Antichrist, The / L'anticristo (1974)

3.0 out of 5

Alberto De Martino's early-out-the-gate Exorcist clone relocates the action to Vatican City where a wheelchair-bound Carla Gravina is possessed by a witch who was burned at the stake centuries ago. Although nowhere near as chilling, memorable or, of course, original as its inspiration, a nerve-racking opening sequence at a manic rural religious ceremony sets the tone very effectively and a fine, fine score from Morricone AND Bruno Nicolai keeps the atmosphere thick.

After a delightfully lurid Rosemary's Baby styled dream sequence/past life flashback featuring a Satanic ritual, with a level of eroticism made possible by having an adult possessee rather than a child, one gets the sense that Martino and producer Edmondo Amati are attempting to top Friedkin's original rather than merely copy it. In this they fail, but the results are entertaining nonetheless, with green projectile vomit, church desecrations, screamed obscenities, a neck twisted all the way round, someone taking a rather nasty tumble down some stone steps and Linda Blair's levitation scene taken to another level with the possessed Gravina levitating, floating out of the window, around a corner and back in again, courtesy of some highly unconvincing travelling matte work. However, more fun even than this is to be had by watching Mel Ferrer and Arthur Kennedy seemingly in competition with each other to see who can overact the most wildly.

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