Lisa And The Devil (Italy 1973)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/26/18
Director: Mario Bava
Cast: Telly Savalas, Elke Sommer, Sylva Koscina

Lisa (Elke Sommer) is an American tourist who gets separated from her group and ends up getting lost and confused in a strange European town. She manages to hitch a ride, but car troubles force her and the other passengers to spend the night at a creepy old mansion. The residents of the mansion are convinced that Lisa is the reincarnation of the count's mistress, and her life becomes a waking nightmare of paranoia, persecution, and twisted visions. Is it all just a dream, and does Lisa even exist in the first place? Only the deranged and sinister butler, Leandro (Telly Savalas), knows for sure.

I can't say that I'm a fan of Mario Bava, and to be honest, I only picked up this movie as a gag gift for my sister. It's a colorful and beautifully filmed production, although the soft focus on Elke Sommer is irritating and distracting. The lighting and dreamlike atmosphere are very spooky, and Ms. Sommer does an excellent job of being terrified and confused. The story is vague and constantly challenges the viewer to question what is real, which makes it nearly impossible to follow. The opening credits are very slick, but the ending suffers from one of the worst matte paintings I've ever seen. Sylva Koscina is a gorgeous distraction, but it's Telly Savalas who ends up stealing the show with his disturbing presence and unhinged performance. Unfortunately, the pacing is glacially slow and the baffling story is incomprehensible, but fans of weird Italian horror will probably find it enjoyable. As an interesting side note, a crudely re-edited version called "The House Of Exorcism" was released in America in 1975 as a lame attempt to cash in on the popularity of "The Exorcist" (1973).