Arrow Video has announced the UK dual format (Blu-ray and DVD) release of cult 1970 horror favourite Mark of the Devil.
A bloody and brutal critique of religious corruption, Mark of the Devil sees horror icon Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein, Suspiria) play a witchfinder’s apprentice whose faith in his master (Herbert Lom) becomes severely tested when they settle in an Austrian village. Presided over by the sadistic albino (a memorably nasty turn from Reggie Nalder), the film presents its morality not so much in shades of grey as shades of black.
Written and directed by Michael Armstrong, who would later pen Eskimo Nell, The Black Panther and House of the Long Shadows, this classic shocker has lost none of its power over the years – especially now that British audiences can finally see it in one piece.
With Mark of the Devil, writer-director Michael Armstrong created a bloody and brutal critique of state-funded brutality and religious corruption with a doomed romance at its centre. The use of real torture implements, which Armstrong had found in the Mauterndorf Museum, added to the realism of the picture and made it all the more shocking and the violence unpalatable. In America Mark of the Devil was distributed with the marketing gimmick of a free sick bag provided for every patron.
In the UK the BBFC were obliged to sit through the entire uncut film and deemed it “vicious and disgusting.” They recommended that a certificate be refused entirely and provided a list of required cuts to make the film acceptable for an X certificate.
Altogether the required cuts amounted to 2,100 feet of film; approximately twenty-four minutes running time. However, despite being awarded an X certificate, Mark of the Devil never received a theatrical release in the UK. In 1993 Redemption Films resubmitted the uncut film with cuts still demanded which amounted to more than four minutes. Described by the BBFC as a film whose “primary urge is with the dynamics of inquisitorial torture.”
Another ten years later a DVD was released by Anchor Bay Entertainment which was also cut, although by only 38 seconds. Three cuts were made to the scene in which the blonde woman is tortured on the rack. The cuts removed her naked breasts as it was an unacceptable combination of sexually titillating and violent images under the BBFC guidelines at that time.
This means that finally, after more than forty years, the full-blooded, full-frontal version of Mark of the Devil can be released onto an unsuspecting UK public in a newly restored transfer with a host of extra features, including an audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell, an exclusive feature-length documentary, Mark of the Times, which looks at the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies. The documentary will feature contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren (Terror), David McGillivray (Frightmare), Professor Peter Hutchings (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman.
Other special features included on the disc include, Hallmark of the Devil, which sees author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas and Mark of the Devil: Now and Then which looks at the film’s locations and how they appear today.
The disc will also feature interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and Herbert Lom. Alongside this, the Blu-ray will also feature outtakes, the original theatrical trailer, a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and a sizable collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork.
Once proclaimed as “positively the most horrifying film ever made”, Mark of the Devil finally arrives uncut in the UK on dual format (DVD and Blu-ray) from Arrow Films on 29th September 2014 at the RRP of £24.99.
Featuring a High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements – available uncut in the UK for the first time – plus optional English and German audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, the disc will have the following extras:
Audio commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell
Mark of the Times – exclusive feature-length documentary from High Rising Productions on the emergence of the ‘new wave’ of British horror directors that surfaced during the sixties and seventies, featuring contributions from Michael Armstrong, Norman J. Warren, David McGillivray, Professor Peter Hutchings and famed film critic Kim Newman
Hallmark of the Devil – author and critic Michael Gingold looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas
Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and Herbert Lom
Mark of the Devil: Now and Then – a look at the film’s locations and how they appear today
Reversible Sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Adrian Smith and Anthony Nield, plus an interview with Reggie Nalder by David Del Valle, all illustrated with original stills and artwork