99 min., 1974
Written by O. Hellman/Antonio Troiso/Robert Barrett
Directed by O. Hellman/R. Barrett
My rating: ★★★
A surprisingly forgotten exorcism film.
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So we begin with a whole bunch of candles and a naked woman tied to a table. Her face changes into that of a bearded man and then a woman runs away. We then switch to a man named Dimitri (Richard Johnson) driving his car and we hear a voice over by, who we are supposed to assume is, the Devil (Edward L. Montoro). He explains that he will keep Dimitri alive a little longer if he can make sure that a certain baby is born, and we hear this as Dimitri’s car goes over a cliff and freezes in midfall. We then meet the Barretts. Mother and father Jessica (Juliet Mills) and Robert (Gabriele Lavia) and daughter and son Gail (Barbara Fiorini) and Ken (David Colin Jr.). Robert is a “big” music exec and Jessica is pretty much a stay at home mom. Gail likes to carry around ten copies of a book called Love Story written by Erich Segal and little Ken likes to drink Campbell’s green pea soup from the can through a straw. Now Jessica is pregnant again and they aren’t really sure if they should have the baby, well kinda. As the pregnancy moves along Jessica starts to act very strange, almost like she is possessed. Is her baby the son of Satan or is there something stranger going on?
The acting in the movie is actually pretty sad, pretty much everyone just seemed really bored with their parts, but there were two that actually did a great job. First off was Richard Johnson. He just has a look about him that is pretty unsettling and then when he starts talking, especially towards the end, he just takes command of his role. The other is Juliet Mills. Holy crap was she just really great. They had her doing some really strange things that surprised me that she actually did, but it was when she had to switch from being possessed to calling for help that makes her performance so good. She can look extremely evil and then look completely hopeless. She was really great.
Now the effects were actually pretty good, but then again there really wasn’t anything that was over the top. There is a scene where her head turns backwards and that was nicely done, but most of the time it is just makeup and acting that are in action. Then again the floating scene was pretty cool too.
As much as I enjoyed this movie I also got really annoyed with it. As I already said Juliet Mills did some really strange things, including open mouth kissing a three year old and eating an old banana peel, but even as all these things are happening to her I just didn’t really care. The reason behind this is that she is a very unlikeable character. In fact all of the characters are pretty darn unlikeable. No one seems to really care about each other with an form of emotion beside disdain. On top of that, they never really focus on how Jessica’s possession is affecting the family. Again it’s like no one really cared about her. On the plus side is the use of sound in the movie. There are some creepy scenes that have a strange “breathing” sound going on, and it’s just really unsettling. Now in the middle is the actual soundtrack to the movie. I love the soundtrack, but it just doesn’t fit the movie at all. For all its problems it’s actually a pretty good movie, mainly for Juliet Mills.Have You Read...?