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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält" or "Mark of the Devil" or "Burn, Witch, Burn"

or "Hexen" or "Satan" or "Witches Are Tortured to Death")

 

Directed by Michael Armstrong + Adrian Hoven
West Germany 1970

 

In the midst of the European witch trials, a small Austrian town is subject to the sadistic whims of self-appointed witchfinder Albino, who inflicts torture and agonizing death on those he accuses of conspiracy with the Devil. But when the zealous Lord Cumberland arrives, along with his executioner and aristocratic young attendant Christian, to take over the responsibility of local witch-hunting, the town is plunged into even greater depths of terror and depravity as he metes out ever more brutal tortures on the populace, all in the name of God. As Lord Cumberland's maniacal practices reach a fever pitch, and Christian's would-be love interest, Vanessa, ends up as his latest target, Christian is thrown into a crisis of faith, as the perilous edge of violence draws ever closer.

The result of an intensely troubled production which saw British writer/director Michael Armstrong (House of the Long Shadows) virtually at war with producer, famed Austrian actor Adrian Hoven (Kiss Me Monster), MARK OF THE DEVIL became an immediate international hit, generating equal parts acclaim and condemnation, with the film being banned in the United Kingdom and promoted in the U.S. by infamous distributor Hallmark Releasing with vomit bags and the slogan "Rated V for Violence!" Featuring the first starring role for future genre icon Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein), the film set a new benchmark for onscreen bloodshed with its graphic and unflinching portrayal of torture and dismemberment, culminating in the much-talked about tongue-ripping scene.

***

Released theatrically in 1970, Michael Armstrong’s film Mark of the Devil is essentially remembered for two things: a U.S. marketing campaign that championed the film as ‘rated V for violence’, and theaters passing out barf bags emblazoned with the film’s name to each and every paying patron to see it. While this is one more example of the great marketing afforded to exploitation and horror films in decades past, the shame of it is that this film can easily stand on its own merits. It is, after all, arguably the best witch-hunter film out there (right up there with Vincent Price’s classic Witchfinder General aka Conqueror Worm).

Excerpt from Epionions located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 19th, 1970

Reviews                                                             More Reviews                                                        DVD Reviews

 

Review: Vinegar Syndrome - Region FREE - 4K UHD

Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Vinegar Syndrome - Region FREE - 4K UHD
Runtime 1:37:34.181        
Video

1.66:1 2160P 4K Ultra HD

Disc Size: 64,283,918,438 bytes

Feature: 64,027,099,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 80.98 Mbps

Codec: HEVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate 4K Ultra HD:

Audio

DUB:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1126 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1126 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1128 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1128 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English (SDH), English (German translated,) None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Vinegar Syndrome

 

1.66:1 2160P 4K Ultra HD

Disc Size: 64,283,918,438 bytes

Feature: 64,027,099,200 bytes

Video Bitrate: 80.98 Mbps

Codec: HEVC Video

 

Edition Details:

4K Ultra HD disc

• Commentary track with director Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell

 

Vinegar Syndrome - Region 'A' - Blu-rays

• "Performing God's Work" - a new interview with director Michael Armstrong (34:35)
• "The Devil's Apprentice" - a new interview with actor Udo Kier (19:26)
• "Words of the Devil" - a brief guide to the screenplays of Michael Armstrong with lecturer and film historian Dr. Adrian Smith (14:32)
• "A Hell of a Place" - the locations of MARK OF THE DEVIL
• "Mark of the Times" - a documentary from 2014 on the new wave of British horror filmmakers which emerged in the '60s and '70s (47:42)
• "Hallmark of the Devil" - author and filmmaker Michael Gingold on Hallmark Releasing, the controversial distributor behind MARK OF THE DEVIL's original U.S. release (19:03)
• 2013 Q&A with director Michael Armstrong (19:54)
• Archival interview with actor Herbert Fux (23:04)
• Archival interview with actress Gaby Fuchs (10:25)
• Archival interview with actress Ingeborg Schöner (9:02)
• Archival interview with composer Michael Holm (24:18)
• Archival audio interview with actor Herbert Lom (4:42)
• Outtakes (39:02)
• Alternate German language title sequence (2:47)
• Radio Spot (2:03)
• Archival artwork & image gallery
• English trailer (3:25)
Reversible cover artwork


4K Ultra HD Release Date: November 28th, 2023

Black 4K Ultra HD Case

Chapters 5

 

 

four

NOTE: The below Blu-ray and 4K UHD captures were taken directly from the respective discs.

ADDITION: Vinegar Syndrome 4K UHD (November 2024): Vinegar Syndrome's are releasing Michael Armstrong + Adrian Hoven's "Mark of the Devil" 4K UHD described as "Newly scanned and restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative." We reviewed the Arrow Blu-ray in 2014 HERE. The comparisons captures below are quite revealing - the new 2160P image presented with a High-Dynamic-Range pass has extremely deep black levels, rich colors (notable reds), warmer skin tones and consistent grain texture. Detail rises significantly and there is a shade more information in the frame on all 4 sides. Highly remarkable upgrade in the video appearance. 

This package is a 3-disc Set with one 44K UHD disc with only the feature (and commentary) and two Region 'A' Blu-rays - one with the feature and extras and the second with more supplements.

It is likely that the monitor you are seeing this review is not an HDR-compatible display (High Dynamic Range) or Dolby Vision, where each pixel can be assigned with a wider and notably granular range of color and light. Our capture software if simulating the HDR (in a uniform manner) for standard monitors. This should make it easier for us to review more 4K UHD titles in the future and give you a decent idea of its attributes on your system. So our captures may not support the exact same colors (coolness of skin tones, brighter or darker hues etc.) as the 4K system at your home. But the framing, detail, grain texture support etc. are, generally, not effected by this simulation representation.

NOTE: 50 more more full resolution (3840 X 2160) 4K UHD captures, in lossless PNG format, for Patrons are available HERE

We have reviewed the following 4K UHD packages recently: Barbarella (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Last Picture Show (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Man Who Knew Too Much (software uniformly simulated HDR), Rope (software uniformly simulated HDR), Frenzy (software uniformly simulated HDR), American Graffiti (software uniformly simulated HDR), East End Hustle (software uniformly simulated HDR), Three Days of the Condor (software uniformly simulated HDR), Witness (software uniformly simulated HDR), Fascination (software uniformly simulated HDR), Lips of Blood (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Others (no HDR), It Came From Outer Space (software uniformly simulated HDR), Don't Look Now (software uniformly simulated HDR), Rosemary's Baby (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Last Wave (no HDR), The Train (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Trial (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Walkabout (software uniformly simulated HDR), Black Magic Rites, The Night of the Hunted (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Rape of the Vampire (software uniformly simulated HDR), Gorgo (software uniformly simulated HDR), Akira Kurosawa's Dreams (software uniformly simulated HDR) The Man From Hong Kong (software uniformly simulated HDR), One False Move, The Tall T (software uniformly simulated HDR), Cold Eyes of Fear (software uniformly simulated HDR), Rules of the Game (no HDR), The Manchurian Candidate (software uniformly simulated HDR), After Hours, Rain Man (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Changeling (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Night of the Hunter (software uniformly simulated HDR), 12 Angry Men (software uniformly simulated HDR), Branded to Kill (no HDR), Picnic at Hanging Rock (software uniformly simulated HDR), Two Orphan Vampires (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Shiver of the Vampires, Drowning By Number (software uniformly simulated HDR), Serpico (software uniformly simulated HDR), Cool Hand Luke (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Seventh Seal (software uniformly simulated HDR), The Maltese Falcon (software uniformly simulated HDR).

The 4K UHD, Vinegar Syndrome audio defaults to a DTS-HD Master mono tracks in an English or the option of the German language. Screams of the tortured remain quite piercing even in the 1.0 channel without any responsive depth. The score is composed by Michael Holm - pretty much only known for Mark of the Devil and its sequel. The disc offers optional English (SDH) subtitles or English (German translations) - and is, like all 4K UHD, region FREE, playable worldwide. The two Blu-rays are region 'A'-locked and the 1080P feature also offers subs (as well as for non-English extras.)  

The 4K UHD disc has only the commentary by Michael Armstrong, moderated by Calum Waddell. It follows hidden attributes of production, challenges (who filmed what) as well as addressing the film's latter following and emergence as a 'cult' film. Armstrong trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was writing and directing films at the age of 22. His award-winning short, The Image starred David Bowie.

Vinegar Syndrome really load up on the supplements - many from the OOP 2014 Arrow Blu-ray but also a few new ones. The commentary by Armstrong, and Waddell is on the feature Blu-ray. Hallmark of the Devil gives us a dozen minutes with author and critic Michael Gingold (Ad Astra: 20 Years of Newspaper Ads for Sci-Fi & Fantasy) who looks back at Hallmark Releasing, the controversial and confrontational distributor that introduced Mark of the Devil to American cinemas. There is a 2013 Q+A with director Armstrong and over an hour's worth of Interviews with composer Michael Holm and actors Udo Kier, Herbert Fux, Gaby Fuchs, Ingeborg Schöner and 5-minutes of audio-only with Herbert Lom. There are Outtakes, Alternate German language title sequence, Radio Spot, a Galleries (archival artwork + images) and a trailer.

The new supplements include "Performing God's Work" - a new interview with director Michael Armstrong, "The Devil's Apprentice" - a new interview with actor Udo Kier, "Words of the Devil" is a brief guide to the screenplays of Michael Armstrong with lecturer and film historian Dr. Adrian Smith. "A Hell of a Place" showcases the locations of Mark of the Devil then and now. Repeated from the Arrow is Mark of the Times - a 47-minute 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 (author of Hammer and Beyond) and famed film critic Kim Newman. It gives a wonderful perspective on Mark of the Devil and the varied inputs are revealing.

The package has reversible cover artwork.

Vinegar Syndrome's
4K UHD release of "Mark of the Devil" is quite a remarkable package. They just keeping pumping out miraculous quality releases like a juggernaut. The 'Witch hunt' premise is always a fascinating one because of its egregious inequities and abuse of power - often resulting in death (not eight million as the film suggests but scholars presume the number as high as 40,000–60,000 were killed on the basis of various forms of 'witchcraft' indictment - evil spells, incantations or having intercourse with the devil.) It is said that at least half a dozen languages were spoken on set. Many of the beautiful European women in the film portrayed characters who were tortured (whipping, rack, fingers crushed or removed etc.) and sexually assaulted; gorgeous Serbian actress, singer and writer, Olivera Katarina played Milanka, Viennese Gaby Fuchs played Deidre von Bergenstein and green-eyed blonde Ingeborg Schöner was German and played the Nobleman's Wife. Nasty outcomes. Filming took place n an Austrian castle where witch-finding interrogations had occurred centuries ago. In fact the castle now served as a museum and its authentic torture tools were utilized in many scenes of "Mark of the Devil". The representation of the medieval European era is highly interesting here if you can stomach the, "Rated V for Violence", obscenities. Certainly quite a memorable horror film and, without doubt, the impressive Vinegar Syndrome 4K UHD is the definitive digital release. This may make some noise in our year-end poll. Fans should get this while they can.        

Gary Tooze

 


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