Directed by Mario Gariazzo [Other horror films: Play Motel (1979), Schiave bianche – Violenza in Amazzonia (1985)]
Having not seen this one in what has to be at least six years, I was taken aback by how out there the beginning was, only to be disappointed by the last two-thirds of the film as it went down a predictable route.
Made following the success of The Exorcist, L’ossessa (known under plenty of alternative titles, including Eerie Midnight Horror Show, Enter the Devil, and The Sexorcist), actually starts off in a moderately unique and creepy fashion. Stand-outs sequences include a rather brutal (and weird) crucifixion of the main character, along with quite a suspenseful scene on some stairwells, that sequence perhaps being one of the more tense 70’s scenes I’ve witnessed in a while. The wooden carving coming to life near the beginning was off-putting also.
There wasn’t much gore to speak of (even though the crucifixion was brutal, there wasn’t tons of blood present), and special effects overall were pretty poor, but at the same time, I think they were able to work with what they had to craft the type of movie they set out to.
Stella Carnacina did great as the main character, and you really felt for her at times. Her parents, played by Chris Avram (Bay of Blood perhaps being his biggest work in the genre) and Lucretia Love, both did well, despite somewhat bad dubbing for the pair of them. Luigi Pistilli, who has been in not only Bay of Blood, but other Italian classics such as The Case of the Scorpion’s Tale, The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire, and Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, went all-out as the exorcist priest, and despite not having appeared until near the end of the film, made one of the best impressions. Finally, playing the devil, Ivan Rassimov (Planet of the Vampires, All the Colors of Dark, and Man from Deep River being his best-known films) probably laughed evilly a bit too much for my liking, but still obviously had fun with his performance.
The dubbing, as I touched on earlier, was pretty atrocious (I prefer subtitles when possible anyhow). It wasn’t helped by the fact that the audio quality for the most common print of the film can come across as awfully muddy at times. Still, it didn’t entirely cancel out some great lines of dialogue about how “there’s no such thing as incest,” and “masochistic tomfoolery.” Much of the dialogue was a hoot, despite the poor dubbing (or maybe because of it), and in a way, that added a bit of charm. Nice also were some of the Etruscan tombs, which were rather threatening.
L’ossessa’s biggest problem is that the final two-thirds of the film are pretty predictable and aren’t really all that interesting, especially compared to the wild ride we got for the first thirty minutes. Certainly, once the possession is clear, there’s not really a whole lot to look forward to (trying to seduce the priest attempting to exorcise her was fun, but not enough to cut it). I liked it more this time around than when I first saw it, and it can occasionally be both amusing and creepy, but I can’t see it being one I go out of my way to watch in the future.