• Devil Incarnate, The



    Released by: Mondo Macabro
    Released on: May 8th, 2018.
    Director: Jacinto Molina
    Cast: Paul Naschy, Sara Lezana, David Rocha, Ana Harpo, Blanca Estrada
    Year: 1979
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    The Movie:

    Paul Naschy (or, Jacinto Molina if you prefer) wrote, directed and starred in this 1979 feature set in 16th Century Spain. Here we meet Leonardo (Naschy himself), a devilish troublemaker who kills the first person he comes across and steals his clothing. From here, he sees a young man named Tomás (David Rocha) escorting an older blind man to a stream. The blind man is quite abusive to young Tomás, so when he asks for water Leonardo instead takes the cup and fills it with his own piss. The old man drinks it, and his relationship with Tomás is quickly finished.

    With nowhere else to go, Tomás accompanies Leonardo as he travels across the countryside where they encounter a few men and women – each of whom is changed (and not necessarily in a good way) but their meeting. A few carnal encounters and an illegitimate offspring later, eventually Leonardo – who is quite literally the devil incarnate as the title states – learns a thing or two himself about what it means to be human.

    A remarkably grim but darkly comedic picture, The Devil Incarnate (known as El Caminante in its homeland) is pretty twisted stuff. It’s clear that Naschy put a lot of himself into this, and it isn’t hard to read the whole thing as a thinly veiled metaphor for his thoughts on the film industry, but it’s fascinating stuff. Those looking for traditional shocks in the form of the types of monster movies Naschy remains best known for might be taken aback by this – it is most decidedly not a horror movie despite the Satanic presence of the lead and some very dark, twisted elements – but open-minded viewers who can appreciate this type of thing should find a lot to like here.

    Naschy plays Leonardo as a complete bastard. We’ve no sympathy for this devil as he coerces a crippled woman into having sex with him and then carves an upside down cross on her ass. He’s a horrible person who does horrible things, sometimes to people who deserve it and sometimes to those who don’t. Naschy plays the part really well, that knowing gleam in his eye central to the frame when the red lights bath Leonardo just before he gets up to know good. Subtle, the film is not, but it works. Naschy shows quite a bit of versatility here, particularly towards the end of the movie where things change quite drastically for his character. Supporting work from David Rocha is also solid.

    The visuals are pretty strong here. Lots of really interesting camerawork and beautiful colored lighting adds mood and atmosphere to the whole thing, while Angel Arteaga’s score helps in this area too. This is a weird film, to be sure, but it’s done really well and in the end, an impressive if atypical effort from Naschy.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Framed at 1.66.1 widescreen and presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition from a brand new 4k scan of the negative, The Devil Incarnate looks excellent on Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro. The disc is nicely authored, showing no compression problems and the image looks to be free of any noise reduction, edge enhancement or artificial sharpening. Skin tones – which are plentiful in the film – look lifelike and natural, never too pink or waxy. Detail is typically very strong, texture as well, and there’s good depth here – save for some scenes that are intentionally lit or shot in such a way that things look a tad soft, but that’s the way the movie was made and how the movie should look. The image is also nearly pristine, showing no print damage outside of a small white speck now and again. The picture quality is great – no complaints at all!

    The Spanish language LPCM mono track, which comes with optional English subtitles, is fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and nicely balanced and the score sounds strong. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or sibilance and the subtitles are easy to read and free of any obvious typographical errors.

    Extras start off with an audio commentary by Troy Howarth which is a mix of trivia and critical analysis. He makes the case for this being Naschy’s best film and explains why he feels that way but also offers up what he can about the different cast members that have appeared in this and other films, observations on Naschy’s tendency to frequently cast himself alongside very pretty – and often very naked – young women (“It’s good to be the king”), how the easing of censorship laws in Spain after Franco’s departure allowed for much racier films to be made there, stylistic flourishes, certain set pieces that stand out. He also makes the case for the stock footage inserts used in the film, talks about how and why this stands as one of the filmmaker’s more personal efforts and quite a bit more. It’s well researched and delivered – quite fast paced as well.

    From there, we move on to a ten-minute long introduction to the film by the late Paul Naschy himself wherein he speaks about the more personal aspects of the film and the pride that he had for this particular endeavor. In a new fifteen-minute with actor David Rocha we learn how he first met Naschy and of the friendship that they formed, what he learned from the man during his early days in the business, and his experiences working on this picture with him. From there, dig into a ten-minute interview with Naschy’s son Sergio Molina, who shows off some great pictures from old family photo albums and offers up a load of fun stories about his father’s busy years during the boom of Spanish horror cinema. From there, Naschy’s other son, Bruno Molina, provides a guided tour of Naschy’s study and home that runs just over five minutes and which is also quite interesting.

    Aside from that, the disc also includes the Mondo Macabro promo reel, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    The Devil Incarnate really is one of Paul Naschy’s more unique and interesting films. It’s far from the straight up horror pictures that he’s known for, it’s more of a weird black comedy, but it’s quite well done. Mondo Macabro’s Blu-ray debut for the film looks and sounds excellent and is loaded with extras. Anyone with an interest in Naschy’s work should consider this essential.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!