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  Eerie Midnight Horror Show, The Yet another Satanic sexpot
Year: 1974
Director: Mario Gariazzo
Stars: Stella Carnacina, Chris Avram, Lucretia Love, Ivan Rassimov, Gabriele Tinti, Luigi Pistilli, Gianrico Tondinelli, Umberto Raho, Giuseppe Addobatti, Piero Gerlini, Maria Teresa Piaggio
Genre: Horror, Sex, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: If Italian Exorcist rip-offs have taught us anything it’s that demonic possession makes nubile young women hopelessly horny. As lessons go, it’s not particularly profound, but face it - these films haven’t taught us much else. Like some demonic daytime soap opera, The Eerie Midnight Horror Show, a.k.a. L’Ossessa, a.k.a. The Sexorcist, a.k.a. a lot of things, kicks off with a montage of its principal players. Ooh look, there’s Luigi Pistilli from innumerable giallo flicks; Lucretia Love - star of sexy swashbucklers Zenabel (1969) and The Arena (1972); Gabriele Tinti who went on to marry Laura Gemser and shag his way through countless sexploitation films; and of course Ivan Rassimov as Satan. Right off the bat, devotees of Italian exploitation know they’re in for a high old time.

“Based on a true story” (yeah, right), the film begins as a gifted young art student named Danila (Stella Carnacina) unearths an eerily lifelike wood-carving of a crucified man from a fifteenth century church. Her stuffy old professors muse over how the site was consecrated after a satanic coven was discovered holding orgies in there. Speaking of which, shortly afterwards Danila slips into a sexy dress to attend her parents’ swinging bash. Between cocktails and much grooving on the dance floor, dad Mario (Chris Avram) can’t conceal his disgust that mum, Luisa (Lucretia Love) is carrying on with a studly swinger (Gabriele Tinti) whose paisley shirt proudly bares his gold medallion and ample chest hair. Nice. Pretty soon they’re in the bedroom where he covers Luisa’s naked body with rose petals, then thrashes her with the thorny stems. “Harder, darling, harder!” she cries.

Poor Danila gets an eyeful of mum’s horticultural S&M fetish and promptly runs back to her art studio. While she’s busy painting, the wood-carving suddenly comes alive as the living Satan (Ivan Rassimov, who played the part so often one doubts Italian exploitation producers could tell them apart). Smiling Satan swiftly rips Danila’s clothes off and has hot voodoo sex with her on the floor. So hot they actually set the room on fire. Shaken out of her trance, Danila suddenly finds herself alone in the room, the statue back in its place, as though nothing had happened. More fevered sexual hallucinations follow over the coming weeks. One evening Mario and Luisa return home to find Danila furiously masturbating in bed before trying to entice daddy into incest. When the doctor’s prescription of a glass of warm milk and some fresh air out in the country fail to set Danila straight, her distraught parents turn to the Catholic church.

Ah, Mario Gariazzo. He might not be as infamous as Joe D’Amato or Luigi Batzella but his output is equally tawdry and trashy, e.g. porno-giallo Play Motel (1979) and crap-tastic UFO thriller Eyes Behind the Stars (1978). Like most Gariazzo movies, The Eerie Midnight Horror Show has a story structure not too different from your average porn flick, essentially a series of surreal and sexy set-pieces strung together by a flimsy plot. However, it remains among the more interesting Exorcist rip-offs, with concepts that tread fresh ground and some surprisingly stylish suspense sequences where Gariazzo’s use of titled angles, fisheye lenses and shadowy mood lighting are almost worthy of Jacques Tourneur. Notably in the scene where Daniela ascends a darkened staircase, stalked by an invisible presence and pounding footsteps, simultaneously terrified and aroused.

The film is interestingly upfront about its reactionary stance. “Today’s young people need more parental guidance than ever before, especially from their mothers”, Reverend Antonio (Piero Gerlini) lectures Luisa. For all the satanic hoodoo, the film is really about mum learning to ditch her wanton ways and look after her wayward daughter. These films were made for rural Italian audiences in regions where the Hollywood original might not have played, and thus uphold small town, working class values. Even more than William Friedkin’s film, the rip-off is an unabashed celebration of the Catholic church. Special guest star Luigi Pistilli plays a rogue exorcist who lives like a hermit in the mountains. He gives Danila the full Max Von Sydow treatment, until a vengeful Satan restores her va-va-voom good looks so she can tempt the priest with some saucy chat and suggestive tongue waggling. Some swift self-flagellation later (er, not that kind), Pistilli charges back for an exciting finale where Daniela whips him with chains then putrefies via some accomplished makeup effects.

Neither Satan’s ultimate goal nor the pseudo-theological gobbledegook make any sense, but it is all vivid and strange and fetching lead actress Stella Carnacina, with her adorable pre-Raphaelite locks, gives it the full-tilt boogie. Marcello Giombini supplies a synth score that sounds like elevator music... bound straight for hell, bwah-hah-hah!!

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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