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Monday, August 9, 2010

L'anticristo (1974) The Anticrist - Horror

The Antichrist (1974) - The movie starts with scenes of an Italian religious holiday, maybe the Feast of the Assumption. People are praying to an statue of the Mary the virgin mother. In the temple are many pilgrims including our lead character Ippolita Oderisi (Carla Gravina) a crippled young woman looking for a cure. She fails to be healed but instead is witness to a crazy looking man breaking away from his retainers and climbing the ruins outside, then jumping to his death.
We then learn that Ippolita is crippled in the accident her Father Massimo (Mel Ferrer) caused that also killed her mother. She is disturbed to see that her father is now romantic with someone working for the family. In her room she finds a picture similar to one worn by our earlier suicide, but instead of a gentle Jesus image the image is an angry looking demon Jesus with a large erect penis coming from under his robes. Disgusted she throws it into the fire only to see the fire vanish and a strong breeze to blow into the house. Was that the sounds of demons entering the house? Her brother Fillipo sure thinks so and immediately goes to her room and agrees to take her out to see Bishop Ascanio Oderisi (Arthur Kennedy). He does not believe her about the blasphemous image but resolves her of her sins. Good to have an uncle as a Bishop I suppose. Ippolita angry claims the devil has been clear to her that if she accepts the devil he will give her everything she has been denied by God. This with her losing the love of her father is truly disturbing her.

While performing a mass for her the Bishop sees the sacrilege of a sacrifice in the holy vestments. In discussing it with Massimo we are given the idea that faith is the key to having a relationship with God. that Ippolita is weak and they have concern that she is mentally unstable. They arrange for her to "run into" a psychiatrist and parapsychiatrist. Dr Marcello Sinibaldi (Umberto Orsini) comes to a party they put on and meets her. She is onto him from the beginning but she still agrees to spend time with him. She has no physical damage to her legs, so he suggest regressive hypnosis as a way to get to some trauma in her past lives that may be stopping her from walking now.

She agrees and we see the scenes of her present life when her father causes the accident that killed her Mother. We see a flash of another one of those sacrifices like in the Mass. Then her former life when she was a witch who burned at the stake. Sinibaldi interested in the past life wants to explore, and the Bishop shows him the papers that talk about the past life woman. She was a Nun with the same name who ran away and joined a sect of devil worshippers. He also tells the men that the past life personality could possess Ippolita.

Massimo is doubtful of curing Ippolita and discusses that with his fiancee Greta (Anita Strindberg). They choose not to tell Ippolita who is being cut in suffering having psychic visions of her father making love to Greta. Ippolita strips and there seems to be a stylish possession scene where the woman from the past life walks through a field of ritual sex by satanic cultist to an altar to have sex with a horned masked priest. This cut with Ippolita saying everything that the woman said. thus she pledges herself to Satan, again with the toad head sacrifice. I don't really understand why she needed to lick the goats ass but hey I guess that is how satanist do it. Then the priest mounts her and consummates the marriage to Satan. This scene so similar to the Satan rape scene in Rosemary's Baby. The cuts of Ippolita show her moving her legs while an invisible force fucks her.

Again Fillipo senses something is wrong in the house Is that the organ playing? He rushes to it as it plays itself, checking on his sister and finds she won't let him in. Now possessed she lays nude in the bed with full use of her legs.

Now she is out cruising the countryside looking to get full use of her newly animated body. She follows a tour of what appear to be students and seduces a young man. She awakes in a field and can't walk so we learn that the possession is not always on. Flash back to the student who is dead with his head turned backwards.

The family continues to hypnotize her and we learn more about the past life witch. We learn she begs for her soul to be saved as she burns but the priest do not appear to help her. Ippolita suffers through this in front of her family until brought back by Sinibaldi. He claims she is cured and can walk and so it is when she walks across the room. The family is happy with the results but she starts to act strangely. Suddenly she seems very possessed. Lights and wind and strange voices, moving things around the room, the demon shows its power only controlled by hearing church bells ring.

Massimo goes to the Bishop to try to get help, but he seems afraid to do anything. Ippolita continues to act out. She tries to seduce her brother showing her body to him and putting his hands on her body. Manipulating him she pretend to need his comfort but really tries to get some incest. The maid sees this and goes out to a man who can do an exorcism.

He agrees to come and confront the demon. He tries his tricks but is scared of the possession included are her floating in the air, out the window and back in another. He sees he is way out of his league and when the Demon allows it he flees for his life.

Again the father goes for help from the church. Until then he feels he must break up with Greta and send her away. Confronting his daughter, the demon, he tells her he will only be there for her. The Demon attacks him with furniture and verbally abuses him.Then using his own ascot chokes him close to death. Saved by Fillipo and Sinibaldi. The demon tells dad that she fucked Fillipo and is pregnant with his baby. WOW!

Finally Bishop arrives to do his part, bible in hand he plunges in. She shows her pussy to him and abuses him with his celibacy. She flings her legs wide to her uncle and says "Here is the devil." The praying starts and we have some things similar to The Exorcist. The battle continues with temptation and bravado on the Demon's part. The Bishop holds fast. Very similar to The Exorcist in its approach, and trying to create a counter argument with Dr. Sinibaldi the film creates a poorly executed dynamic of science versus religion. Because the science end was always pseudoscience the argument that opposed the ideas against each other never really holds.

Father Mittner (George Coulouris) the priest arrives to do the formal exorcism, it is such a rip off, with vomiting and wind and demon mischief. It is well done and the scenes are shot in closeup and with interesting angles that heighten the effect of the exorcism. When the demon flees out into the rain, the priest stays behind to finish his prayers. Followed by Fillipo and her Father, Ipposita runs to the The coliseum, inter cut with the scene of the crazy man who committed suicide. Massimo catches her and holds her to a large cross until the demon is finally vanquished. This includes Father Mittner announcing that the Antichrist will not be born.

This is film complex enough trying to tie the family dynamic, the science versus religion and demon vs girl storylines together and it mostly succeeds. The cinematography by Joe D' Amato uses red and blue throughout the supernatural and scenes but I can't say I saw a pattern of use that made any real sense. Still there were a lot of 1970's style effects that although are now dated were decent for the time in a foreign film. The music by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai is excellent with lots of strings and themes that run through the scenes. Particularly in the exorcism the music soars with the chaos. Director Alberto De Martino created a solid if derivative possession movie that is definitely worth the viewing.

Rating (6.1) Any rating over a 5 is worth a viewing, in the Zombiegrrlz rating I went and bought this film.

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