In this film, Erika Blanc stars as a homicidal Succubus prowling a twelfth century castle luring the film's various characters to their dooms. The brooding feminine threat in the movie is personified with a theme song consisting of moody haunting female vocals that the Succubus herself would surely approve of.
Filmed in Sepia with WWII stock footage interspersed between scenes, the start of this nightmare is a brilliant segment set in 1945 Berlin during one of the bloodiest battles in human history. While the battle is raging outside, a maid/midwife is nursing the Baroness, who is in labor. 2 uniformed men are nearby; one of these men is the Baron von Rhoneberg, looking fairly agitated, and the other is his servant Hans. The Baroness eventually passes away while giving birth, and even after the Baron realizes his wife has just died, he still seems to be deeply troubled by something else (and it’s not the fall off the Third Reich). When he learns that the baby is not a boy, he sends everyone away in order to be alone with his newborn daughter. Afterwards, he says a prayer, takes out a knife, and commits a dastardly deed…. What on Earth could compel a man to do such a thing?!!
|"What if I could completely undress in front of you? Do you think that I could be a Succubus? "--Erika Blanc|
Now that the movie has gotten everyone’s attention, it’s time for the intro credits, which are an enchanting segment that consist of a nice, postcard-like visual of a castle, where the movie will no doubt take place. This moment is sweetened by the film’s musical theme of a wailing female voice set over an organ synth, fused with progressive rock, giving off a pleasurable gothic '70s vibe. This segment really resonates with me and exemplifies that sort of sensationalism that I love from these movies. I believe a good intro credit sequence should serve to really put you in the mood for what’s to come, and this one gloriously succeeds.
|OH YEAH! This is what I signed up for.|
Flash forward to the present day of 1971 where the Baron from the WWII intro scene, who happens to inhabit this lovely castle and appears to have not aged a day, is being interviewed by a journalist about his family history. He gives subtle hints to the unspeakable deed we witnessed earlier, when he mentions a curse that has plagued his family for generations.
Against the Baron’s wishes, this journalist later takes pictures of the castle’s exterior, and is then murdered by something off screen that seems severely pissed off about her snapping pictures. When the locals discover her body, it is suggested that she was frightened to death. They also happen to notice the sign of the devil on her arm. A connection to the curse the Baron speaks of? Most likely…
Next, the main characters of the story are finally introduced when the movie cuts to a busload of tourist. A colorful and amusing cast of 7 characters that have particular traits about them that just seems to be made quite obvious at the onset. Let’s see... There’s the bus driver, munching on a chicken leg, demonstrating a good deal of GLUTTONY, a priest with an adequate amount of PRIDE, an old man who lets his ANGER get the best of him, a red head with a sheer amount of ENVY for a married woman, a lady full of GREED, whose husband happens to have an insatiable amount of LUST for the red head, and a sleepy SLOTH of a blond. Hmmm, now what does that remind me of? That’s right! They all are guilty of the capital vices, the cardinal sins, THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS! Now I see where this is going…
The bus runs into a road block, and the driver questions a delightfully creepy looking man (Daniel Emilfork), burning stuff on the side of the road, on where they can find a hotel. This man, who can best be described as the love child of Satan and Paul Reubens, gives them directions to the Baron’s Castle Von Rhoneberg. Go figure….
When they arrive to the castle they come across the Baron’s servant Hans, who is surprisingly hospitable to these out of town folks who have just barged into the castle. According to Hans, some lady had phoned previously alerting him that these guests would arrive, and to spice up the mystery, this unknown person on the phone has given Hans all of their names as well. Hmmmm….
After everyone is shown to their rooms, Hans visits the Baron working in his alchemy lab where he is mixing up colorful solutions of…. whatever it is these castle hermits like to work on in their secret hidden laboratories. In any case, the Baron alerts Hans to have dinner ready at eight.
While in their rooms waiting for dinner, GLUTTONY helps himself to some sausages he keeps in his suitcase, while ENVY and SLOTH engage in a, very risqué for its time, lesbian love scene, and the married couple LUST and GREED, get into a good old fashion argument.
Later, when everyone sits down to a grand, elegant, and quite Gothic dinner setting, the Baron divulges on the family curse that everyone has heard so much about. It seems that one of the von Rhoneberg ancestors from the twelfth century made a deal with the Devil. The downside of this deal is that the eldest daughter of each generation must be in Satan’s service and become a Succubus, who is described here as a female demon that seduces men and leads them to damnation.
So, that’s why the Baron committed that horrible deed at the beginning of the movie. He didn’t want anyone to fall victim to his daughter, who would grow up to seduce countless men to perdition.
At this point, everyone is probably wondering when this Succubus is finally going to come and do all of these sinners in? Well, just as everyone finishes the dinner conversation, Erika Blanc’s character comes knocking at the door at just the right time and things really start to pick up. You see, the Baron’s brother had a daughter named Lisa, who is making a surprise visit. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for the guests, there happens to be one more room in the castle for this lovely newcomer to stay the night. It’s instantly made obvious that she is the Succubus when the red roses she goes near, wilt and turn into black roses… So awesome!
As is usual with Erika Blanc, her outfits change throughout the movie, and her Succubus look is definitely the show stealer. She kills her victims while each is at the peak of their allocated mortal sin. Watching her stalk her prey is a delight because she really gets into her role, and it’s obvious she’s having a lot of fun. A subtle facial contortion, a black outfit, black nail polish, black lipstick, and green makeup is all it takes for Blanc to transform into one of the coolest and most convincing Succubi ever. The Devil even shows up to add some weight to the film’s climax.
The hottest Blanc moments are when she repeatedly keeps trying to seduce the priest, to no avail. The best is when Blanc’s character, not in Succubus form, comes into Father Alvin’s room in a slightly revealing black bell bottomed outfit. She then disappears into thin air, and just as Alvin is wondering if what he saw was real or not, she reappears in a different spot with a piece of her outfit removed. She then disappears again, while Alvin, hardly surprised for some reason, sits on the bed as she reappears behind him with even less clothes on. At this point the hotness gauge is through the roof. Now, I would be absolutely terrified, but this man of the cloth maintains his composure as she reappears behind him once more, this time completely in the nude. Pure genius….
|Erika Blanc? In my room?! Sweeeet!!!|
I believe this Valentine’s day I will curl up in front of the fireplace with a bottle of red wine and enjoy the pleasant company of several of Erika Blanc’s movies. I’m thinking THE NIGHT EVELYN CAME OUT OF THE GRAVE, SO SWEET SO PERVERSE, A DRAGONFLY FOR EACH CORPSE, and of course THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE, which I believe it to be a sensational film worth the time of any fan of vintage Gothic horror.
Fun Trivia: Blanc’s acting career spans several genres including giallo, erotic, western, comedy, and horror, to name a few. She was even the first actress to play EMMANUELLE in 1969. You know… those same EMMANUELLE movies that can still be found in the mature section of numerous video stores, to this day.
|One thing I learned from this movie is that Succubi dig guys who are good at Chess.|
I was really in the mood to hear this one day, and a Google search of "THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE theme" led me right back to this article, so I figured I’d embed a YouTube video of this marvelous piece for anyone looking for it.
THE DEVIL’S NIGHTMARE THEME: