Demon, The / Il demonio (1963)

5.0 out of 5

Daliah Lavi, young yet obsessive, desires Frank Wolff who, upon promise of betrothal to another, elects to spurn her amorous advances. Given to superstition the delusional Lavi, believing herself to be a witch, cast what she believes to be a spell upon her intended only to be met with the ire of a deeply religious rural Southern Italian community.

Possibly an influence upon The Exorcist and maybe even Don't Torture The Duckling the themes covered are multifold and include the stifling claustrophobia of an isolated superstitious backwater, how this impacts upon young people and their ability to express feelings, the concepts of victimisation and persecution and how wicked whispers can easily become the fuel that burns within the lynch mob pyre.

Even while Lavi's self belief that somehow she can bend the will of others, with potion and ceremony, the true evil is that committed in the name of the state sanctioned religion as filtered through the narrow minds of communities that modernity forgot. Fulci clearly recognised this when he contrasts the liberal and ever so decadent urbanites with the easily influenced and emotive peasantry in Don't Torture The Duckling and there can be little doubt that Brunello Rondi wishes to drive home this very point too.

The conclusion has to be that Frank Wolff needed to confront his feelings and be more honest about those while those who make up the wider community really needed to get a grip on reality. Lavi's character is probably mentally ill, so has a bona fide excuse, yet it is she who gets the hard time.

Maurizio Merli header graphic courtesy of Paddy O'Neill of Foxyfide Graphics