By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Where is the plot?
Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist in Spain who gets lost and finds shelter inside a large mansion run by a butler Leandro (Telly Savalas) and a Countess (Alida Valli). Soon Lisa begins to experience strange occurrences and visions. People turn up dead and then alive again. When she tries to escape she finds that she can’t and is now stuck in a surreal world with no exit.
I am use to watching Italian horror films being strong on the visual end and weak with the plot, logic and character development especially when they attached to either Mario Bava or Dario Argento, but this one goes to the extreme. Nothing makes sense and scenes are thrown in haphazardly and go nowhere. The basic premise is too general and unfocused and the entire production seems to be an exercise in interesting camera work and nothing more. Yes there are a few atmospheric moments, but it all adds up to very little.
Had the special effects been gory or impressive I might have forgiven it, but for Bava standards they are lacking as well. For one thing there is very little gore to begin with and what we do see looks amateurish. The scene where a man gets run over by a car clearly looks like a mannequin and as the driver backs up and runs him over several more times it becomes even more obvious.
Sommer makes for a weak heroine. Her character is as vague and mysterious as all the others, so the viewer never gains any empathy or concern for her fate. Her short shoulder length haircut makes her look middle-aged and dowdy. Also, Sylvia Koscina her costar has facial features that are too similar to Elke’s and for a while I thought she was Elke with a brunette wig. Her best moment is actually her nude scene of which she looks great although I noticed her eye lids constantly fluttering when her character was supposedly asleep.
Normally I love Telly Savalas and he can be effectively menacing, but here he is sorely underused. The character pops in and out sporadically, but really doesn’t do much. I did like that he is constantly sucking on lollipops, which later became his trademark during his run on the ‘Kojak’ TV-series.
I was hoping for some grand over-the-top finale to make up for having to sit through all this, but it never came. The climax, which takes place inside a jet airliner no less, is as underwhelming as everything else. Not surprisingly this film was edited into a completely different story and reissued as The House of Exorcism, which will be reviewed tomorrow.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: May 9, 1973
Runtime: 1Hour 32Minutes
Director: Mario Bava
Studio: Leone International
Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, Netflix streaming