The Antichrist
Directed By Alberto De Martino
Released: 1974
Starring: Carla Gravina, Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, and Remo Girone
Running Time: 112 minutes
DVD Studio:
Anchor Bay Entertainment

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The bitterness over her paralyzing childhood accident causes Ippolita Oderisi (played by Carla Gravina) to question her faith in God. After witnessing a terrible scene at a religious festival in which a young man jumps to his death, Ippolita begins to behave strangely. She takes offense to her widowed fatherís, Massimo Oderisi (Mel Ferrer), romance with Greta (Anita Strindberg), a younger woman and takes an interest in Satan. During hypnosis treatment, Dr. Marcello Sinibaldi (Umberto Orsini) uncovers that in a past life Ippolita was burned at the stake for heresy and demonic possession. Without warning, Ippolita is possessed by the devil and it is up to Father Mittner (George Coulouris) to save her soul.

Alberto De Martino (
Formula For A Murder) directs this stylish and underrated Exorcist clone. Full of vibrant colors (red and blue), wild editing, and a trashy atmosphere that even the original Americna film avoided like the plague, The Antichrist actually works. The high-reaching visual effects fall short of the budget by a few million lira and things get especially silly when Carla Gravina flies out the window and back. The script is smart while it is tackling questions of faith and religious zeal but it really craps out when the gobbledygook about reincarnation kicks in.

An all star Euro-cast from Hell graces the screen. Mel Ferrer (
The Pyjama Girl Case) is barely aware of Mr. Oderisiís problems and is a tad too aloof while his own daughter battles with Satan for her soul. Psychiatrist and hypnotist, Dr. Marcello Sinibaldi, is played by the studly Umberto Orsini (Violent City) while the hard-working Alida Valli (Suspiria, Lisa And The Devil) plays Irene, the sympathetic maid to the Oderisi family. Mario Scaccia (Perfume Of The Lady In Black). And keep your eyes peeled for supporting roles from the gorgeous Anita Strindberg (Case Of The Scorpionís Tail) and the not-so-gorgeous Ernesto Colli (Torso, Autopsy).

Bad wig and body double aside, Italian actress Carla Gravina (in one of her only horror film appearances) puts in a superb performance in The Antichrist. Able to do more than just scream obscenities at priests, Gravinaís Ippolita is run through the ringer. An engaging actress, Gravina doesnít falter for a moment during her wild and dynamic performance. Not a very glamorous role to be sure as Ippolita spits up green bile, is covered in boils, and has inappropriate relations with a goat (thankfully implied and not shown).

Diehard fans of
The Exorcist will want to check this one out to see just how influential William Friedkinís film was all over the world. I highly recommend The Antichrist
for Italian horror buffs for the splendidly garish sets and the leering eye of cinematographer Aristide Massaccesi (AKA Joe DíAmato). Although the film is a blatant and somewhat silly cash-in on a successful film, thatís all part of its charm. Think of this as "Exorcist Lite" with some clumsy moments of sincerity and a few insanely sacrilegious images thrown in for good measure. Oh, that poor goat. Thereís no way that was consensual.