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
Eerie, surreal, and strangely beautiful - one of Bava's best!
Lovely tourist Lisa becomes lost in a European town and soon finds herself at an isolated estate where she's plagued by bizarre and frightening occurrences. The handsome master of the house seems to think Lisa is the reincarnation of his dead lover, a phantom stranger may or may not be a ghost, and the smug family butler is possibly the devil himself!
Lisa and the Devil is perhaps the most unique of the great Mario Bava's horror films. It broods with the lavish and colorful direction that the great filmmaker was well known for and it has a terrifically weird atmosphere. The story is a compelling mosaic of mystery, murder, and otherworldly surrealism as it provides for one effectively nightmarish journey. The fluid camera-work is excellent, the Gothic scenery and sets are nicely captured, and the haunting music score is perfectly pitched to give this film a stylish and chilling atmosphere.
The cast is also quite good. Gorgeous Elke Sommer gives a strong performance as bewildered Lisa. Dashing Alessio Orano is terrific as the master of the house. Veteran actress Alida Valli is great as the blind countess. However the biggest show-stealer is Telly Savalas as the charismatic and possibly fiendish butler. The supporting cast is also quite solid.
Lisa and the Devil is simply a must-see for all fans of Bava and particularly for fans of surrealist horror. It's a truly original horror gem and one of Bava's greatest works.
Footnote: Avoid a terribly re-edited and re-worked version of the film re-named House of Exorcism. This was a poorly constructed version of the film forced onto the market after distribution problems. Stick with the film that Bava intended to make instead!
**** out of ****
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