When I was very young I remember my dad being a fan of the novels of Dennis Wheatley (although my primary recollection is of the photographs of naked ladies on the covers of the pulp paperbacks), which is why - for the longest time - I was convinced I'd already seen The Devil Rides Out aka The Devil's Bride.
But then when it popped up on Talking Pictures TV (introduced by Caroline Munro, as part of its Cellar Club season of horror flicks), I very quickly realised I hadn't actually seen it at all.
Unfortunately, I also quickly realised I hadn't been missing much, and the film's reputation far exceeded the reality of a creaky Hammer Horror that had not aged well.
While the primitive special effects are par for the course in a film that's over 50 years old, it's the disjointed narrative of Richard Matheson's script and Terence Fisher's direction that really let this down.
And that kind of blew my mind as, prior of this, both those names would have been a sign of superlative storytelling attached to any other project.
Also the fact that this was an adaptation of a Dennis Wheatley novel and is well known as legendary horror icon Christopher Lee's favourite Hammer film meant I had very high expectations going in.
The thin story revolves around Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) and his friend Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene), who, worried they haven't heard from Simon Aron (Patrick Mower), the son of an old friend, pay an impromptu visit to his new country home.
They walk in on an international gathering of Simon's new friends, who Richleau - as a connoisseur of the occult - soon realises are actually a Satanic cult.
Unable to convince Simon to leave, Richleau and Rex kidnap him, but this sets in motion of chain of events that sees them racing around the countryside trying to thwart cult leader - and black magic practitioner - Mocata (Charles Gray).
On the positive side, I really liked how Richleau had a network of friends and relatives that he could call on for aid, but otherwise so much of the plot hinged on fortuitous co-incidences and lucky breaks, with the final confrontation being resolved by a literal Deus Ex Machina (with the emphasis on Deus).
Richleau appeared in 11 novels by Wheatley and there's definitely moments in The Devil Rides Out when you can see what a fascinating foil for the forces of evil he is meant to be.
It's just for the most part he's moving in and out of the narrative of the film at such a lick that it's difficult to really get a handle on the character.
Somehow the 98-minute film managed to simultaneously feel as though key moments were being left out of the plot and that there was only really enough story for an hour-long episode of a TV drama.
FILMS WATCHED: 10
NEW TO ME: 7