliches.” Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire
“Downside? The plotting is incoherent at times, and the symbolism heavy-handed. But with a colorful cast of characters, this is truly a fun watch…” The Terror Trap
Cast and characters:
Erika Blanc … Lisa Müller
Jean Servais … Baron von Rhoneberg
Daniel Emilfork … Satan
Jacques Monseau … Father Alvin Sorel [as Jacques Monseu]
Lucien Raimbourg … Mason
Colette Emmanuelle … Nancy
Ivana Novak … Corinne
Shirley Corrigan … Regine
Frédérique Hender … TBC
Lorenzo Terzon … Howard
Christian Maillet … Ducha
Maurice De Groote … Hans [as Maurice Degroot]
International release titles:
Au service du diable
Castle of Death (video title)
La nuit des pétrifiés
La terrificante notte del demonio (Italy)
Nightmare of Terror (video title)
O Demonio Sai a Meia-Noite (Brazil)
Seytanlarin hizmetinde (Turkey)
Stin ypiresia tou diavolou (Greece)
The Devil Walks at Midnight
The Devil’s Nightmare USA)
Vampire Playgirls (USA: reissue title)
Yö paholaisen linnassa (Finland: TV title)