Mark of the Devil II / Witches – Violated and tortured to death (1973)
Be sure I’m not complaining about 2,99 € for a DVD. But I also totally understand why it was that cheap. The full play option is damaged by a scratch. This means I had to watch the movie chapter by chapter, including returning to the main menu 5 times. Also, the dutch subtitles can’t be turned off; in any language. (Not that there was such a big choice… I took English for my personal amusement.)
First of all, compliments. In 1973, it was by far not the norm to have a real good looking main cast – former Emanuelle star Erika Blanc, in this particular case. Usually, you can’t help finding fashion or haircut funny if you watch 70ies movies; but Countess Elisabeth von Salmenau would still count as a real beauty these days. Obviously, she has red hair and maybe she just reminds me a lot of Jean Grey.
Anyways. The Count von Salmenau, his wife and 6 years old son Alexander witness a witch trial when travelling home. The Count interferes and ends up getting killed in a fight with witch hunter Balthasar von Ross, who has governour and council under his control. Soon he accuses and imprisons a young nun who babysitted Alexander, with the final goal of tormenting the Countess for being critical about witch trials.
It gets a bit confusing, but in the end, we have the following people accused of witch craft:
Alexander von Salmenau – accused of being the devil’s child
Elisabeth von Salmenau – accused of being the mother of the devil’s child
The nun Clementine – accused of bearing the devil’s child (after being raped by a prison guard)
The priest Melchior – accused of being a sorcerer after forging an official protest in order to free Clementine
And the following people somehow involved in the story:
Another nun (mother of the order) – talking the priest into forging the document
A super ugly prison guard/torturer – raping all prisoners; but refusing to torture the priest for a confession (It totally makes no sense at this point; 2 scenes ago he raped a virgin nun but now feels it is wrong to torture a man of god…)
The witch hunter and his helpers
You can already imagine that this story isn’t rocket science. Actually, it also makes not much sense, but at least it doesn’t get boring. We take a short trip into exploring the visually less interesting kinds of medieval torture (ice water, briefly an iron maiden sort of thing, stretching, whipping, glowing metal) during this movie, before we reach the rather senseless highlight.
It ends as follows:
Clementine and the priest are about to get executioned. For no given reason, the witch hunters grant the priest mercy and kill him by sword. During this execution, a messenger from the emperor shows up to announce that all executions will not be carried out, and witch trials are no longer legal. He gets knocked out by an angry mob, and the priest dies. Next, they wanna burn the nun on the stake. But seeing a storm is coming, they also hurry to get the Countess and her son to the execution suite. While the nun burns, the big storm already comes and – dramatic! – the flames die when she dies.
Somewhere else, at least far enough away to show no signs of a big storm, the super ugly prison guard rapist decides – without knowing any of the events above (imperial messenger, divine big storm) – to let the Countess and her son go, give them a chariot and some food, because he wants to make up for his sins.
Well, yeah. There’s no great acting involved. The story is extremly predictable, and brings neither surprises nor visuals that would make up for the lack of story, sense and talent.
Famous last words: If you watch it for a historical education about witch trials, there’s nothing anyone can do for you. Being that misguided is beyond help. If you watch it for nude witches in a prison, you’ll be majorly disappointed. If you watch it for graphic torture scenes – same. If there is a reason to watch it? I’m not sure. Maybe extreme boredom, or curiosity. At least, a combination of both did the job for me.