Eye of the Devil (1966)

eye of the devil poster 1966 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Innovative for the time, good cast

Lots of build up for a so-so ending

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Eye of the Devil

Studio:   Filmways Pictures

Genre(s):   Horror

Release Date(s):   July 1966 (UK)/September 6, 1967 (US)

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

eye of the devil deborah kerr cult members

Such a lovely day for a run in the woods. The cult guys make me run faster!

Philippe (David Niven) has been called back to the failing vineyard of his family and is followed by his wife Catherine (Deborah Kerr) and children against his orders.  There, Catherine finds that whole village is involved in a strange mystic cult like organization led by the head priest Pere Dominic (Donald Pleasence) and enforced by Christian de Caray (David Hemmings) and his sister Odile (Sharon Tate).  With Catherine being targeted by the cult, Catherine questions if she can act fast enough to save her family…and how deep the cult’s influence goes.

Directed by J. Lee Thompson, Eye of the Devil (originally titled 13) is a psychological-horror witchcraft thriller.  The film is based on the 1964 novel Day of the Arrow by Robin Estridge.  The film faced multiple production problems and delayed release.  The film was received to a mixed reaction from critics and a strong foreign box office.

eye of the devil sharon tate david hemmings

We’re kind of like a Game of Thrones brother and sister

When I was little I remember thinking there were a couple types of horror.  Pop-up horror (where a monster jumps out at you and scares you) and a deeper horror.  Eye of the Devil falls into the deeper horror where it is very situational and you want the characters to stop…but they just keep getting deeper into the mess.  Eye of the Devil isn’t a perfect film, but it is an interesting one because it predates a lot of similar films.

The film’s story feels derivative, but it actually is pretty inventive.  It has aspects to the story that weave into films like The Wicker Man and Rosemary’s Baby in particular.  The idea of a sacrifice to save the land is ancient but in a modern context new.  The story doesn’t quite push it far enough, and unlike The Wicker Man, it feels like it chickens out on the ending.  It leads to the expected the result and there isn’t a twist as you’d expect.

The filmmakers had to reshoot a lot of the film.  Kim Novak was originally slated to star but an injury during filming forced her withdraw from the film and Deborah Kerr was brought in for the replacement.  The cast is quite strong with David Niven as the sacrificial lamb and Donald Pleasence as the creepy priest.  The film’s release came after the rise in popularity of David Hemmings and is one of Sharon Tate’s few film credits before her murder.

eye of the devil david niven david hemmings donald pleasance

So….did you not get the “all-black” memo?

The movie has a nice style to it.  Visually it is a pretty appealing black-and-white movie that gives the film an older feel (which works in with the older style story).  The movie is filled with a lot of imagery, but it doesn’t quite feel that the imagery pays off as nicely as it is set-up.

Eye of the Devil is a nice, under-seen horror film.  If you’ve seen a lot of horror, it feels a bit generic in the story and presentation, but it actually was modern in its timing.  It feels very classic and has that foreign feel to it that is often necessary to carry a modern witchcraft story.  Eye of the Devil is worth seeking out if you are looking for something “new” in a “vintage” horror film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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