PURE TERROR MONTH: Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974)

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his rock ‘n’ roll biographies, along with horror and sci-fi novellas, on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.

“Eh, you’ve seen one exorcist flick, you’ve seen ‘em all,” scoffs the B&S Movies surfer.

Oh, how wrong you are, you wee demon-possession babe in the woods.

There’s nothing in the post-William Friedkin horror oeuvre that will prepare you for this German rip-off. . . . Not Assonitis’s Beyond the Door. Not de Ossorio’s Demon Witch Child. Not Bosch’s Exorcismo. Not Gariazzo’s The Eerie Midnight Horror Show. Not Mickey “Mario Bava” Lion’s The House of Exorcism. Not Cascio’s The Return of the Exorcist.

None of these Italian and Spanish demon-possession soirées compare to the silver screen sleaze that is Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil. And you thought the Germans crossed the boundaries of bad taste with their Hammer Studios witch hunt rip-off, Mark of the Devil (1970)? And you thought The Eerie Midnight Horror Show threw Friedkin’s class and style out the window? Not even Tony Curtis’s pimple-on-the-neck-turns-into-an-Indian-demon-shaman buffoonery of The Manitou (1978) is up to the challenge of this X-Rated demon romp.

“I want to take communion, but not in my mouth, but down in my ‘hoo-hoo,’ you dirty nun ‘boinker,’” Magpie caresses her “triangle of death” before a priest. “When are you going to ‘screw’ your housekeeper,” she rants to Father Ed in an un-synced dub that makes Italian Giallos look in-sync.

Welcome to the X-Rated adventures of Linda Does Berlin, aka Satan’s Full-Frontal Lesbians School for Girls.

Our story beings with a Godspell-cum-Rocky Horror Show cast reject, aka a prostitute, walking down the street on a pleasant Ash Wednesday evening who launches into scenery-chewing hysterics at the discovery of an old man, Joseph Winter, crucified Jesus-style on the gate of her apartment building and . . .

Jump Cut! We’re in a record store with hot German chicks so we can meet ol’ Joe’s niece, Magdalena, who’s off to a party at her boarding school. . . . Now, if you know your Eurotrash cinema, you know the entire student body—even the headmistress and the instructors—at all-female boarding schools are red-herring “lesbians” because, well, all of the girls in Eurotrash-boarding schools are lesbians and up to some nefarious, bitchy deeds to torture the naïve innocent girl who just had a rich uncle kick-the-bucket, aka Joseph Winter.

. . . And cue the swarm of buzzing-house-flies SFX so people know shits-about-to-go-down. Ol’ Uncle Joe is sitting up in the morgue and, for whatever reason, this inspires Maggie to spaz n’ spider-arch and spew some rabies-foam and ruin the Lesbian School for Girls party. But that’s just plot piffle: We got ourselves two red-herring lesbians on the stairs giving us a “triangle of death” rub and a full-frontal rack at the 15-minute mark. What does this have to do with the plot? Nothing, it’s the ubiquitous and unnecessary “de Ossorio” lesbo-scene—so the director has a fantasy to jerk to after the day’s wrap.

Uh-oh. The eerie synth-music backing the buzzing flies . . . here we go. And Magpie is a-kung-fu fighting and trashing a kitchen and wants the school’s headmistress “inside of her.” Yes! Magpie’s gone full-frontal at 20 minutes with some invisible demon sex and Satan is going for some back-door action.

More buzzing flies . . . Mags has another episode and climbs a concrete wall like a spider monkey and takes a nap on top of ol’ Joe’s grave. Do we get a Carrie-style hand pop through the dirt? A Phantasm dwarf? It’s a dream sequence, right? Nope, she really did run away from the school to sleep on ol’ Joe’s grave. And on the way to take a cat nap on Uncle Joe’s grave, Mags hitched a ride and, big surprise, it’s time for the obligatory you-owe-me-for-the-ride rape gag so she can “wishbone” his legs . . . and rape him! Dick Hurtz, indeed.

Meanwhile, lamps and paintings are flying around on wires in the school’s attic. Why? Who cares! We have another full-frontal “triangle of death” rubbing alert at 31 minutes and Magpie’s off on another rabies-Tourette’s rant that puts Ms. Blair to shame.

Okay, I’m getting bored . . . cue the buzzing flies SFX. Now ol’ Magpie is on a McCambridge-PMS magnum opus to a priest and tearing through bibles like Jon-Milk Thor through a phone book. Will Mags kiss the priest and blow ‘em up like a water bottle (it’s a Jon-Mikl Thor thing)? Nope.

Now we’re in Exorcist II: The Heretic territory—even though that hasn’t been released yet to rip off—with the ol’ psychobabble-and-attach-the-electrodes-to-her-head-scene. Is it epilepsy? Tourette’s? Schizophrenia? Split Personality Disorder? Manic Depression? Why is no one listening to the priest? Eh, who cares? What’s up with the staircase lesbians? Are they drugging Magpie to steal Uncle Joe’s inheritance? Nope. Toss that red herring back in the water and just wait for a Paul Naschy-styled, out-of-left-field dues ex machina to appear.

So . . . the electrode-brain-scan hocus pocus tell us Mags needs some time in the county to ride horses and bicycles in a plaid mini-skirt and go-go boots to, you know, pad the film’s short running time. (This clever music video created with the film’s filler scenes—set to Cat Stevens’s “Morning Has Broken”—sums it up nicely.)

There are those flies, again. . . . Yes! Magpie’s going topless and picking up strange men in bars via pressing her nips into a windowpane. . . . Now, if I may interject for a moment: If ever the time comes when I see a woman pressing her ta-tas onto a windowpane and “wants me to give it to her now,” I just naturally assume the chick must have a demon rattling around inside of her—and I get the hell out of there . . . but this dude. . . . Yes! Full-frontal alert at 55 minutes and Magpie’s pitting two rapists against each other and one stabs the other . . . what the hell? She’s vanished into thin air.

La, la, la . . . more romantic bike rides in the countryside . . . friggin’ horses . . . a Table Tennis match with a romantic piano interlude? Okay, wait. Hold on! We may have a full-frontal moment here. . . . Nope. More horseback riding? What happened to the Table Tennis sex scene? Oh, wait! Naked piano playing and autoerotic asphyxia in the parlor. . . . Nope.

Now the cops arrested a burglar at ol’ Uncle Joe’s apartment whose babbling about the “man in black” who killed ol’ Joe. Why? Who? We’ll never know because “Joe” gave creepy-red herring-trench coat-burglar guy a push over a Hitchcockian-Vertigo stair railing at the police station. What does this have to do with the plot? It’s another red-herring tosser for the river.

Okay, so doctor dude at the psycho-chateau can clearly see Magpie is completely unhinged—devil possession de damned. Naturally, he jumps into the sack. I guess he didn’t hear the buzzing flies nesting in her Devil’s Triangle south of the 41st parallel.

Finally! We get to the Mercedes McCambridge-demon-voice-bed-flip-out scene of the movie so we can learn who in the hell this demon is and what this full-frontal lesbians excuse of a mess has to do with Magpie’s uncle and this red-herring burglar.

Welcome to the plot twist: Uncle Joe was frequenting prostitutes and his wife murdered him. So ol’ Uncle Joe, and Auntie Winter’s suicide soul, are inside our Magpie fighting each other and . . . okay, enough of that plot piffle. We have another full-frontal invisible demon rape scene at 1:15 with only seven minutes to go . . . well, whadda ya know . . . ol’ Joe, you sly-pedophile.

Are you following? Uncle Joe is the horny devil, doggy-style rapist. And all of Magpie’s mouthin’ foam moments—that was Auntie Winter. You got that? At least I think that’s what’s going on with this Euro-demon tomfoolery. . . .

Okay, so for a little back story to clear up this mess:

In the beginning of the film, during the initial investigation of Uncle Joe’s Ash Wednesday crucifixion, the headmistress of Magpie’s prep school told the detectives “how excited” Mags would be when it came time for one of her “visits” with Uncle Joe. Where do we file this uncle-niece incest insinuation? Is it a dues ex machina, red-herring, or MacGuffin incest? Someone please cue the random, Paul Naschy errant knight and out-of-left-field zombie attack. Will Mags use her demon-soul to resurrect the dead to attack the psycho-retreat? Nope.

And the flies are back so Magpie can set fire to the psycho-farmhouse and swing an axe and . . . one “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” later and . . . Magpie is spitting up a gummy fishing worm that turns into a baby garden snake. What the hell? Ladies and gentlemen: We have our Ruggero Deodato-denying-he-sliced-up-a-live-turtle-during-Cannibal Holocaust moment! Horny doctor dude just head-stomped a live snake! Call PETA. Alert the ASPCA!

Huh? We can’t file charges. The snake-evidence just vanished into thin air.

“There are things between heaven and hell,” so says horny doctor dude.

Yes, and there are things between one’s ass cheeks and the toilet.

For an alternate, less unhinged perspective on Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil, you can check out Sam’s take on it. Also be sure to read his reviews of the film that started the whole ‘70s Euro-demon enchilada, The Exorcist, and its sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. And where did all of this demon possession hocus pocus originate? Check out Brunello Rondi’s (Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle) Il Demonio (1963; The Demon) starring Daliah Lavi. Her spider walk exorcism scene (without wires) says it all; you won’t sleep for a week after watching it.

You want another totally inappropriate, blatant rip-off of The Exorcist? Then check out 1975’s The Return of the Exorcist.

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