• In The Devil’s Garden

    Released by: VCI Entertainment

    Released on: September 11, 2012.

    Director: Sidney Hayers

    Cast: 1971

    Year: Suzy Kendall, Lesley-Anne Down, James Laurensen

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    The Movie:

    Directed by Sidney Hayers in 1971, In The Devil’s Garden starts off with a surprisingly strong scene in which a high school age girl named Tessa Hurst (Lesley-Anne Down) leaves school for the day. She cuts through the woods on her way home and is sadly raped by an unseen assailant. Understandably distraught by the events, her parents and the authorities put her under the watchful eye of a psychiatrist named Greg Lomax (James Laurensen) who hopes to get some information out of her regarding the assailant but it’s to no avail, much to the dismay of Detective Velyan (Frank Finlay) who fears the rapist will continue his attacks.

    With the school’s student body now forbidden by the police from going into the woods, the art teacher, Julie West (Suzy Kendall), offers to drive some kids home. When another girl, Susan (Anabel Littledale), goes missing they head out to look for her but soon she and some passengers wind up getting her car stuck. As they’re stuck, Julie sees someone in the rear view mirror of her car carrying Susan’s corpse, someone that she believes to be the devil! While the cops obviously think she’s a bit off her rocker, Julie, with the help of a reporter, decides to set a trap for the fiend using herself as the bait.

    Fairly well paced and just sleazy enough to count, In The Devil’s Garden won’t rank up there with the best that British horror has to offer, but it’s pretty entertaining and fairly well made. Owing more to the Italian Giallo films made around the same time than the output of Hammer or Amicus, the film was also known as Assault (the title it was released under on DVD in its homeland).

    Suzy Kendall, probably best known to horror fans for her work on Dario Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, makes for a fine leading lady here. The film more or less follows her as she does what she can to uncover the killer’s identity. We get a few of the expected red herrings along the way, with the plot pointing at various times to different characters to keep us guessing but it’s not that much of a stretch to figure this one out before the big reveal. The rest of the cast also do fine here, with James Laurensen and Frank Finlay both managing to give their characters some interesting screen presence.

    The British locations are used effectively here, the opening scene in the woods having an appropriately dire and desolate look to it. We know as Tessa heads out that she’s in for trouble based solely on what the camera shows us about her surroundings – she’s there alone and this is not a nice place for a girl like her to be. The camerawork is nowhere near as flashy or stylish as a typical Giallo would be but it gets the job done and ultimately this is one worth seeking out.


    The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen image is flagged for progressive scan but shows some mild trails here and there indicating that maybe this is a PAL conversion? Either way, it’s perfectly watchable. Colors look quite good and if the image is soft, it appears to have been shot that way. Only mild print damage is noticeable, the source elements used were in good shape. Not a perfect transfer but sufficient.

    The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track sounds fine. No issues with hiss or distortion and the levels are well balanced. Things are a bit flat here and there but that likely stems back to the fact that this is an older film made on a modest budget than anything related to the disc itself. An optional Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix is also included but it’s thin and doesn’t pack much additional depth.

    There are no extras on this disc outside of a static menu and chapter selection options.

    The Final Word:

    A moderately interesting British thriller with a couple of memorable set pieces and a good cast, In The Devil’s Garden isn’t going to win any ‘best release of the year’ awards but it’s watchable enough. Fans of British horror and suspense will appreciate this one, it’s a pretty good movie and worth seeking out even if the disc is completely barebones.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Clive Smith's Avatar
      Clive Smith -
      I watched this via the Brit DVD a couple of weeks ago and had been wondering if this was an upgrade. Doesn't seems so. The film's got some great snapshot-in-time locations and feels quite Brian Clemens-y at times but the score drives me nuts. Little baby David Essex has about 30 seconds of screen time.