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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Eerie Midnight Horror Show

The Eerie Midnight Horror Show (aka Enter the Devil aka The Sexoircist aka The Tormented)
1974
Mario Gariazzo

Danila (Stella Carnacina) is an art student whose family members have some relationship issues to say the least. Even worse, she is seduced by a statue of Jesus, and then possessed by a demon. Danila proceeds to tempt and taunt anyone who gets near her. Doctors are unable to explain her behavior and physical changes, so a priest, Father Xeno (Luigi Pistilli), is brought in to help. But can even the good Father fend off the advances of the wicked Danila?

Artsy-craftsy
The director who would eventually bring us, Eyes Behind the Stars (1978), Mario Gariazzo, has made something just as confounding, but far more trashy. Originally released in the US as The Tormented, later it found more notoriety as The Eerie Midnight Horror Show with a nigh-litigious title and poster designed to trick/remind people about The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). How audiences reacted when confronted with a soft-core riff on The Exorcist (1973) with zero musical numbers and no transvestites from space is unknown. The movie has managed to garner at least a small cult following, thanks to a magic combination of sex, blasphemy, and good old fashioned Italian weirdness.

Whereas The Exorcist is remarkably reserved until it isn’t, The Eerie Midnight Horror Show just isn’t. Danila’s descent from art student to incubus starts off with her life already a mess thanks to her kinky swinging mother. One sex scene with a demon possessed statue of Jesus later, and we are off and running, as the film plods through endless scenes of Danila touching herself and others. The movie happily rips-off exact scenes from The Exorcist including a lengthy medical examination, and of course, a gallon of green vomit. Shooting some of the of the scenes in actual church, gives the proceedings a little more edge than they would have normally.

Hell has an amazing dental plan.
Code Red has produced a Blu-ray edition that is light-years ahead in quality over the innumerable dull looking prints that are available elsewhere. There is a fair amount of grain and some print damage here and there, but the colors look good and the blacks are solid. The sound is strong and clear if not exactly remarkable. You can only shine up a turd so much, but Code Red has made The Eerie Midnight Horror Show he shiniest of turds.

There are better Italian Exorcist rip-offs (Beyond the Door (1974), and far crazier ones (The Visitor (1979)). The Eerie Midnight Horror Show rests somewhere in the middle. It has a few compelling moments, and a gleefully sleazy tone, but they are mired down by a dull middle section. The film almost manages to save itself with a bonkers finale. Give it a look if you’re into possession films or Italian genre cinema, just go in with lowered expectations.


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