Film ID:
YFA 5686

THE HORLA

1971

Visitor Tabs

Description

This is one of several award winning films written and directed by Bill Davison with the Selby Cine Club.  This is a fictional work about a group of Satan worshippers and based on the works of Dennis Wheatley.  The movie was filmed in Moreby Hall, located between Selby and York.  The film got in to the Movie Maker’s Ten Best for the year, and later won the top award at the International ‘FantastiK Film Festival’ in Barcelona, having been translated into Spanish.

The film begins with church bells ringing as a red Morris Minor postal van delivers a package to a woman seated at home and reading a magazine.  She opens the package to find a pair of binoculars inside and a note stating, “Free day at the races, from an admirer.”  She looks through the binoculars, and as she adjusts the focus, there is another note saying, “4th victim,”.  Knives shoot out of each eye piece and stab her in the eyes.  A newspaper billboard for the News of the World declares, “Black Magic: how girls get snared in the web,” and “Cult claims 4th victim.”

The film then shows animated credits done in a thriller style, with Bernard Herrmann’s music from the opening of film Vertigo playing.

Titles:
Selby Cine Club Presents – The Horla
Laurie Marshall as Peter Darton
With, Audrey Clarke, Hilda Grange, Jill Marshall, Pip Cowling, Peter Jackson and Fred Grange as Cannon Everton
Production: John Smith, Dick Henson, Mick Hanley, Peter Clarke
Costume: June Watts, Jenny Haywood
Continuity: Ruth Jackson
Based on the works of Dennis Wheatley
Photographed and Directed by William Davison

A man rides up on horseback to ‘Wayland Hall.”  Using a voiceover, a man who has come to stay at the house relates how he is going mad with fear.  He writes down his thoughts into a dairy.  The man states that he is keeping the diary after arriving at the Hall three weeks previously to convalesce with his uncle, Cannon Everton.  

The film goes back to the time of his arrival as he arrives in a red Mercedes and is greeted in a very friendly manner by his uncle, Cannon Everton, and his wife.  He is given the freedom of the house and states that his first few days there were delightful.  The stables that are at the house where the local pack is kept are shown, and the man who keeps the pack (the horse rider seen earlier).

One morning he decides to follow his uncle around the grounds of the house during which he visits a neglected private chapel, once part of the Hall.  For the next two nights he is awoken by indescribable sounds.  One night he goes to investigate the sounds in the dark, aided just by a candle.  He hears dogs barking and he puts down the candle, as we hear Bernard Herrmann’s music for the shower scene from the film Psycho.  He plunges down some stairs in the dark, and his voiceover wishes that his sister Julia could be there to help him.  He is visited by a doctor, and he has no feelings in his legs although there appears to be no physical damage, becoming bound to a wheelchair.

Three days later he searches through his uncle’s study and finds his private documents.  He also finds a pair of binoculars, which he tries.  That night the sounds are louder and he goes looking for the source.  He goes under the stairway along a passage that leads to the chapel, where there is a fire blazing.  He goes inside, and watching from above he sees a group of people dressed in white gowns with hoods.  The leader is dressed in a red cloak with a swastika and a symbol of a beetle.  Looking through the binoculars he recognises the cross around the neck of the leader as being that of his uncle.  A young woman kisses the hand of his uncle, is de-robed and has her hands tied.  A baby is brought in and is placed on a bed, and then is stabbed with a knife in some sort of sacrifice ritual.  The young woman drinks its blood.

The next day as he decides that he has to get away, his uncle appears, knowing that he had observed the previous night’s ritual, and tells him of the four most powerful forces: earth, fire, water and air.  He states that Jesus had control of these, as demonstrated by his walking on water.  He offers his nephew membership of his group.  His nephew stalls for time, and then writes a letter to his sister for her to come and collect him.  He gives the letter to the stable man to deliver, but it is intercepted by his uncle, who gives him an ultimatum, either join the group or suffer the consequences.  He gives a demonstration of his powers by making all the spiders in the Hall flock to his nephew’s room, and soon his bed is covered in spiders.

His uncle returns the next morning to find out what he had decided, but was told that he would not join the group.  His uncle told him that as a result he would meet the Prince of the House of Satan, the Horla, and that by midnight he would be dead.

Later that evening the man is writing in his journal, again accompanied by the same soundtrack from Vertigo, with dogs barking in the background, wondering what to do to conceal the diary.  As he lies there waiting, the door opens and he is petrified.  The attack is shown through the eyes of his assailant, and the man is killed.  They come for his dead body, and his uncle’s wife puts the diary into the fire.

“To invoke the Devil is to dance with death.”  Dennis Wheatley

Title – SCC Production