Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme



Following the international success of THE EXORCIST (1973), Italy jumped onto the bandwagon with a slew of inferior possession movies that included Alberto De Martino’s L’ANTICRISTO (The Antichrist), Sonia Molteni Assonitis and Roberto d’Ettore Piazzoli’s CHI SEI? (Who/Beyond the Door/The Devil Within Her), and Massimo Dallamano’s IL MEDAGLIONE INSANGUINATO (The Cursed Medallion). In common with Friedkin’s film, all featured a female in dire need of bed training, and a nasty habit of upsetting the local church with outpourings of expletives, and assorted displays of sexual deviance. Despite their director track records displaying varying degrees of success with horror/exploitation, it was Mario Gariazzo, a filmmaker more commonly associated with spaghetti westerns (GOD WILL FORGIVE MY PISTOL (1969), and AQUASANTA JOE (1971)), who managed to push the envelope of excess, resulting in several censor cuts in the USA and UK.

Originally released in Italy in 1974 with the title L’OSSESSA (The Obsessed), Gariazzo’s take on the theme has been subject to a number of retitled re-releases over the years attempting to capitalise on the cult flavour of the month, including THE SEXORCIST, ENTER THE DEVIL (not to be confused with Frank Q. Dobbs’ 1972 Satanic Texan cult shocker, of the same name), THE TORMENTED, DEVIL OBSESSION, and, to cash in on the ‘Rocky Horror’ craze, THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW.

The film, which we are informed is “based on a true story”, concerns antiquities restorer, Denila (Stella Carnacina), called to work upon a lifelike statue of one of the crucified thieves that accompanied Christ at the Mount of Calvary, housed in an abandoned 15th-century church, previously “deconsecrated” due to it being the site of “undisguised orgies”. Needless, to say it’s not long before the figure climbs down from the cross, and after swiftly tearing away Denila’s flimsy night-robe, rapes her whilst the room around them turns into a furnace. The figure is apparently an earthly incarnation of Satan (Ivan Rassimov), who takes over the body of his victim, causing her to seduce her father, avoid sacred objects, and display signs of unholy stigmata.

It’s hinted that Denila has been singled out for possession due to the depraved actions of her Mother (Lucretia Love) who indulges in sadomasochistic thrills with her lover (Gabriele Tinti) that include the delights of rose thorn thrashing. This scene, possibly inspired by Metzger’s THE IMAGE (1973), is often censored from western prints, and it’s fairly strong for an early 70s horror movie. Further nightmarish visions, involving nubile Satanic priestesses, bloody crucifixion, and the vomiting of bilious fluids, lead to the employment of self-flagellating Father Xeno, (played by veteran Luigi Pistilli, more widely recognised as Father Pablo Ramirez from THE GOOD, THE BAD, & THE UGLY (1967), and who is amazingly absent from most print credits) to perform an exorcism.

Garriazo, no doubt inspired by the naked charms of the likes of Stella Carnacina and Lucretia Love, scripted another western (IN NOME DEL PADRE, DEL FIGLIO E DELLA COLT for director Mario Bianchi), before focussing his lens on pistols of a different kind and directing a run of forgettable sexploitation films that included VERY CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE FOURTH KIND (1979), PLAY MOTEL (1979), and THE ATTRACTION (1987). The director returned for a brief flirtation with the horror genre in 1984, with the cannibal adventure AMAZONIA (aka The Catherine Miles Story), again, reputedly “based on a true story”, under the pseudonym Roy Garrett.

As 70s “sexy shockers” go THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW is pretty enjoyable, with a respectable amount of nudity and gore, to appease exploitation fans who enjoy derivative trash, served retro-style, and with god-forsaken English dubbing. It’s by no means a perfect print, grain is evident throughout, and, despite the clarity of the voices, the action on screen doesn’t quite run in tandem with the soundtrack, with plentiful background hiss in the opening sequences. Another problem involves an anomaly involving the titles appearing in non-anamorphic widescreen then converting to full frame for the remainder of the movie. Nevertheless, this budget release from Eclectic, is an uncut print of a neglected piece of Italian hokum, and is recommended to readers who aren’t expecting a quality presentation.

Carl T. Ford

 
Directed by Mario Gariazzo

English language

Italy / 1974 / 89 minutes.
Colour

All region. Dolby Mono
Original aspect 1.33:1 Full frame

http://www.electicdvd.com

THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (aka The Sexorcist)

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