Nazis receive their comeuppance at the hands (and teeth) of some unusual castle residents in the Balkans in the Night Gallery segment “ The Devil is Not Mocked,” reviewed here.
“The Devil is Not Mocked” ***
Teleplay by Gene R. Kearney, Story by Manly Wade Wellman
Directed by Gene R. Kearney
Helmut Dantine as General von Grunn
Francis Lederer as the Master of the Castle
Hank Brandt as Kranz
Martin Kosleck as Hugo
Gino Gottarelli as the Radio Operator
Mark de Vries as the Machine Gunner
An older gentleman (Francis Lederer) tells his grandson a story from his past to illustrate to him why he should feel pride in his national and ethnic heritage.
As the story moves to flashback, two Nazi soldiers share an easy laugh as they relax in a recently conquered area of the Balkans, one shooting at the unseen howls of wolves. They are there along with a group of soldiers led by General von Grunn (Helmut Dantine), who has a low opinion of the Balkan residents he has been defeating, saying “they have shown their true colors” and mocks Serbs, Croat and Slavs as “stupid peasants.”
The General and his men arrive at a castle, which they believe to be housing the leadership of an underground partisan movement, intending to take it. To their surprise, they are greeted by a gentleman (the same gentleman who opened our story, but 25 years younger), wearing a cape, and saying with a smile and an outstretched gloved hand, “Gentlemen, welcome.”
“We’ve come to burn you out, don’t welcome me,” replies the General gruffly. He accused the master of the castle of being the leader of the resistance, which the gentleman politely denies.
Inside the castle, a sumptuous banquet has been laid out and awaits to be served to the General and his men. Servants see to his men’s needs. The General is highly suspicious of this but eventually agrees to sit down to the wonderful meal from his astonishingly gracious host.
As midnight approaches, we hear the sound of wolves’ howls outside. Then, at the stroke of midnight, there is a commotion in the courtyard outside. The sounds of wolves are stronger and there are gunshots and screams from the men outside.
The General’s lieutenant, Kranz (Hank Brandt), falls into the dining room, screaming and a snarling unseen thing pulls him back into the hallway, his fingernails leaving grooves in the floorboards as he is helplessly taken to a savage demise.
Now in a panic, the General takes his own weapon and fires into the courtyard at the servants, who are now wolves, devouring his men. “The bullets are useless, General,” explains the gentlemanly host, “If they were silver, of course, it would be a different story.”
When the General next looks at his host, he is shocked to see a transformation in his face: paler, red eyes, and most telling, fangs.
As he clutches the General’s throat, he admits, “if it’s any consolation, General, this is the headquarters of the resistance and I am its proud commander—Count Dracula.”
We then return to the present as the old gentleman concludes his story to his grandson by saying “and that is how your grandfather served his country in the great war.”
Some fine acting here, particularly from Francis Lederer who excels at projecting an air of old-world gentlemanliness and hospitality, which serves him well as he attempts to put his uninvited guests at ease until midnight arrives and the transformation of him and his servants begins.