OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält aka Mark of the Devil aka Austria 1700 (1970)

Udo Kier! Awesome!

And it's a truly fucking Austrian movie. Holy crap, I am so proud of my country. And our mountains. Can you see those mountains? They're truly awesome mountains.

According to the imdb, this movie has been shot in "West Germany". That's not true. It has been shot in Austria - namely the districts of Salzburg and Niederösterreich (Lower Austria). I lived there for 16 years (in Salzburg, but part of my so-called family comes from Niederösterreich), I should know how the area looks like. And turns out I was right:

Castle Moosham, Salzburg, Austria

Mauterndorf, Salzburg, Austria

Krems, Lower Austria, Austria

- funnily enough, my (now dead) grandmother (from my mother's side) lived there, and I was there often enough. And it's just half an hour on the train to Krems (which I am speaking about).

This is Krems. Yes, most of the... place looks like this.

Mauterndorf is also a place I am familiar with, as is Castle Moosham. Sheesh. No wonder this movie looks so familiar.

A guy who raped a nun:

Being tarred and feathered? Cool. That's awesome. I especially approve of the gleeful expressions on the faces of those present.

Idyllic everyday scenes from rural Austria...

Witch burning (see above). Could have been more graphic, but alas, it's the 70s.

Now, get ready for... NARRATOR VOICE!

"In Europe, between 15th and 19th centuries, it is estimated nearly eight million people were convicted of heresy and executed by fanatical witch hunters, in order to save their souls.

Their deaths on the scaffold or the funeral pile was for them the release from agonizing torture which often lasted for years.

This motion picture shows three cases taken from authentic documents from the time when witch-hunting had reached its peak and can only give a slight idea of the cruelties of one of the blackest pages in the history of Man."

(Actual quote from movie - in fiery letters, no less!)

There seems to be a problem with wide-spread witchcraft (in Austria?!). The local witchfinder doesn't really want to cooperate with the two new arrivals (one of them is Udo K... I mean, Christian) who come with a letter from the Holy See, authorising them as well. To do... witch-finding.

Our Hero

(Believe it or not, but this actually is Udo Kier, about 4 decades ago. I actually said out loud "I don't believe it!" when I looked it up on the imdb. Then again, I could have guessed - after all, he has the eyes...)

Of course, the local witchfinder didn't really keep his books on witch-killing properly, so he wants his underling to make up proper manuscripts of the... "investigations", complete with confessions. So that everything looks alright to the annoying newcomers - who are nothing but heralds for the true problem to come: Lord Cumberland, some sort of really important witch-hunter.


Even if his underling has to write all night - something which I personally find hilarious, as I've spent many a night doing nothing but writing up stuff and then presenting it to an audience. If a female, sickly student can do it in 2008, a witchfinder's sidekick should be able to do so, as well.

This is how Evil Guys intimidate underlings to write stuff all night. Professors can do it with a glance and a "...I need it tomorrow."

Albino, the local witchfinder (remember?), takes a fancy to the young lady working at the inn he's staying at.

The girl. The one with the skirt, you moron...

His attempt to rape her results in a scar on his cheek, so he accuses her of witchcraft.

Boob-touching can result in...


I also want to draw attention to Hitler-Beard. I don't know if it was fashionable during the 70s to spout a Hitler-moustache, but damn me if I didn't laugh out loud when I first saw the guy sitting around. He's just there. He does nothing. I think he even says nothing.
You have to realise that, in Austria, whilst funny to some people like me who just have a weird sense of humour, anything WWII-related is somehow attached to a deeply rooted stigma - a taboo, practically. By merely cracking a Hitler joke on teh intartubes, I am technically breaking the law in Austria. We're very touchy about this subject, and very obsessed with it. In school, you're herded into a bus once your mind is able to be imprinted and influenced by the authorities and then driven off to Auschwitz, where you experience a day filled with mind-blowing guilt techniques.

Let me tell you something about Hitler Beard. I like to think that he was just hanging around the set, a curious, yet simple farmer with an oddly shaped, funny but socially awkward beard. The director saw him, and thought "ZOMG that's freaking hilarious - Hitler Beard!" ...and so, a legend was born.

By the way - we get cool torture scenes. Not really cool kinds of torture, but at least some.

The whole attempted rape - violence - accusing of witchcraft out of spite and revenge is a bit of a problem, because Udo Ki... Christian found the local witchfinder's underling (I call him "Chinny") trying to forge documents, AND he (Udo K... Christian) has taken a fancy to the girl as well. Apparently. At least he invites her over to dinner at his place. I take that to be an expression of ...emotion. And usually, he doesn't have any of that stuff. Emotion, I mean.

May I sleep here? Just... for one night...?

Man, this is going fast! She obviously likes him ("What is... your name?" - "...Christian..." - "...good night... Christian..."). As in... really likes him. Has the hots for him. Wants to do the nasty with him... you get the picture. Also, look at that face - if that isn't an inviting smile, I don't know what is.

Our beautiful heroine wakes up to the sound of drums - it's the messengers of Sir Cumberlain, and the accursed heretics brought with them.

As the story goes on, the local witch-finder is jealous of the budding relationship between his younger rival (Christian) and the young lady working at the inn (girl with name). So, what's a guy to do?

That's right. You accuse your desired girlfriend of witchcraft. Again.

As soon as Lord Cumberlain arrives, the music becomes... intense. Intense and dramatic. I congratulate the person who wrote it on the soundtrack - it truly is beautiful, and it manages to convey an additional sense of intensity to the scenes.

A problem arises when our local witch-finder Albino brings in a young, obviously tortured woman, who he accuses of various very witchy crimes (all of them really strange, weird and unbelievable). She was actually raped by the Lord Bishop, but that makes her even more of a suspect, so she's going onto the rack.

And then... of course... the young woman working at the inn. (Her name's Vanessa Benedict - the scriptwriter was nice enough to make them tell us her name legitimately during a ...hearing (?)) -Accused of having had intercourse with the Devil, making a pact with him and thereby rendering another man (we can just guess...) impotent. Lord Cumberlain doesn't want to deal with this case, and relegates Vanessa to the jail.

Christian expresses his desire to become a learned witch-hunter to his mentor, the Lord, and the topic of Vanessa comes up. Lord Cumberlain doesn't approve of Christian's feelings for her, stating that it's her witchcraft that makes him attracted to her.

We also get pretty girls in irons and with thumbscrews, actually smashing fingers.

Christian starts to see the ugliness of the church when he witnesses his mentor trying to make a convicted sorcerer sign over all of his belongings (= a lot) to the church in exchange for his life.

I have read quite my share of books about witchcraft, the inquisition, witch trials and what went on during the Dark Ages. However, reading about it is one thing. Watching it is an entirely different thing. For once, I don't masturbate to the Malleus Malleficarum. Or at least I haven't tried it yet...

...just kidding.

(Or not?!)

But these scenes are awesome. Never have whipped, abused females looked as good as in this movie (then again, it's my 2nd exploitation movie, so I can't be considered an authority on the subject...).

Man. That's so pr0n.

Especially with the sweet, vanilla sex scene afterwards (two random people we'll never see again, just there to provide us with softcore porn).

Aesthetic shots. But whereas it's morally totally okay for me to show graphic pictures of violene, I can't show you the sex scene. It would make this into a pr0n-blog (let's see how much weird google search results this will produce).

Albino (the local witch-hunter's name) notices naked nameless woman, he and his horde of edumacated idiots storm the room, he gets it on with her (implied rape), and his idiot underlings kill the guy she was doing it with first. Problem? Problem.

Now it gets complicated (Whoa there, cyn!, you say - a 70s horror flick with a complicated plot?! Slow down, slow down, this can't be true!), so bear with me: Albino's underling/secretary betrays his master's behaviour to Lord Cumberland as he is about to torture a young woman (the one who got raped by the Lord Bishop). For example, with ingenuous contraptions that are made to hold someone tight and secure. In case you want to rip someone's tongue out with a old, rusty metal thingie.

See? Told ya you could use it for that!

Lord Cumberland wants to relieve the witch-finder Albino of his duties due to the incident with the implied rape of a young woman, which turns into a heated argument, with Albino threatening to tell everyone that he is evil, rapes women and burns them out of fun. When he adds impotence to the list of crimes (huh?) he wants to accuse Cumberland of (of which Cumberland is mostly innocent, we can guess, but Albino isn't), the Lord Cumberland snaps and kills Albino by strangulation.

Christian happens to watch this - and his faith in god and the church is a bit... shaken, you might say.

"I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.", as Uncle Al would have said. Probably.

The interaction between Christian and Lord Cumberland gets increasingly strained with tension due to the murder the Lord committed. Cumberland reminds him of the fact that innocents get killed in their line of business. Morals and ethics all play a big part in this, as does the eternal question: Is it alright to kill for something that has to do with religion?

Interspersed throughout the movie and its actual plot (I still find it hard to believe that) are the torture scenes. Quite some of them. And for people like me, who know obscure stuff about torture methods, even the mere notion of "The Spanish Boots should convince him" makes me happy.

Of course, they serve a reason - they illustrate the cruelty and pointlessness of a religious system inherently flawed in its conception of "good" and "evil" and its ways of deciding which is which.

Some part of me, however, thinks that it's also exceedingly awesome.

I won't go into any further details, as I have already given some things away, but this movie delivers.

Torture, rape... you want it, you get it.

The pacing is just right - scenes float into each other in just the right way. There is a careful, measured element to the way everything works and interacts. This is storytelling well done.

The camerawork is, for a movie from 1970, outstanding. Granted, I know more 50s and 60s movies than 70s ones (that period seems to be the one decade that I somehow managed to miss out), so I don't have a reference point to what could be considered a standard for how good movies during the 70s have to look like, but it's very beautiful. They chose really good locations for shooting this film.

The acting is equally as good - especially our leads are outstanding. Udo Kier is brilliant as ever, especially in the later parts of this movie, and the beautiful Olivera Katarina portrays her character with full conviction. Herbert Lom, who plays Lord Cumberland, was a no-namer to me until I checked him on the internet and found out that he's playing Insp. Dreyfus in the Pink Panther movies that my dad always used to watch with me when they were on TV. Dad, posthumously: I don't know if you ever knew that this guy also played a woman-raping and torturing witch-finder, but he does it good.

And now let me dedicate a little bit to Reggie Nalder (born Alfred Reginald Natzick here in beautiful and decrepid Vienna, back when it was still the center of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which was about a century ago - see, horror movies can be educating!).

I was impressed with his role as the lecherous witch-hunter Albino. He is a great actor - and constantly, there was this nagging feeling back in my mind that I somehow KNEW his face. Turns out I was right: He played the vampire Barlow in the 1979 TV series "Salem's Lot", based on the Stephen King novel. When I watched that more than a decade ago, I was pissed off at how shitty the vampire looked. Herr Natzick, you ruined one of the few Stephen King books for me with your decidedly blue depiction of the vampire. However, you made it up with your role in this movie.

9/10 really not happy endings. Which maketh me happy.

Edit I: I also just notice how incredibly good-looking all of the somewhat important female characters are. They look naturally pretty - not the glamorous, glossy version of "good looking" we have come to expect from new movies made with a shiny cast of hot young actors, not the kind of looking good that is achieved by tricky use of lighting and make up - just plain, normal, good looking women. It's good to see that once in a while.

Edit II: Somehow, after the whole impotence thing got brought up in the movie, I constantly had the feeling that there was something more to it. A sort of sub-sub-plot, if you will. But check the timing of sayings like "I know who you are!", "I know WHAT you are!" and the word "impotence" and see for yourself. It was almost like a running gag... at least in my head. Ahem.