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DVD Review

DVD cover

The Antichrist (1974)


Starring: Carla Gravina, Mel Ferrer and Arthur Kennedy
Optimum Home Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 18
Available 16 March 2009

Hipolita, a young woman crippled in a car accident which killed her mother, feels emotionally isolated by her condition and the new woman in her father's life. Having attempted various cures for her, Hipolita's father brings in a psychoanalyst who believes that a mental condition is preventing her from walking. He hypnotises her but the resultant regression therapy takes her back to a previous life as a distant relative - a novice nun who had run away to join a devil-worshipping cult and eventually been burned as a witch. Now Hipolita can walk but not only is the personality of the witch in ascendance but it seems she is possessed by the devil himself...

The first third of this film is a masterclass in inactivity as everyone stands around looking meaningfully at each other, and extreme close-ups are utilised as if to display the intention that something significant is going on. There is an elongated scene afterward which is reminiscent in places of The Devil Rides Out, in which Hipolita is raped by an invisible force - presumably the devil - as she experiences a vision in which her ancestor willingly endures a similar ordeal during a ritual orgy. The final third of the movie is a blatant reworking of The Exorcist: Hipolita rambles on about the male genitalia (and that's me being subtle) in a deep sulphurous voice; she spews what looks like mushy peas, a la the Linda Blair character's pea soup; an elderly monk arrives at the house, silhouetted in darkness, to perform an exorcism; and the furniture in Hipolita's room performs an obligatory tap dance.

There are claims that The Antichrist has achieved cult status among fans of European horror, but for me it has no originality and fails to create any suspense whatsoever. Many already tedious scenes are prolonged to the extent it had me reaching for the fast forward button. You would be forgiven for thinking that a score by the eminent Ennio Morricone would at least lift this film-by-numbers from the mire; however, it's disappointing indeed to experience simply a series of electronic-sounding noises which are held to the point where you feel a migraine coming on - and I don't suffer from migraines.


Ty Power

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