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THE ANTICHRIST (1974)

aka L'anticristo, The Tempter
Article 3114 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-6-2009
Posting Date: 2-22-2010
Directed by Alberto De Martino
Featuring Carla Gravina, Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy
Country: Italy
What it is: Italian Exorcist rip-off

A woman with paralyzed legs and family issues is treated by a parapsychologist who discovers she was a witch in her previous life.  His attempts to cure her result in her possession by the devil.

It takes THE EXORCIST and adds a dose of ROSEMARY'S BABY and a few touches of the Bridey Murphy story, throws in some incest themes, and tries to up the gross-out ante on occasion.  Thanks to some sharp editing, some strong production values, wonderful location footage, and the addition of English-speaking actors (Mel Ferrer, Arthur Kennedy and George Coulouris) to minimize dubbing difficulties for American audiences, this ends up being one of the better Italian takes on THE EXORCIST I've seen to date.  Still, it never really transcends being a rip-off; when all is said and done, it's the equivalent of eating reheated leftovers.  It might have helped if the actress playing the possessee had managed to engender our sympathy, but she's too self-pitying and grudge-filled, and her primary facial expression is a contemptuous pout; I found it impossible to care for her plight.  As a result, the movie, though well-made, left very little impact.

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