A Candle for the Devil is currently free to watch online in the UK and Ireland via the Talking Pictures website. Available until midnight on November 30, 2022. Here’s our previous coverage of the movie:
A Candle for the Devil is a 1973 Spanish horror 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 and Julia Montserrat.
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.” 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
“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 @ss Cinema
” …it’s a riveting little psycho shocker that rarely slows down with Bautista, in particular, delivering an unhinged, feverish performance. It also bears an interesting resemblance to the American softcore horror staple Evil Come, Evil Go, which was made the previous year by Walt Davis and focuses on two women driven by religion and sexuality to kill those who cross their path.” Mondo Digital
” …another instance of European cinema of the nineteen-seventies taking the censorship bull by the horns and presenting as extreme material as they could get away with, satiating the public’s desire for sensationalised entertainment, not that you would find this effort knocking your socks off particularly. What it did have, as it took the moral high ground, was a sleazy atmosphere apparently at odds with the anti-hypocrisy message…” The Spinning Image
“Good performances throughout (Bautista steals the show as Marta), bolstered by some well-handled suspense and a cleverly timed finale with Geeson vs. the demented duo. Watch out for stray eyeballs in your soup…” The Terror Trap
“I liked how you pretty much knew the score with the two murderess innkeepers right from the get-go. There was no mystery about who killed the sister and why and by doing things that way, the audience knew a heck of a lot more than the main character. At the very least it saved us a lot of Scooby-Doo-style scenes of the chick trying to solve a mystery and sh-t.” The Video Vacuum
“For all its seriousness, there is a bit of black comedy to be found here and more than enough moments of delicious irony (much of the on-screen nudity is provided by our morally righteous antagonists). It’s pleasant in its unpleasantness, a nice tall glass of exploitation goodness that I can’t recommend highly enough.” You Have Died of Dysentery
The director’s cut of Una vela para el Diablo was presented at Cannes’ film market in 1973, with a running time of 120 minutes, became legendary, and invisible, after the film was subjected to Spanish censorship, which approved it at 83m 31s. Re-titled A Candle for the Devil, this version was approved with additional cuts by the BBFC in April 1974 and rated ‘X’. This heavily censored 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.
Re-titled The Sadista Sisters, the film was shown in the early 1980s at the Boulevard Theater, the upstairs of the Raymond Revue Bar Theatre, in Soho, London, in a non-rated version, before the Video Recordings Act 1984 became law.
Cast and characters:
Aurora Bautista … Marta
Esperanza Roy … Veronica
Judy Geeson … Laura Barkley
Víctor Barrera/Vic Winner … Eduardo
Lone Fleming … Helen Miller
Blanca Estrada … Norma
Carlos Piñeiro … Luis
Loreta Tovar … May Barkley
Montserrat Julió … Beatriz
Fernando Villena … Doctor
Fernando Hilbeck … Mayor
Una vela para el diablo