The Antichrist (1974)

No, not a revisit to Lars von Troll… sorry, Trier’s ghastly piece of nonsense, but a rather earlier if no less ghastly piece of nonsense of similar title. Don’t know much about director Alberto de Martino, other than that his IMDB entry suggests his career followed much the usual Italian genre director route—peplums, espionage thrillers, horror, action adventure, etc—and that one of his films (Puma Man) is currently in the IMDB Bottom 100. The somewhat more immediately infamous Joe D’Amato was cinematographer on this film, which is a knockoff of The Exorcist of quite remarkable shamelessness. Where it expands (I don’t think “improves” is quite the right word) upon its model is the sex quotient. Our “Regan”, a young lady called Ippolita, has been paralysed by childhood after a car accident that killed her Mum; she is unimpressed by her old man taking on a new younger woman. A psychiatrist tries a bit of past life regression, which causes her to be demonically possessed by the spirit of a prior incarnation who was a Satanist. Or something. She walks again (the paralysis having been psychosomatic all along) but the cure is a long way off. All of this is astoundingly trashy stuff, dressed up with special effects that must’ve looked ropey even in 1974, and in some way it’s probably better for the fact that it’s unabashed exploitation (not to mention Exorcistsploitation), I don’t think anyone involved could have pretended with anything like a straight face that it had any Redeeming Social Value. I mean, there’s a Satanic orgy involving the rather revolting sacrifice of a toad and the, er, servicing of a goat (oh what Google searches this post will attract now…). We’re not dealing with high art here. It’s quite risible on many levels, but watching it very late at night I will confess to finding it kind of entertaining; if I’d seen this at Mu-Meson Archives back in the days when I could still imbibe lots of alcohol, I’d likely have been blown away by it.

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