A top-notch cast keeps The Mephisto Waltz (named after a piano piece written by Franz Liszt) from feeling too much like a made-for-TV offering, and the score is chillingly appropriate for this story of Satan worship and body-swapping. Curt Jürgens, Barbara Parkins, and Jacqueline Bisset are all perfect in their respective roles. Although Alan Alda did a fine job with his character, I wished they had cast someone sexier. I had a hard time seeing him as the object of (the womens’) lust.
“They say the truth is, once you’ve had one of them [a Satan-worshipper]
nothing else will quite satisfy you.”
The movie never lets you forget the timeframe in which it was filmed: the interiors of the Clarkson house are quintessential 1970’s California Pacific Coast style (i.e., Play Misty for Me, The Sandpiper); a “swinging party” scene complete with animal-masked partygoers (and one human-masked dog); stylized cinematography and dream imagery; and plenty of bell-sleeves, floaty caftans, polyester, turtle-necks, flared pants, and halter dresses. It’s also a kinky, amoral, eerie, creepy, and atmospheric little thriller.
The mask worn by the black dog is that of William Shatner,
the same style mask worn by Michael Myers in the original Halloween (1978).
It should come as no surprise that Barbara Parkins has been a personal favorite of mine (she plays the femme fatale here like she was born to it).
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