Been watching (and enjoying) The Exorcist TeeVee show on SyFy over here in Blighty so thought I'd review something that featured an exorcism.
Well that was to the point wasn't it?
L’Anticristo (AKA The Tempter, The Antichrist, Besatt. 1974-ish).
Dir: Alberto De Martino.
Cast: Carla Gravina, Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, George Coulouris, Anita Strindberg, Alida Valli, Mario Scaccia and Umberto Orsini.
Tragic I know and her sad story gets even worse when you realize that on top of this she's cursed with wiry, pube like ginger hair.
Joining the story ten years on from the aforementioned accident we discover that just about every doctor in Italy (including Giovanni Frezza and Dr. Butcher MD no doubt) have given her the once over and not a single one of them can find anything wrong with her spine (her haircut is another story however) yet she can barely lift herself out of her wheelchair and has to stand with the aid of a cane.
Did I say poor girl?
Sorry I obviously meant lazy cow.
Massimo, fed up with being made to feel guilty over his daughters indolence (oh and killing her mum whilst pissed) decides to take her to a wee church deep in the countryside where a frighteningly butch (and bright blue for someone unknown reason) statue of the Virgin Mary is reputed to have miraculous healing powers.
Surrounded by a throng of scarily praying pikeys and filled with the love of God Ippolita attempts to stand only to almost immediately fall flat on her (harsh) face.
But why would she think such a thing? I hear you cry.
Well there in hangs a tale.
You see it appears that she's recently been having fairly blasphemous - and incredibly saucy - thoughts.
Mostly about a really pervy painting of Jesus, resplendent with a huge 14 inch cock and balls leatherier than Sean Connery's manbag.
And how do we know this?
Well apart from me being the one that painted the Jesus picture Ippolita has confessed as much to her uncle Brian who, it turns out, just happens to be the local bishop (another top turn from everyones favourite drunken Oirish man Kennedy).
And if that wasn't enough, she's also taken to having nasty violent thoughts about her dad's new squeeze Greta (big boned Strindberg from Fulci's classic Lizard in a Woman’s Skin).
Turns out that Ippolita is insane with jealousy at the mere thought of her father showing affection toward anyone but her.
It's like The Jeremy Kyle show but with better teeth.
Or Christmas Day with my family as I call it.
It's not long (thankfully - there's only so much angry cripple tripping I can take in one film) before nearly all of Ippolitia’s family (and even the maid) are mightily pissed off with her frankly childish behavior and come to the conclusion that she needs locking up.
Luckily her uncle knows a good psychiatrist, the smooth handed Dr. Marcello Sinibaldi (Orsini the camp as pants 'star' of Diary of a Cloistered Nun) whom he invites to a big bash at the family villa, the idea being that he can check out lil' miss mentalism without her being any the wiser.
As well as drink as much free booze as he can handle.
Unluckily for them - but a huge surprise for us it must be said - Ippolita has psychic powers enabling her to see right through the pairs plan.
But not alas their clothes.
In a change to her normal angry reaction to every little thing she doesn't throw a stroppy fit for once.
And why is this?
Well it seems that she's vaguely interested by Sinibaldi’s claim that her paralysis is really psychosomatic and that he can cure her of both it and her mentalism with a wee dose of hypnotic regression.
Let's be honest here he is quite dreamy.
Anyway after the obvious pretend you're a sheep and eat this onion it's really an apple gags something interesting happens.
For the first time so far in this movie I hasten to add.
You see, it turns out that one of Ippolita's ancestors was burned at the stake for witchcraft some 500 years ago.
Well I say witchcraft but according to the foggy flashback it was actually for eating a toad and - I kid you not - rimming a goat.
We get to see it played out on screen.
And in glorious technicolour no less.
Unluckily the uncovering of this deep, dark family memory inadvertently triggers a case of demonic possession.
Ain't that always the way?
Starting with the obvious (you know talking in a deep, sexy voice in various languages - or is that just the abysmal dubbing?) she soon moves onto more impressive stuff like psychokinesis - well, she moves some plant pots and a chest of drawers - and, most amazing of all, walking!
And how does she use her new found mobility?
Well as anyone in this situation would, she uses it to sneak out of her villa to seduce (then snap the necks of) young Germans.
Sinibaldi tries his best to think up a reasonable scientific explanation for everything that's going on but is frankly stumped whilst Irene (the aforementioned nanny/maid/hired help) secretly phones the local expert in the art of folk magic Big Tony (The Perfume of the Lady in Black's Scaccia - no me neither).
Pity then that everyone in the movie is a devout Catholic meaning that they just stand tutting and umming at the very mention of so called 'magic', reckoning that any such power can - and will - ultimately be linked to the devil himself.
The upshot of this is that all of Tony's flashy words and wizardy tricks are totally useless.
You do have to wonder why they really bothered with this plot thread.
Maybe Mario Scarria owed the director some cash?
Finally, the bishop (who's obviously taken so long to get to the phone because he can only move diagonally) rings professional demon fighter for hire Father Jeff Mittner (The Woman Eater's Coulouris).
A man whose credentials, it appears, seem to consist of being the only person in the film who's not only seen The Exorcist but also made extensive notes, seeing as the movies ever building climax is lifted almost wholesale from that film.
But if you're gonna steal you might as well be honest about it.
Can he sort out the pesky demon once and for all?
Cue a frighteningly long and wordy exorcism complete with a floating lady, vomit, seductive glances, green facepainted nipples and an utterly terrifying Tefal headed, Rod Stewart wigged Ippolita swearing.
But being a cut-price Eurohorror The Exorcist isn't the only movie to be violently buggered for ideas here as - in a shocking turn of events - the film suddenly becomes a (very) cut rate Rosemary’s Baby, with the shocking reveal that the true purpose for Ippolita’s possession is for her to carry the baby Antichrist.
In her tummy that is, not in a Moses basket.
Will the might of Catholicism be enough to avert the birth of the devil himself?
Seriously, what do you think?
Alberto De Martino's fantastically crass retread of The Exorcist (to name but one 'influence') boldly goes where other cheap Euro' rip-offs fear to tread.
Whereas most cash-ins cut back on expensive effects, name actors and the like L’Anticristo positively revels in it's cut price glory, featuring as it does not one but two Hollywood has-beens and some brilliantly conceived (and not to mention insanely bonkers) stand out set-pieces.
Kennedy and Ferrer give us more ham than a butchers market and in an attempt to outdo Linda Blair floating above a bed, L’Anticristo has Gravina not only rising out of her wheelchair, but gracefully gliding out of an open window before entertaining us with an airborne dance number.
But the movies greatest scene must be when Ippolita's possessed right hand floats across the room and starts to strangle the white wizard man.
Unfortunately the film is scuppred by DiMartino’s desperate direction — you can almost feel his ultimately futile attempts to make an honest to goodness scary movie collapse around him.
Luckily he had the amazing Aristide Massaccesi working as his Director of Photography to help save the day.
And who the hell is Aristide Massaccesi?
Well, as regular readers will already know he's none other than the cinematic god also known as Joe D’Amato.
So it's probably him we have to thank for the classic devil worshiping scene, featuring as it does kinky naked orgies, the eating of a toad and the aforementioned goat/tongue/arse interface.
And for this we salute him!
Oh, and De Martino, you did not bad yerself big fella.
Top-notch thrills for lovers of devil movies, harsh ginger birds and goat sex everywhere.
Which is probably just me thinking about it.
An essential purchase (if not a wholly legal one).