Eye of the Devil
Despite all the bad luck that plagued Eye of the Devil, it still stands as a remarkably stylish and unusual entry in the field of occult horror films. Most critics didn't appreciate it at the time of its release because they felt that such distinguished actors as Deborah Kerr, David Niven, Flora Robson, and Emlyn Williams were too good to be wasted in this type of genre film. Seen today, the excellent casting is one of the film's strongest assets along with Erwin Hillier's arty cinematography.
The unusual plot, which could be considered a precursor to The Wicker Man, another occult thriller that achieved cult status in the seventies, stars David Niven as a wealthy vineyard owner who begins acting strangely after his grape crop fails for the third year in a row. His wife, played by Deborah Kerr, notices that there are plenty of other things amiss on the estate as well. For instance, there's a sinister young man (David Hemmings) who hunts doves and his creepy sister Odile (Sharon Tate) who could be a witch. And of course, it's hard to ignore that weird group of hooded men filing through the woods - which leads Ms. Kerr to the conclusion that her husband is destined for some horrible fate. You know, she's right!
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Producer: Martin Ransohoff, John Calley
Screenplay: Robin Estridge, Dennis Murphy (based on the novel Day of the Arrow by Philip Loraine)
Cinematography: Erwin Hillier
Music: Gary McFarland
Cast: David Niven (Philippe de Montfaucon), Deborah Kerr (Catherine de Montfaucon), Donald Pleasance (Pere Dominic), Flora Robson (Countess Estell), Emlyn Williams (Alain de Montfaucon), Sharon Tate (Odile), David Hemmings (Christian de Caray), John Le Mesurier (Dr. Monnet), Edward Mulhare (Jean-Claude Ibert).
by Jeff Stafford