The Anti-Christ (Blasphemy, The Tempter) Directed By Alberto De Martino, Starring Carla Gravina (1974).
Up jumped the devil right into YouTube and on my TV in fucking HD! Hot Diggitty-Dog! I've been chasing this horned beast for at least 5 years (why didn't you just rent it on Netflix you may ask, because every time I change my plan I get a DVD that's scratched to shit and unplayable or on save forever).
Skunkape didn't even know how much I've pined over seeing this or he might've made fun of me and warned me not to bother with this Exorcist rip off!
Right from the beginning we're plunged head first into a nightmarish baptism of sacrilicious frenzy with snake handlers, people doin' the hokey-pokey and Roman Catholic gyrating, what the fuck is happening? Slow down movie, we've got 2 hrs to go! Behind a gaudy candle lit prison is a pure white Saint with knives sticking out of her chest and Gene Simmons type dragon boots. The dialogue is in Italian but from what I can detect, religious wackos bring their handicapped relatives to be healed by the female saint with "magical" powers, but what they get instead is death and demonic possession. Someone should probably make a sign like "Stay Clear of the evil haunted witch lady who will condemn your soul to hell" or something snazzier to deter tourism.
The first victim is the scrawny Richard O' Brien looking derelict from Torso who is definitely possessed by Satan (or the white bitch saint), he spews up pea soup and hurls himself onto a rock (his super imposed image looks all chroma keyed in). Joe D'Amato actually did the cinematography-- Eccezionale!!
|This will be my grand finale of Doin' The Time Warp|
Carla Gravina the lead actress is very cute and sports a Rosemary's Baby style Vidal Sassoon hair-do. She plays the paralyzed demonic possessed Ippolita--that name reminds me of Neapolitan ice cream! It's like the film makers are simultaneously ganking the whole devil genre. Oh yeah and guess who plays her father, Mel "I'll appear in almost any Italian genre flick for a buck" Ferrer. I'm glad that Thunderbird puppet-looking smoe is here for some reason. Alida Valli who played the cat-haired German witch in Suspiria and the surgeon's assistant in Eyes without A Face oddly enough is a welcome sight. I gotta mention the actor who plays Ippolita's (Gravina) brother, who looks like a gay version of the Martin short evil man child character Clifford!
|Are we going to Dinosaur World or what bitch?|
The sets and production design are seriously awe inspiring in their over the top way! Ippolita is having anger and faith issues because her father replaced her recently mother, who was recently killed with another woman too quickly, they were involved in a car accident that made the daughter wheelchair bound. I love that she's in this strange environment where these Catholic priests all believe in therapy and want her to immediately seek para psychological help from a hypnotist, it's very unusual. The Dr. shows up at a party and automatically lies her down and hypnotized her to dredge up regressive memories. There's this reoccurring image of a crushed headless frog (that looks pretty real). The hypnosis reveals that in a past life she was a persecuted witch condemned by The Inquisition. Just like Ghostbusters mentions the underlying theme in The Tempter is "past life experience intruding on present time". This film is overtly Catholic and though it's patterned after The William Peter Blatty text it's a different take on the same subject matter and more about re-incarnation and the ghost of Ipp's former self interrupting her current one. She's also driven by the anger at her father played by Mel Ferrer who at one point has sex while she masturbates herself into another dimension (it's hard to describe, just watch to see what I'm talking about). Even though this and Abby were released the same year, neither of them really infringe on anything seem in The Exorcist that is besides demons, green vomit and gratuitous religious iconography.
|Burgle Kutt makes a special guest appearance|
This movie hates frogs as Gravina drifts away into a satanic ceremony, a goat headed priest squashes a poor amphibian all over her body, sticks a goat anus in her face and she licks up frog blood. After the nightmare, which also includes her being mounted by the devil priest, she seems much happier. Chas described this part in the catalog as a "Cool orgy in Hell scene with the kissing of many goat butts". There is an actual scene where they show a goat anus, I can't imagine a focus group decided that's what was missing from other Satanic horror films, SHEEEEESSSSHHH!
|I'm here for my audition on Goat Butts Beach 86|
I think the nightmare gives her literal cougar powers of seduction because right after she mates with a long haired geeky teen she then twists his head off like a Jeffery Combs From Beyond "Ginger Bread Man". Also the Devil makes her able to walk, so obviously everything's cool right? No, not really! At the dinner table she spouts obscenities at everyone and has green foam (that looks like Kale toothpaste) around her mouth. She eats like a ravenous animal, says "cocksucker" a bunch of times in a Mercedes McCambridge voice and can't seem to be able to swallow food (maybe this is the demon's diet plan). The levitation part looks really silly! At one point her disembodied hand strangles this poor guy who tries to evacuate them pesky demons to no avail. She even feeds him her barf and says "Lick It!" (Yuck! Don't you hate when that happens)?
|EEEK, Tiny Tim's got a boner!|
In the mid 70's, the race to be the first demonic possession movie was on, this came out 1 year after Max Von Sydow Linda Blair brainwarp was released and Abby came out the same year. Why all the hub bub about The Exorcist when you had your choice of head spinning Catholic hysteria films? All of them are jokey where as the William Friedkin one still has an effective grip of fear, I can't explain why but it's the reason I never re-watch it with fond memories, if anything it's a chore because it twists your emotions in a cryptic unpleasant way. Here the levitation part reminds me of the "I Love to Laugh guy from Mary Poppins. Once the Jesuit pro of this film shows up to fix Ippi, it's pretty funny that he resembles hixploitation actor Dub Taylor from Poor Pretty Eddie and Little House on the Prairie. Morricone does the unusually drab and yet pipe organ heavy score.
It's hard to believe but the director was later responsible for MST3K fodder like Puma Man and Miami Golem. Gianfranco Clerici, the writer of tons of Fulci and Deodato films including Cannibal and Jungle Holocaust, House on the Edge of the Park wrote this. As far as possession films go this one is pretty entertaining and more original than I expected. The ending is a little too fanatical and basically God comes in and saves the day, Oh well, I guess if they went full rip-off it would've been to blatant. Check it out while it's available on Youtube or buy the Anchor Bay DVD.