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Lisa is a tourist in an ancient city. When she gets lost, she finds an old mansion in which to shelter. Soon she is sucked into a vortex of deception, debauchery and evil presided over by housekeeper Leandre. Written by
Leandro frequently having a sucker in his mouth was a trait added by Telly Savalas. Savalas had recently quit smoking and used the suckers as an alternative. The suckers would become a popular character trait on his American television series Kojak (1973) which started that same year. See more »
I prefer ghosts to vampires, though. They're so much more human; they have a tradition to live up to. Somehow they manage to keep all the horror in without spilling any blood.
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Lisa and the Devil features many of Bava's trademarks; a devilish atmosphere, superbly chilling use of lighting and a general foreboding feel to the movie that gives the impression that something bad will happen. However, the movie is also fairly messy; there are too many ideas in the film and all together it comes out more than a little confusingly. The version I saw was the Redemption release of "Lisa and the Devil", which is not to be confused with badly intercepted release, "The House of Exorcism". The plot follows the story of Lisa, a young lady that gets lost in an ancient city in Spain. She then hitches a ride with a couple and their chauffeur, but they end up breaking down and happening on a house inhabited by a blind woman, her strange son and a creepy housekeeper. What follows is a nightmarish and morbid ride that touches on themes such as love, lust and death.
Mario Bava is a master of the horror genre, many of his films have inspired whole areas of cinema, most notably "Bay of Blood", to which slashers owe their existence and "The Girl Who Knew Too much", which is often credited as the first Giallo. But I feel that this is one of his lesser efforts. That's not to say that this is a bad film by any means, it features a lot of nice elements, particularly the spooky sequences with main characters and their dead ex-lovers, which almost touches on necrophilia, and therefore gives the film a very morbid and nasty feel. The actors in the movie are also fairly accomplished; it features Elke Sommer, who also starred in Bava's atmospheric shocker, "Baron Blood", among other films and Telly Savalas, who gives a great turn as the creepy butler of the house. But it seems to have too many ideas going on, and a lot of them aren't really explained, which left me feeling confused.
Overall, Lisa and the Devil is a good horror movie with much to admire, most notably the superb creation of atmosphere from Mario Bava but I feel that if it had concentrated less on putting lots of ideas into it, and more on concentrating on the ones it already had; then it would have been a better film.
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