The Eerie Midnight Horror Show
It's very late... you're all alone... you hear strange sounds... who's there?
Year of Release: 1974
Also Known As: Enter the Devil, The Devil Obsession, The Sexorcist, The Tormented
Running Time: 92 minutes (1:32)
Director: Mario Gariazzo
Stella Carnacina ... Danila
Chris Avram ... Mario
Lucretia Love ... Luisa
Luigi Pistilli ... Father Xeno
Gianrico Tondinelli ... Carlo
Ivan Rassimov ... Satan
A young art student is tormented by strange, vivid dreams involving her being nailed to a cross, as well as other bizarre images. Her torment increases when the actual crucifix seen in her dreams comes to life!
The Eerie Midnight Horror Show, remindin' us that when compared to the Old Testament God, or Christianity classic if you prefer, Satan has a much better sense of humor than our lord an savior. God classic is always in such a lousy mood, makes you wanna buy 'im a nice stuffed animal or a Weird Al CD so he'll feel a little better. Satan though, now that guy's always laughin', havin' a good time, an tryin' to use possessed girls to seduce priests even though usin' the girl's boyfriend woulda worked a whole lot better. He's a real character, that Satan. Really loves his work too, you've at least gotta give 'im that... course, it's easy to love your work when it frequently involves a nekkid Stella Carnacina. An speakin' of guys who aren't to be trusted, I'm a little leery about this whole stigmata thing that comes up in movies an tv shows that air on those channels that used to show documentaries til they sold out to sensationalism, cause I know for a fact that Clovis Skidman gave 'imself the stigmata with a nail gun on purpose to get outta goin' to Vietnam. Not a bad idea really, cept once Reverend Dollarhide found out about it he told Clovis it was his spiritual duty to stand next to the pulpit every Sunday an be cited as evidence of the impendin' rapture. Unfortunately for Clovis, the Reverend eventually found out about the nail gun incident one day when the old church ladies overheard Abel Pankins gripin' about the workman's compensation insurance on his "Oh What a Ceiling" construction company goin' through the roof at precisely the same moment as four bloody roofin' nails an pretty quick Clovis was in a whole heapa trouble. Dollarhide was madder'n a racoon stuck in a doggie door when he found out an ended up tellin' the army recruiter just to try gettin' Clovis crated up an mailed to Saigon, only the recruiter figured that anybody who'd shoot 'imself with a nail gun four times might not be somebody you wanna hand an M-16 to, so Clovis avoided the draft but was eventually sentenced to 12 years of pot scrubbin' duty in the church soup kitchen. But anyway, I guess what I'm sayin' is that things aren't always as they appear, an that if you're gonna draft dodge just shit your pants like Ted Nugent did, otherwise things get way too complicated.
Gettin' back to the flick though, this's gotta be one of the top three greatest Italian Exorcist clones of 1974. So even though we've seen a lot of this stuff before outta Linda Blair, this one has the added advantage of a star that's old enough to take 'er clothes off without the FCC goin' bombs over Baghdad on the head office at Warner Bros. This singular aspect alone completely opens up the plot to all kinda socially redeemin' possibilities, an thus, I've picked out a few bits of wisdom that Warner Bros could never have shown you due to a sensible level of restraint. First, if you're gonna have kinky masochistic sex that involves a hairy, squirrel faced sadist whippin' you with rose stems til you look like Terry Funk after a barbed wire match, you may wanna consider shuttin' the blinds first. Unless that public broadcastin' is some critical part of the ritual that I'm not gettin', in which case, nevermind. I'm a traditional kinda guy, so sometimes I dunno these things. Second, nice girls don't have sex with the first wooden carvin' who transforms into a person just because they look good in a loin cloth. Specially when they happen to be wearin' only white an have a tendency to cause nearby crosses to ignite. An third, just cause the evil possessed girl with lips that look like somebody took a belt sander to 'em trashed 'er last room, busted the window, an tore the security bars offa the frame, there's no reason to worry about leavin' 'er alone in a room with a roarin' fireplace. Now, I don't mean to take anything away from an otherwise fantastic learnin' opportunity, but I've got a question regardin' some of the alleged "reason" on display in this movie. I mean, are we really sure this woman's even possessed? Lets look at the facts: she's cranky, bitter, sexually frustrated, been denied for service by the father, black and white from head to toe, an at one point escapes 'er confinement by flyin' 'er way to safety. Am I the only one who sees that this woman is perfect nun material? She's met all the nun criteria before even fillin' out the application, yet all these priests wanna do is wave crosses in 'er face an cause traumatic flashbacks to 'er 8th grade Latin class. If these priests think she needs help then they obviously haven't been payin' attention when they're inspectin' their current roster. Now sure, the girl hasn't quite had 'er holy spirit broken yet so she's still a little wild at times, but give 'er six months locked up alone with nothin' but pictures of Billy Graham to fap to an she'll eventually break an be fully prepared for a life time of lookin' sour all the time an whackin' orphans on the knuckles with spoons for no reason. This is why the church goin' public is a dwindlin' populace, they can't even spot an ideal prospect when it vomits on 'em. What they really need is a team of talent scouts out their poundin' the pulpit if they're gonna be a force to reckon with ever again.
The movie begins with some guy (Carlo) pickin' up his meal ticket (Danila) from art class in this car that looks like George Custer after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, so he can drive 'er over to an abandoned church an watch 'er critique these two crucifixion sculptures for some little dweeb who looks like the Italian Henry Kissinger. So after she drops a buncha words like "nuance" an "gestalt" so everybody knows she's real smart, she picks out the one that looks the most constipated an rides with it in the back of Henry's pickup like a wet bird dog to make sure the Rhino linin' on truck bed don't sand off Crucie's backside. Then Henry fawns over his cigar store Catholic awhile an asks Danila if she can stay an keep an eye on Woodrow to make sure he don't throw any wild parties or anything, but Danila tells 'im to babysit his own sinner cause she's gotta go pretend to be part of a family that isn't completely dysfunctional at a party 'er parents're havin'. Unfortunately, the scene ends rather abruptly an the viewer has no time to shield their eyes from the excruciatin' 70s dancin' that gets rammed in our faces without warnin', then emphasis shifts over to Danila's mama (Luisa) who's givin' a lap dance to some hairy sleazeball while 'er Dad watches impotently an pretends it don't bother 'im. Then Mom an the sleazeball get a room so he can sprinkle rose petals all over 'er nekkid body an whip the crap out of 'er with the stems til she looks like Charlton Heston in Ben Hur, all without even closin' the blinds an thoroughly traumatizin' the first person who happens to stroll by, which turns out to be Danila. So now Danila's not only tryin' to hold down 'er Spaghetti-Os but also startin' to feel a little depressed that 'er mama's got a more interesting sex life than she does, an she decides to go back to Henry's art studio an work on 'er latest paintin' to get 'er mind offa the scene she just witnessed at the Kinkdome. Cept once she starts paintin', the overpriced kindlin' starts twitchin' an stretchin' out the stiffness in his crotches an eventually works out all the knots in his trunk, before yankin' off Danila's blouse on what appears to be laundry day since she's missin' 'er unmentionables. Then they make the sign of the triple fanged assault tortoise til she finds 'erself sittin' up at 'er work station where she realizes Chipper's made like a tree an gotten outta there. Not surprisingly she's just a little bit weirded out, so she calls up Carlo an they go out to grab some Pasta Roni an Danila tells 'im what she saw 'er mama doin' an that she's afraid she's got the same proclivity for perversely pain-filled poontang poundage 'er mama has on account of what she's assumin' was a hallucination, an that she wants to come live with him. Carlo thinks this is about the greatest idea anybody's ever had, but that they prolly aughta consult her parents first so Danila heads for home, which is apparently located in Sigourney Weaver's apartment from Ghostbusters, an when she gets to the top of the 39 story staircase she starts hearin' footsteps an somebody callin' 'er name.
She's able to get inside, but once there she starts hearin' a buncha Christmas carolers chantin' in Latin outside the door an gets the inescapable urge to get jiggy with it up against 'er door right in front of God an 'er tropical fish. Later that evenin', Danila's parents show up an Dad (Mario) tells Mom to go call the doctor when they find 'er layin' in bed scratchin' 'er belly like she's got Scabies. Only once mama's gone, Danila starts tryin' to get Dad to sample 'er clam chowder an he hasta smack the crap out of 'er til she starts whimperin' like a Basset Hound who didn't get to go on a car ride. Then the doc stops by an sticks 'er with 1200 ccs of Prozac an tells Dad that this kinda thing happens all the time in the southern U.S. an to just take 'er out into the country for some fresh air an hope the farmers aren't fertilizin' their fields. So they follow the doc's medical anti-city air advice an invite Carlo along for the trip, only before long they run over one of those spiked military helmets that's been layin' out in the rain since WWI. So while Dad's changin' the tire, Danila heads inside this old temple across the street where some photographer stops his shoot to tell Danila all about how the Christians were a buncha cheap-skates who just renovated the cathedrals of the people they conquered an that the people who worshiped here used to kill them a whole mess of babies. Naturally, Danila starts wanderin' around til she finds this room where Satan (who was previously the guy in the sculpture that slippped 'er the woody) is hangin' out on his cross cacklin' like Michele Bachmann when lightnin' strikes a gay pride parade, while these three Geisha babes're promisin' to kill all their babies in exchange for Satan's cut rate health insurance plan. Then one of the Geishas brings Danila some sacrificial Satanic wine an a Devil's Food communion wafer an she chugs it like a fifth of Vodka at an Indianapolis Colts 2015 AFC championship tailgate party til Satan gets down offa his high cross an nails Danila to it. It proves decidedly less enjoyable than the previous nailin'. Eventually, she wakes up in bed goin' apeshit an tries usin' the decorative crucifix hangin' over 'er bed on 'er parents' skulls like a foldin' chair in the hands of Balls Mahoney, til they can get it away from 'er an try coverin' up the situation so the pope won't kick 'em outta the club. So given his spotless track record thus far, they call the doc over again an Dad passes the time by makin' it clear he's seen Mom's rosery scars an makin' it perfectly clear that Danila gets 'er insanity from Mom's side of the family. Eventually the doc finishes the Phrenology chart he was workin' on for another patient an comes out to see Danila again an even he can't miss the gaping stigmata wounds in 'er paws, so upon finally realizin' he's in over his head like a midget in a carnival dunk tank, he tells Mom an Dad he's gonna lateral to Jason Miller an Max Von Sydow.
The next day, the doc's associates show up an decide that somebody's gonna have to do an Exorcism or else Danila's gonna keep gettin' progressively uglier an the movie's gonna start draggin' like knuckles at Ted Cruz' house. So Mom goes to see the head clergyguy an he tells 'er that this generation of kids is the worst one yet an that there's only one man who has what it takes to ram God down Danila's sinful throat an save 'er from the societal dangers of Pong and the Rubik's cube. The Padre'd still kinda like to check it out for 'imself since he's never seen a real life possessed person before, so he heads over to Mom an Dad's place to hear Danila roar like a Sasquatch with a hernia an watch 'er perform the Bushwhacker Battering Ram into the pillows that're protectin' 'er headboard before leavin' fully satisfied. So the Padre confirms to Mom an Dad that Danila's gone demon on 'em an that he knows a guy who'll whack any demon for 1000 lira, but that they'll hafta stuff 'er in a convent for awhile an force 'er to listen to old Hour of Decision reruns on the radio to soften 'er up first. By the time they get to the convent, Danila looks like she's been goin' steady with Ike Turner an hasta be dragged to 'er room by a buncha nuns who're prolly all plottin' to sample the fresh meat that just checked in while the Padre an Dad head up the hill to summon the wrecks'orcist 'imself, Father Xeno the Devil Stompin' Machino. Xeno knows why they've come an he's ready to make Pitch his bitch, so they head back to the convent where the nuns all start performin' Xeno's entrance music an Danila whips 'er hair back an forth til she can't stand anymore contemporary Christian rock an rips the bars off 'er window before fleein' through the streets where the openin' scene of Anthropophagus was shot. Unfortunately, the Pope-po's on 'er like hot on Sophia Loren before she can get very far, an they lock 'er up in the Super Mama suite where she starts summonin' a hurricane in the hallway to subdue Xeno before he can whip out his holy water an provide 'er with 'er complimentary burndown service. Fortunately Xeno's been to dinner with Jerry Falwell a few times in preparation for this level of hot air an manages to get into Danila's room, only Satan throws 'im a curve ball an returns Danila to 'er previous state of hotness an instructs 'er to try to rustle Xeno's jimmy an get God hoppin' mad. So Danila unleashes the kinda dirty talk that'd normally run Xeno about $4.99 a minute til he hasta pry his belt out of 'er teeth an temporarily retreat to the coldest of showers an try gettin' Jesus on the horn so he can regroup. Then Xeno receives a message from the great lord an savior Devo, at which point he pulls out his miniature cat 'o nine tails that looks like a stripper tassle an whips 'imself til the swellin' in his priestly pantaloons subsides. Meanwhile, Satan assures Danila that they've got Xeno right where they want 'im an that when he comes back for more they're gonna give God double the recommended daily serving of crow. Cuttin' here, but this one's in the public domain so you can check it out on Youtube for free if you can't live without closure.
Alrighty, well, how about those whacky Italians and their conspicuously timed cinematic efforts to cash in on the success of various American hits? They're kinda like the Samsung to our Apple when you think about it, but at the end of the day you can't help but love Italian movie makers. Those guys must've made about a hundred movies that were all based around makin' a quick buck off of movies that were derivative of either Dawn of the Dead, The Exorcist, or Mad Max, but even though they never quite attain the popularity of those flicks they never fail to entertain. The Eerie Midnight Horror Show was, of course, one of their many Exorcist clones that started comin' out within a year of it cleanin' up at the box office and even though it's certainly not on par with that classic, they're able to do some things The Exorcist couldn't due to the age of the lead actress. Horror Show is self aware enough to realize that the budget forbids them from competing with The Exorcist in terms of star power and special effects, but they can sure as heck take it down the path of the exploitation movie and give it a level of sleaziness you'll never see in a big budget movie. That's really the only sensible option when you think about it, otherwise you're stuck making a watered down version of whatever it is you're cloning, so the path they chose is an easy way to ensure that certain aspects of their movie stand out when compared to the original, even if the original is still the better movie. These days they'd call that a "gritty reboot" or something equally vacuous and hackneyed, as they try desperately to attain a certain look and atmosphere that guys from the 70s could achieve before they'd even had their morning coffee. The movie has its problems of course, but I just wanted to say a few things in its defense since many people might write it off as an Exorcist "rip-off" and call it a day. I think its biggest problem is that it doesn't always make a whole lot of sense. I mean, are the incidents involving Satan supposed to be real events or what? For instance, the scene where Stella Carnacina's makin' the sign of the triple chinned elephant seal with Ivan Rassimov an the cross catches fire, only to turn up completely intact where it was previously sittin' once the vision ends. What the heck is that? I mean, did it happen or not? Obviously Satan's got her by the brain banana so she at least thinks it happened, but he's got a physical hold on her too, cause eventually she starts wearin' more eyeshadow than a fat girl in a goth bar while simultaneously sportin' a set of lips that look like a frostbitten labia, but it's never clear whether these things are actually happening or not. I've also gotta say, when I first started watching it I figured it'd be at least somewhat comedic in nature, and that's due to the profoundly stupid title that seems to be the one that stuck. Movie's got four other names that it's known by, and this one's easily the worst of the bunch. Makes somebody who isn't familiar with it think Tim Curry's gonna show up in drag and start singin' "Sweet Transvestite."
In any event, lets take a swig of the Satanic spritzer an see how high the proof is. The plot is... well it's an exploitation version of The Exorcist. Which, in a way, is more original than the version of The Exorcist that actually got made because even though The Exorcist had its share of controversy, it was still an idea that had been done before, if never as well. So whether or not you prefer an exploitation flick over a well crafted flick made by a major studio, one must acknowledge the potential in a movie with this type of subject matter, that isn't held to certain standards of decency that a Warner Bros production might be. The acting is actually pretty decent, particularly Stella Carnacina as the wild-eyed creepy girl claimin' the devil made her do it. Her style of possession involves a lot more goin' apeshit and destroyin' the sets than what you'll see from Linda Blair in The Exorcist, so it's a different kind of performance. Luigi Pistilli's also pretty good as the holier than thou Father Xeno, even though he's portrayed as a tired old man who looks like he's had to do this kinda thing every weekend for the last 37 years and could really benefit from a stiff drink. Lucretia Love isn't bad as the skankier than thou Luisa either, and we've definitely got some pretty good lookin' women in this one who aren't too good to show off their assets. Here's who matters and why: Chris Avram (A Bay of Blood, Star Odyssey, The Killer Reserved Nine Seats, Escape from Galaxy 3), Lucretia Love (Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype, The Killer Reserved Nine Seats, She Beast), Ivan Rassimov (Sacrifice!, Jungle Holocaust, Beyond the Door II, Eaten Alive! 1980, Body Count, The Humanoid, All the Colors of the Dark, Planet of the Vampires), Gabriele Tinti (Crawlers, Beaks: The Movie, Convent of Sinners, The Monster of Florence, Endgame: Bronx lotta finale, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Diabolicamente... Letizia, The House of Exorcism, Lisa and the Devil, The Mysterious Island, Ulysses Against Hercules, Journey Beneath the Desert), Luigi Pistilli (A Bay of Blood), Umberto Raho (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, The Last Man on Earth, Night of the Devils, Baron Blood, The War of the Planets, Wild Wild Planet, The Long Hair of Death, The Ghost 1963), Guiseppe Addobbati (Kill Baby Kill, Nightmare Castle), Luigi Antonio Guerra (Rabid Dogs, The Antichrist, Nude for Satan, The Killer Reserved Nine Seats, Frankenstein '80), Giovanni Di Benedetto (Nazi Love Camp 27, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Hercules Samson & Ulysses, Blood and Roses), Raniero Dorascenzi (2019: After the Fall of New York). Surprisingly, there is one guy in there that had something approaching a star, which was of course Luigi Pistilli who played Groggy in For a Few Dollars More, and Father Pablo Ramirez in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. So fairly respectable, with regard to the acting performances.
The special effects aren't terrible, but nor are they particularly eye catching. A lot of the blood is that really vibrant, runny red crap that studios (and not just Italian studios) used back in the 70s to make sure it stood out, and it certainly does that at least. Generally speaking it's not a particularly gory movie, so there isn't much to analyze here. You've got the stigmata wounds which aren't bad, a positively god awful dummy that's attached to the crucifix while it's being carried (likely because the real prop was damn heavy), some decent scrapes on both Stella Carnacina and Lucretia Love, and the fair if somewhat underwhelming facial makeup applied to Stella Carnacina toward the end of the movie where she's gettin' ickied up by the possession. The shooting locations I found a little disappointing. I generally enjoy the architecture in European horror flicks because it has a style and look that's vastly different from our American architecture, but this movie just doesn't utilize it very often. The best location is probably when Stella's runnin' through an Italian village after bustin' outta the convent, although the exteriors of the convent and the building where Stella's second run in with Satan take place are both pretty good. Mostly though, you've got boring interiors (though the retro furniture is kinda interesting) and lackluster sets, like the one used in Stella's second encounter with Satan. Shooting locations are probably the low point on this one, which if nothing else, is the least harmful to a movie's overall score. The soundtrack is a pretty decent composition with a lot of tension. Probably a little less variety than most movies, but every horror flick has one track that's kinda the staple of the movie and thus gets the most air time. So even though it does get a little repetitive at times, the tracks themselves are definitely generating atmosphere and aren't unpleasing to the ear. Also, other than the goofy party music playing near the beginning of the movie, it didn't seem to come across as overtly Italian in tone, which is a little odd because you can generally tell very easily what country a movie's from by its soundtrack. You can still tell it's Italian, but it's not as obvious as a lot of other flicks, which is neither good nor bad, just a little unusual. Pretty good track though, composed by Carcello Giombini who also did the tracks for Anthropophagus, and a whole lot of Italian space operas. Overall, I think this one's a little underrated, particularly for a title that was allowed to fall into the public domain. It's not mind blowingly amazing, but I'd recommend it to fans of 70s Italian horror, as well as fans of the demonic possession sub-genre. Just fair, but better than it gets credit for.