The Devil and Miss Sarah (1971)

Article 3759 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-17-2011
Posting Date: 11-29-2011
Directed by Michael Caffey
Featuring Gene Barry, Janice Rule, James Drury
Country: USA
What it is: Horror western

A farmer unexpectedly finds himself taking on the responsibility of bringing a wanted criminal to justice when the sheriff that had him in custody dies. But the criminal is believed to be the devil himself, and he casts a baleful influence on the farmer’s beautiful wife, who appears to have a sixth sense about the future. Can he take the criminal to justice before she succumbs to him…?

Though it’s a little slow-moving on occasion, this interesting and offbeat horror western is pretty entertaining, much of it due to a great performance from Gene Barry as the outlaw with a real gift of gab as well as hypnotic powers. Whether he really is the devil himself or not is an ambiguity that the movie plays with till the very end, though it does ultimately settle on one or the other. Janice Rule is also quite effective as the wife; she says so little that we really don’t know what she’s going to do before it’s all over. The movie was filmed in Utah, and the shots of the desert really give us a sense on how a western location can be used for horror purposes; the scenery is both beautiful and unsettling. The movie seems to have an uneven reputation, but I quite liked it.

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