Mark of the Devil 666: The Moralist 1995 Review
Mark of the Devil 666: The Moralist 1995
Directed by: Jason Paul Collum
Starring: Karen Dilloo, Mick Wynhoff, Tami Klamm
*This is only available on VHS and the quality is quite awful. My apologies for the screen shots. I struggled to get a picture of the masked killer
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Jason Paul Collum has gone from being a school boy fan of movies like Jaws and Halloween to becoming one of modern horror’s most respected auteurs. He has well over ten credits as a director, producer and writer and has made a name for himself as one of the genre’s undeniable prospects. As is the case with many directorial success stories, it all began with a low-grade slasher movie. Actually with Mr. Collum, it’s more of a no-grade slasher movie, but we’ll get to that later on.
Mark of the Devil 666: The Moralist is – believe it or not – the sixth chapter in a series that started back in 1970. But I would call this more of a second cousin twice removed than a close relative to the original, because the first Mark of the Devil was a West German production. I’m not exactly sure what ‘special favours’ Moore home video had to do to blag the rights to call this a sequel to the aforementioned exploitation classic, but suffice to say that The Moralist shares * no * similarities whatsoever with the rest of the series and instead borrows platitudes from the more popular hack and slash genre.
A ritualistic maniac sporting a Graduation Day-like fencing mask is murdering people that he believes are responsible for society’s downfalls. The Moralist – as he becomes known – uses methods from horror movies like The Omen, Alice Sweet Alice, Black Christmas and Driller Killer to dispatch his victims gruesomely. Detective Mark Hastings (Mick Wynhoff) joins up with ambitious journalist Meredith O’ Brian (Karen Dilloo) to solve the case of the bizarre maniac. As corpses continue to pile up around the city, the pair soon begins to realize that the killer could be closer to them than they expected. With every clue that they uncover, the couple put their own safety at risk and the maniac starts getting uncomfortably near to O’ Brian. Will they be able to put an end to the Moralist’s wicked games? Or will they be the next bodies found strung up for public display?
If you were to rate the budgets of horror movies on a scale of one to ten, then something like Unhinged would be a six whilst The Moralist could barely achieve a score of minus ten. J P Collum admits that the film only cost $450 to make – an amount of money that some of us spend during an adventurous weekend. So keeping that in mind, I honestly expected the net result to be a horrendous waste of shelf space with no redeeming qualities as per usual of no-budget slashers. (Night Divides the Day anybody?) But in all honesty, a sprinkling of talent goes a very long way and Collum’s flair just manages to save this from utter mediocrity. The murders are surprisingly grisly for the level of funding and the plot is extremely twisted and intriguing. For a total unknown, Karen Dilloo did an extremely good job in the lead. Amusingly enough, she hated the box art, which she thinks made her look too slutty! The screenplay just about manages to keep you guessing and the final showdown is remarkably tense considering the long-winded build up. I actually spoke to the director via email and would recommend that he should maybe consider a bigger-budgeted remake if he’s reading?
Unfortunately, Collum had no control over the final edit, which may explain the sloppy garden sheer and super glue-like work from the distributors. Moore video are also to blame for the absolutely horrendous soundtrack that swaps irritatingly between tedious death metal and bemusing country music continuously throughout. The movie sold extremely well for its weak circulation, and the director was offered Mark of the Devil VII as a reward for his work. He instead decided to produce 5 Dark Souls – another fairly intriguing splatter flick, which I haven’t seen as of yet. Perhaps the funniest thing about Mark of the Devil 666 is Mark Wynhoff’s hilarious ‘haircut’. The mullet was a style that should never NEVER have lasted as long as it did. But when you’ve got big enough cojones to grow a pony tail too, then perhaps you should be rewarded with some kind of prize. An Academy hairstyle award perhaps?
It took me literally years to hunt this ‘gold dust’ cycle entry down. But I’ve got some good news for all slasher addicts; the movie can now be purchased directly from the director’s personal site. I must warn you that if you aren’t forgiving enough to allow for minimal budgets, then you’ll probably hate The Moralist. However the chance to see the roots of one of modern horror’s upcoming talents was certainly something that I just couldn’t miss. Jason Collum himself hates this movie and is the first to criticize its numerous flaws. But if you give it a chance with expectations lowered, you may just find enough creativity there to redeem the purchase price. One and a half stars is indeed a credible rating for a movie that cost so little to make. Now Mr. Collum…how about that remake…?
Final Girl: √√