Set in London and the south of England in 1929, the story finds Nicholas, Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee), investigating the strange actions of the son of a friend, Simon Aron (Patrick Mower), who has a house replete with strange markings and a pentagram. He quickly deduces that Simon is involved with the occult. Nicholas de Richleau and Rex Van Ryn (Leon Greene) manage to rescue Simon and another young initiate, Tanith (Niké Arrighi), from a devil-worshipping cult. During the rescue, they disrupt a ceremony on Salisbury Plain, in which the Devil (Baphomet) himself appears.
They escape to the home of the Eatons, Marie (Sarah Lawson) and Richard (Paul Eddington), friends of Richleau and Van Ryn, and are followed by the group's leader, Mocata (Charles Gray), who has a psychic connection to the two initiates. After visiting the house to discuss the matter and an unsuccessful attempt to influence the initiates to return, Mocata forces Richleau and the other occupants to defend themselves through a night of black magic attacks, ending with the conjuring of the angel of death. Richleau is able to repel the angel, but it kills Tanith instead (as once summoned, it must take a life).
His attacks defeated, Mocata kidnaps the Eatons' young daughter Peggy (Rosalyn Landor). The Duc has Tanith's spirit possess Marie in order to find Mocata, but they are only able to get a single clue, from which Rex realizes that the cultists are at a house he visited earlier. Simon tries to rescue Peggy on his own, but he is recaptured by the cult. De Richleau, Richard, and Rex also try to rescue her, but they are defeated by Mocata. Suddenly, a powerful force (or Tanith herself) controls Marie and ends Peggy's trance. She then leads Peggy in the recitation of a spell which visits divine retribution on the cultists and transforms their coven room into a church.
When the Duc and his companions awaken, they discover that the spell has reversed time and changed the future in their favour. Simon and Tanith have survived, while Mocata's spell to conjure the angel of death has been reflected back on him. Divine judgment ends his life and he is subject to eternal damnation for the blasphemy of summoning the angel of death. Nicholas de Richleau comments that it is God to whom they must be thankful.Christopher Lee – Nicholas, Duc de Richleau
Charles Gray – Mocata
Niké Arrighi – Tanith Carlisle
Leon Greene – Rex Van Ryn (dubbed by Patrick Allen)
Patrick Mower – Simon Aron
Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies – Countess
Sarah Lawson – Marie Eaton
Paul Eddington – Richard Eaton
Rosalyn Landor – Peggy Eaton
Russell Waters – Malin
John Bown – Receptionist
Yemi Ajibade – African
Ahmed Khalil – Indian
Zoe Starr – Indian girl
Willie Payne – Servant
Keith Pyott – Max
Mohan Singh – Mocata's servant
Liane Aukin – Satanist
John Falconer – Satanist
Anne Godley – Satanist
Richard Scott – Satanist
Peter Swanwick – Satanist
Bert Vivian – Satanist
Eddie Powell – The Goat of Mendes (uncredited)
First proposed in 1963, the film eventually went ahead four years later once censorship worries over Satanism had eased. Production began on 7 August 1967 and the film starred Christopher Lee (in a rare heroic role), Charles Gray, Niké Arrighi and Leon Greene. The screenplay was adapted by Richard Matheson from Wheatley's novel. Christopher Lee had often stated that of all his vast back catalogue of films, this was his favourite and the one he would have liked to have seen remade with modern special effects and with him playing a mature Duke de Richleau.
The A-side of British rock band Icarus's debut single, "The Devil Rides Out", was inspired by the advance publicity for the film of the same name. Though the song does not appear in the film, the single's release was timed to coincide with the film's premiere, and the band themselves were invited to the premiere.
Reviews of the film have been widely favorable. It currently has a 93% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
[The film] sustains flavor and atmosphere in beautiful color photography[...]. Under Terence Fisher's direction [...] the first 20 minutes are dandy, as a steely aristocrat, played with suave dignity by Christopher Lee, tries to outwit the evil ones[...]. This civilized counterattack [...] and some realistic dialogue, steady the action until a flaring, flapping climax[...]. Aside from Mr. Lee, the acting [...] is much too broad. Still, [...] "The Devil's Bride" does hold together, and superstitious moviegoers could do a lot worse.
Director Terence Fisher has a ball with this slice of black magic, based on the Dennis Wheatley novel. He has built up a suspenseful pic, with several tough highlights, and gets major effect by playing the subject dead straight and getting similar serious performances from his capable cast. Christopher Lee is for once on the side of the goodies.