This film will turn your world upside down. Never have I experienced the like which is probably Argento’s biggest influence on Suspiria & Inferno with huge crazy set pieces and colourful dialogue which takes you on a journey then leaves you mid trip, only to be offered a new direction with some dangerous characters. I feel like I’ve just watched Lynch’s Lost Highway backwards.
The plot involves Lisa (Played by the delightful Elke Sommer) who arrives in a beautiful Italian town on a tourist trip. After some mesmerising moments looking at a devilish painting her world begins to spin, she is lost in the back streets only to meet up with a ventriloquist (Telly Savalas) who reminds her of the painting. Then she’s outside of a church, she stumbles and faints and the next thing we know, she’s possessed. From her possessed state we get flash memories or dreams of another life, one where she is to marry a charming yet spooky young chap with a magical gothic mansion and a possessive old mother. She’s put off when he shows her his former darling, now a skeleton in his bed, but this doesn’t stop the young chap as he suffocates our heroin and the pair join the corpse on the bed. All the while, the ventriloquist is making appearances with dolls of people she has met along the way, some die is shocking scenes. So Lisa (Sommers) is still possessed in a hospital. A priest tries his best with her, but finds it difficult to resist the devils trickery.
The film is amazing to watch. It’s quite something else really with so much going one, so much un-conventionalism and some shocking plot devices. All this, and it’s shot amazingly with scortching performances all around. Mario Bava is a legend, but he really is a remarkable film maker, breaking boundaries and never taking the easy route. This shows his ability to create, not only a film, but a work of art.
Interestingly, House of Exorcism is a re-edit of one of Bava’s earlier films, with the possession sequences dropped in to cash in on the Exorcist thing. I’ll be taking a look at Lisa and the Devil in a few weeks to compare the two.