Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
Original Title: Stridulum
Italy, 1979. Brouwersgfracht Investments. Story by Giulio Paradisi, Ovidio G. Assonitis, Screenplay by Luciano Comici, Robert Mundi. Cinematography by Ennio Guarnieri. Produced by Ovidio G. Assonitis. Music by Franco Micalizzi. Production Design by Franco Vanorio. Film Editing by Roberto Curi.
This nonsensical “horror” film is rarely horrific despite its mashing up story elements of The Exorcist, Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen and presenting them in a beautifully photographed but otherwise innocuous imitation. The battle in heaven between alien deities Yahweh and the evil Zateen long ago resulted in the dark lord coming to earth and infusing his spirit in various human beings throughout time, a tale related to us by an uncredited Franco Nero in a bad blonde Jesus wig. The latest incarnation of this demonic presence has entered a little girl, played by Paige Conner made up to look like Linda Blair, and the wise mystic John Huston must come to where she lives to save the world from destruction. Other than a little mischief at the beginning, the bad seed hardly does anything truly heinous, one of her major actions is to knock a few boys out on a skating rink before finally getting nasty in the film’s conclusion. In the meantime we must patiently sit through a number of haphazardly strung together sequences of dullness including police officer Glenn Ford investigating the crimes that the child has committed, and her stepfather (Lance Henriksen) being in league with a Satanic cabal (led by Mel Ferrer) to use her to raise the evil one to his full powers. Joanne Nail stands in for Lee Remick as the child’s hopelessly glamorous mother, Shelley Winters has a few moments of high camp as her maid, and director Sam Peckinpah makes a cameo as Conner’s biological father. As with all Italian-produced horror films of the era, the production design is on point and stunning throughout, but the rest is a truly unholy mess.