Carole Gray commands you!
(Click to enlarge.)
For this Carole fix, however, Devils of Darkness delivers. Not to any great extent, mind you, but enough. Playing Tania, she breaks into an Esmeralda shimmy near the beginning, a lot of tambourine shaking and lusty hair-tossing. Petite with dark, piercing, seductive eyes (the Ava connection), I found her disappointingly short in the legs. Regardless, the actress is firmly rooted in this brief but potent display, vibrant and alive, undoubtedly inspired by Maureen O’Hara in The Hunchback. It feels as if the production — a low budget British takeoff on the Hammer product from a fly-by-night claiming to be called Planet Films — simply lucked out when they signed her.
Tania’s taken under the batwing of Lucifer-as-Dracula going under the nom de plume Count Sinistre (get it?) who demands her for his wife. If you’ve had a few drinks this could become a terrific running gag, because the swishy and wan Count as played by Hubert Noël (he was Henri de Maleville in The Earrings of Madame de…), appears less than interested in carnal relations with any woman. Several centuries later — Tania and Sinistre don’t age: she’s still hot, he still looks like a sack of flour — they’re in a jam with nosy tourists and leave their base in Brittany to kick off a satellite coven in London.
They’re also after a gilded talisman stolen by William Sylvester, a bland American actor who did most of his work in England. A year earlier he battled a deranged ventriloquist in Lindsay Shonteff’s creepy Devil Doll, and Stanley Kubrick, seeking featureless types to play astronauts, cast him as Dr. Heywood ‘Pink’ Floyd in 2001: A Space Odyssey — he was the one having a video phone chat with young Vivian Kubrick. (If you’ve a sharp eye, you can spot Sylvester alongside Alexander Knox and Robert [Slime People] Hutton in the Pentagon scenes of You Only Live Twice.) Disappearing corpses, bite marks on necks and London in a tizzy, Sinistre grows bored with Tania, relegating Carole Gray to second banana to a voluptuous bohemian so cool she wears sunglasses indoors. That would be Tracy Reed (stepdaughter of Sir Carol, stepcousin of Oliver). Buxom, long legs, with miles of silky red hair, Tracy also shares a Kubrickian connection as George C. Scott’s bikinied secretary in Dr. Strangelove.
All this and more in 88 minutes. How can you resist?
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Labels: Capsule reviews