EDITOR’S NOTE: We originally watched this movie back on October 23, 2020 and we’re beyond excited that a new blu ray has been released by Kino Lorber, featuring a brand new 4K restoration by StudioCanal, Raising Hell, a featurette with director/co-writer Alberto De Martino and composer Ennio Morricone, new commentary by Lee Gambin and Sally Christie, a TV commercial, trailers, English and Italian audio and the alternate The Tempter credits. You can get it now from Kino Lorber.
The beauty of Morricone is that for every big budget or quality film that he did music for — The Hateful Eight, Days of Heaven, Once Upon a Time In America — you can find scores he did for movies that aren’t as well thought of, from giallo like What Have You Done to Solange? and A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin to outright ridiculous films like Butterfly and, well, this movie.
And I love it.
I love every single minute of it.
Ippolita (Carla Gravina rocking a Mia Farrow haircut) is a paralyzed young woman with major issues, all because her mother has died. So her shrink does what any psychologist would do in 1974: he sends her brains back in time to remember when she was a witch getting killed during the Inquisition. That ancestor takes over and before you know it, our heroine is screwing and destroying men. It’s time for this movie to stop ripping off Rosemary’s Baby and start being The Exorcist!
Also released as The Tempter, this was directed by Alberto De Martino, who also made the amazing poliziotteschi/giallo hybrid Strange Shadows In an Empty Room and the downright weird superhero film The Pumaman, not to mention Miami Golem.
There’s a decent cast, with Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy, George Coulouris, Alida Valli (Miss Tanner!), Anita Strindberg (Your Vice Is A Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Umberto Orsini (Jean from the Emmanuelle movies) and Mario Scaccia (The Perfume of the Lady In Black) all on hand.
There’s way more nudity and sexuality than the majority of American The Exorcist clones, but this is Italy and Aristide Massaccessi is the director of photography. That’s Joe D’Amato, in case you didn’t know, so when Ippolita says cock numerous times and there’s a lengthy Satanic orgy, one of the few I can think of set to tunes by Morricone (that said, he did so many films* that I’m sure there’s at least one more key party for the First of the Fallen set to his music), you can just say, “Hell yeah, the Italians might be all repressed Catholics, but they sure know how to make a Satan movie.”
The scene in the ruins at the end? That’s the kind of stuff my dreams are made of. More movies should be this unabashedly out of control, you know? Another great example of this level of craziness is another De Martino ripoff that somehow has great Hollywood actors in it, 1977’s The Omen Xerox film, The Chosen, also known as Holocaust 2000.
*Notable Morricone soundtracks that I love include Danger: Diabolik, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Short Night of Glass Dolls, Who Saw Her Die?, The Fifth Cord, My Name Is Nobody, Autopsy, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Orca and so many more.