Eerie Midnight Horror Show, The (1974)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2008-10-13 12:17

Directed by: Mario Gariazzo
Written by: Ambrogio Molteni
Starring: Stella Carnacina, Ivan Rassimov, Luigi Pistilli, Lucretia Love & Chris Avram

Reviewed by: Brett H.

ďI've got an idea; why don't you try it too, daddy? Come on. Or are you afraid it would be wrong? There's no such thing as incest, it's just an invention of priests. Make love to me!Ē

The soul of demonic possession films that take a cue or two from The Exorcist comes from the holy men who must do battle with an unspeakable force with powers we canít comprehend. Certainly, itís the possessed body that accounts for most of the scares, but when youíre up all alone in the middle of the night with the glow of your TV shining on your face, youíre basically a second or third man along with the exorcists battling the devil. When a film works, this can mean a haunting experience unparalleled with anything the genre has to offer. Fathers Karras and Merrin from The Exorcist prove this in spades, but some films arenít necessarily played with such a straight face. 1974ís The Antichrist is one hell of a movie to say the least and one thatís not meant to be taken seriously. In terms of delightful Italian demonic possession sleaze, it canít be beaten due to intense over the top vulgarities that will shock most anyone into a good fit of laughter, revulsion, or both. Always on the ball, Italian cinema not only had the aforementioned bad taste classic, but two other Exorcist rip-offs in í74 in the forms of Beyond the Door and The Eerie Midnight Horror Show. How does Eerie stack up against the other demons? Read on.

Danila (Stella Carnacina) is an artist who just happens to stumble upon a rare find. A deconsecrated church is home to a few pieces of religious art dating back a few centuries and the works have gone up for sale. The story of the church is that it had been used as a center for orgies all those years ago and that could be one reason no one ever bothered to claim the intricately crafted crucifixes. Danila takes home her life-size crucifixion rendition and lays it out on her table with the help of some colleagues before putting some finishing touches on her own painting. Suddenly, the carving comes to life off of the crucifix and disappears. For a moment, Danila is stunned, but the figure appears in front of her in human form and immediately rids her of her clothes and has sex with her on the spot.

Danila begins to act strange, and her mother and father take notice quickly. Things finally spin out of control when her mother and father mistake her demonic masturbation session as screams of agony. Pops orders Ma to go call the doctor and while her mother is out of her room, Danila tries to seduce her father. He turns her down via a few backhands across the face. Doctors convince them to find a priest to take a look at Danila Ė not necessarily because sheís possessed but because theyíve dealt with cases where people think theyíre possessed and a visit from a priest usually solves the ordeal. But, the priest who shows up realizes that Danila really has been taken over by a demon and he enlists the help of one of the only remaining exorcists, Father Xeno (Luigi Pistilli) around to combat Satan himself and save Danilaís soul.

The Eerie Midnight Horror Show begins well, but trails off into average Italian sleaze. When Danila is shopping for her art, thereís a nice exposition scene about the very crucifix she purchases and how the church was taken over by sin. This leads you to believe that there may be something more interesting afoot than your standard demonic possession, but the film just works up to that age-old battle of priests vs. the devil. Thatís fine, Iíd much rather have that than the ending of Beyond the Door, but the background information was pretty interesting and it would have been nice to delve further into those sins and stories than merely have Satan come to life from an old wood-carved crucifixion. Itís not expecting too much since the flick set itself up just fine for some truly interesting story before rolling a gutter ball down the alley. At the very least, when the carving comes to life itís subtly creepy. Danilaís almost finished portrait of a man peers over her shoulder from the canvas, seemingly watching the sculpture come to life before his very eyes, totally unbeknownst to her.

The meat and potatoes of Italian demonic possession is always sleaze. What the Americans can do, they can do one better, right? Weíre treated to all the usual incest, rough and misogynistic sex, nude scenes and puke gobs that I had hoped for going in. Itís nowhere close to being as insane as The Antichrist, but asking for anything near that is a lofty expectation. One problem the movie has is the possessed Danila is not that interesting. For the most part she just writhes, screams and laughs rather than having any in depth conversation that played such a subtle and disturbing role in The Exorcist, which of course was blown off the planet in The Antichrist. About the only thing Danila tries to do is seduce people, even the poor old exorcist has a battle of wills with Satan in Danilaís very tempting skin. She does envision herself being crucified at one point, which is a rather cringe worthy affair.

The final exorcism is actually quite the joy and pretty badass. Itís not as elaborate as others, but it manages to keep your attention well. Father Xeno lives alone up in the mountains and senses his duties are needed, heís even prepared to go before a priest even arrives to inform him his skills are required. It made me chuckle a bit that the exorcist in this film is the equivalent to the priesthood what goalies are to the hockey world; nutty, focused and introverted. I guess youíd have to be youíre your main job is to tackle inhuman forces and getting in the way of 100mph pucks. Finally, Danilla begins to look really sickening at about this time and her eyes fill with blood as her lips chap raw and froth hideously. Father Xeno cuts through the howling devil winds with his crucifix and the fun little showdown begins. The Eerie Midnight Horror Show is presented on DVD by cheapie label Alpha and as always, you get what you pay for. The film is presented in full frame VHS quality and the blacks are sometimes blues and the audio has seen better days. But, fans of this old Continental Video trash-ic will just have to make due and it has just enough merit that newcomers should Rent it!

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