Lisa e il Diavolo (The House of Exorcism) (Mario Bava, 1974)
I don’t know why I keep watching Mario Bava movies. I’ve seen all of those that people have recommended to me over and over again and found them anywhere from mediocre (Bay of Blood) to utterly unwatchable (Black Sunday). And yet so many people I know are so taken with Bava’s movies that I keep trying. I don’t do that with Woody Allen or Godard, so what is it about Bava? That said, I may have finally found the movie that will put me off him forever, Lisa e il Diavolo. Incoherent, rambling, badly-paced, and one of the largest wastes of A-list talent I have ever experienced, this movie would be best-served with the piquant odor of burning celluloid.
I’d give you a plot synopsis, but for this movie, that is well-nigh impossible. It involves the titular Lisa (delicious B-movie temptress Elke Sommer), who attracts the eye of a very wealthy, very perverse chap with a mannequin fetish, Leandro (Blood and Lace‘s Telly Savalas). During a tour of a foreign land, her car breaks down, and she and her chauffeur (Emmanuelle and the Last Cannibals‘ Gabriele Tinti), along with the husband and wife from whom she hitched a ride, Max and Sophie (The Count of Monte Cristo‘s Alessio Orano and Boccaccio‘s Sylva Koscina), are forced to find shelter in the decaying mansion of a countess (The Third Man‘s Alida Valli—oh, how far the mighty have fallen) who may or may not be in league with the diabolical forces who seem to have taken as much of a shine to Lisa as Leandro has.
Man, I wish, given that cast (did I mention Eduardo Fajardo is in here as well?), there was one thing I could say about this movie that sounds like a vaguely redeeming quality. That’s usually a stable of actors where at least one will turn in a performance that make a movie at least marginally worth watching, but it’s almost as if Bava coached them to be as stale and lifeless as possible. Simply put, in every conceivable way, this is an awful, awful movie, and it easily earned itself a place on the 100 Worst list. It was saved from zero-star status simply because it wasn’t overtly offensive and I finished watching it, for some unknown reason. Avoid like the plague. ½