Lisa and the Devil (1973) Poster

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GroovyDoom15 September 2003
As oft repeated here: the version titled "Lisa and the Devil" is the more serious of the two versions of this film. "Lisa" captures perfectly that nightmarish atmosphere that Italian filmmakers such as Bava and Argento seem to have such a knack for creating. This is one of the first films I ever saw that relied on visual narrative instead of a solid script to make its point, and even at an early age this really held my interest. Of course, the argument could also be made that this film suffers from slow pacing and a telegraphed conclusion, but I still think the movie is gorgeous, and Elke Sommer is a delight.

But don't let that stop you from checking out "House of Exorcism", either! This takes the film to the other end of the spectrum, exploiting the loose narrative by forcing a possession plot that finds Elke's character now confined to a hospital bed doing her best Linda Blair impression. Everyone involved with the making of these scenes had to have known they were trashy, including Elke herself, so it's a riot to see how game she was to go over the top. She just cuts loose & goes for it, mugging for the camera, vomiting toads, and dripping lots of green bile (natch).

Compared to "Lisa and the Devil", "House of Exorcism" is an absolute abomination, but the producer was a demented genius in forcing the issue of the possession subplot, since the film in its original form was far too "art house" to make any money on the drive-in circuit. If you get ahold of the special edition DVD with both cuts of the film on it, be sure to listen in to the commentary track, which features some great chat from Alfred Leone (the film's producer) and Elke Sommer herself. The opportunity to view both versions of the film gives the viewer a unique opportunity to experience two radically different visions of one film: first as a sumptuously filmed dreamlike masterpiece, then as a masterpiece defiled, hacked to pieces for an exploitation thrill.
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Oh, NOW I see what everyone's talking about! Avoid "Exorcism", go with "Lisa"!
Infofreak5 November 2002
Well I finally managed to get to see 'Lisa And The Devil' as Bava originally intended it, rather than the very dodgy 'House Of Exorcism' version I had previously seen, and the original is ten times better! Stripped of the tacked-on possession scenes and Robert Alda's priest role, the movie reveals itself to be a superior, atmospheric and stylish "nightmare on celluloid" movie. It reminded me a little bit of Jean Brismee's 'The Devil's Nightmare' in places, and at other times the work of Jean Rollin, without the overt eroticism. It's surreal touches and foreboding feel with probably appeal to fans of David Lynch or Herk Harvey's 'Carnival Of Souls' more than hardcore horror nuts. The cast are all good, but Telly Savalas gives a standout performance just on the right side of over the top, and Elke Sommer appears much more believable as the confused protagonist of this movie, rather than the unconvincing Linda Blair wanna-be of 'House Of Exorcism'. All in all one of Mario Bava's most original and interesting movies. Recommended.
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Surreal horror from Pappa Bava
ericdetrick200229 June 2004
I love Italian films from the 60s and 70s. I picked up Lisa and the Devil on DVD and then realized that the House of Exorcism is a re-edited, totally different version of Lisa and the Devil. I feel like I need to see the House of Exorcism now.

If you like Bava films, then you will surely enjoy Lisa and the Devil. This is a surreal piece of film making in that you are not quite sure what is reality and what is in the mind of the characters. There is no over the top gore, but Bava uses camera work and generates a creepy atmosphere. I may not reccomend

this film to Mario Bava "first timers" or "gore hounds". While I love to watch a Fulci or Bruno Mattei zombie fest anyday, I still enjoy a classic Bava film the same way I enjoy classical music. They both hit a chord, but a different chord.
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Lisa and the Devil
Scarecrow-8827 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Lisa's life will never be the same when she gets lost in an unfamiliar European city. Eluding a strange man who confuses her with someone else, Lisa(Elke Sommer)bums a ride with Frank and Sophia Lehar(Eduardo Fajardo & Sylva Koscina), an unhappily married wealthy couple. Their vehicle, however, is on the fritz and George(Gabriele Tinti;the Lehar's chauffeur and Sophia's lover)must stop somewhere for repairs. They happen across a blind countess' manor and her son, Maximilian(Alessio Orano)invites them to stay. Lisa gets quite a shock when she realizes that the lolly-pop sucking butler of the manor(Telly Savales chewing scenery with his usual cool) is a spitting image of an artistic rendition of Satan on an old decrepit building wall in the European city she just escaped from. When the unexpected death of George occurs, the group is rocked in fear. Maximilian, like the previous strange gentleman she met in the last city, responds to Lisa as if he knows her. He wishes to passionately embrace Lisa, but she has no idea how to react to all the strange happenings upon her. In a dream sequence, Lisa reminisces a past life where she was embracing the first gentleman who now has a name:Carlo(Espartaco Santoni)'s the kicker, Carlo is actually Max's mother's husband who had ran off with a woman named Helen who seemed to have been attached to Max. All this drama, with Sophia in deep mourning over her beloved George's death, and how Lisa reminds others of Helena spirals out of control as a sneering Leandro, the butler, looks on in cheeky delight, often mumbling about the situational developments as they occur.Bava, as Gothic as ever, has lots of stylish camera tricks up his sleeve(particularly how he frames reflections of faces using such items as a cigarette case with a mirror, wine spill reflecting Savalas's face, etc). And, his use of the fish-eye lens is astounding. And, that ending, which might dismay many, I felt was a knock-out. Like the fresco containing the devil carrying a dead man, no one can escape fate. Within the film there's a killer on the loose bashing heads in with a cane(with blood splattering like spilled paint on the camera lens)so Bava also lets his grisly side run rampant. Bava injects his film with the sordid history of two families..Max and his mother's and Sophia & Frank. These elements add spice to the proceedings as a victim is run over numerous times by a vehicle and tragic consequences await others at the hands of a very unbalanced Maximilian who will do whatever it takes to not lose Lisa like he *lost* Helena. I really got a kick out of Savales and his behavior towards the mannequins, and just the delight he carries when around potential victims. It seems Bava and Savales both knew how to relate their macabre joy to the viewer, and their collaborative efforts go noticed. They understand what lies within the framework of the story(..these characters and how they are doomed, destined for tragic ends)and have fun with the material, presenting to us in only the grandest way possible from start to finish. These two were made for each other.

House of Exorcism is basically a travesty, an abomination where a co-producer(..this being Alfred Leone)takes a perfectly fine film well visualized by a true master of the macabre and creates instead a ludicrous, unnecessary rehash of The Exorcist, adding material with Robert Alda(..attempting desperately to bring sincerity and dignity to his role as a wounded priest, despite the hilariously profane gibberish coming from a possessed Elke Sommer's mouth), splicing in footage from "Lisa and the Devil" to pad everything out to cash in on another religious shocker's success. Also added that you won't see in Bava's finished product of "Lisa and the Devil", are scenes of Sommer and Koscina's nice breasts being fondled and kissed(..Sommer's by Orano during the notorious lovemaking scene where an unconscious Lisa has been drugged by Maximilian who subsequently disrobes her as his imprisoned former flame, Helena's skeletal corpse lies a few feet away;Koscina's by Tinti during their sordid sex scene while hubby Fajardo is away looking for a tub to bathe in). And one nasty aftermath of Koscina's demise displaying the spiked-end of a cane buried in her skull. But, a great deal of "House of Exorcism" displays the ugly side of a demon inside Lisa causing her to move and convulse her body wildly while saying vulgar comments toward the priest. There's even a scene where the demon takes the shape of the priest's naked wife, who we see dying in a burning car in a haunting flashback. But, all this is quite an embarrassment, especially if you have just finished the elegant, romantic, yet lurid and morbid "Lisa and the Devil". Sommer sure commits to the role of possessed innocent, really piling on the histrionics. Stick with a true artist's vision and watch "House of Exorcism" for laughs if you're really bored. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to have your film butchered in such a way.
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Devilled Egghead
Bezenby3 February 2018
It becomes clear almost from the outset that with this film Bava is out to mess with our heads and narrative cohesion isn't a priority, so it's best just to sit back and enjoy the ride, knowing you're in good hands. While viewing a strange fresco in a town on holiday, Lisa becomes distracted by the sound of music and in a small shop off the beaten track finds a music box with some creepy figurines spinning on top. She tries to buy it but learns that it belongs to the shop's only other customer: Telly Savalas, who greatly resembles a figure on the fresco that was described as the devil! Telly for some reason is carrying a life-sized figure of a man and finds it highly amusing when Lisa runs off.

Lisa soon gets lost and after wandering around the strange streets, has to ask someone for directions, and that someone is Telly Savalas! This is where Bava starts really messing with us as the dummy in his hands is obviously actually played by an actor - but only in certain shots. Things get even more confusing when Lisa encounters a live version of the dummy who falls down a flight of stairs and dies. Eventually Lisa ends up getting a lift from a bickering couple (the wife of whom is having an affair with her chauffer) and they all end up at the usual huge mansion/castle inhabited by angry man Maximillian, his blind mother Alida Valli, and chirpy butler Telly Savalas, complete with Kojack lollipop. The house is full of Bava's favourite prop: creepy dolls, and things just get stranger and stranger for here on out.

There's no point in detailing any more of the plot, but it involves murder, mysterious characters locked in rooms surrounded by slices of cake, people becoming dummies and Telly Savalas breaking the ankles of a corpse in order to fit it into a coffin. I was never really sure what was going on at all due to all the mind games Bava was playing. He even has certain characters follow the exact same path through the house using the exact same camera angles which just adds to the surrealism, and through it all Telly Savalas acts like that whole thing is some bizarre comedy. It all works for me though!

He also has the light shine deliberately off of Savalas' head quite often too, films the action from above or below, and uses an awful lot of colour wherever he can. My favourite set was the mock-funeral that is later smashed to pieces by one of the characters. I wasn't expecting the film to be off the wall as much as it was and was nicely surprised.

Perhaps it was this film that Umberto Lenzi and Lucio Fulci had in mind when they directed the House of Doom series in the late Eighties? I was getting a severe House of Clocks vibe from this film.
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A beautifully stylish and incredibly bizarre trip.
lost-in-limbo5 July 2005
Lisa (Elke Sommer) who is a tourist gets lost from her group in an ancient Spanish city, but she come across a couple Mr Frank Lehar, his wife Sofia and chauffeur and gets a lift off them. Though, its short-lived as the car breaks down near an old villa. So they are invited to spend the night in the old, dark villa. The mansion's occupants are acting all strange and the dreary atmosphere takes hold. One by one, they meet their doom and Leandro (Telly Savalas) the villa's butler seems to have something to do with it. Could he be the devil himself who's toying with these guests or is it all a nightmare?

Well, this was the first film I've seen of director/writer Mario Bava and I got to say I was truly amazed by it. Bava's "Lisa and the devil" is a slickly well-crafted surreal thriller that messes with our minds with its simply fetching details and a disquietingly grim atmosphere. It's one very picturesque film that holds superb composition and such flair in the lighting, backdrop, score and atmosphere. From the elegant scenery of the ancient city to the old fancy villa that holds such a morbid awe and to what builds on that is a strikingly eerie, but delicate score. While the brood atmosphere is sheer alienating and the fluid camera-work truly does capture that disorientating mood. The villa is covered with colourful artwork and luxurious furniture, which fills every room. The film is gracefully shot with plenty of zooms and also catching reflections and silhouettes. The location photography was excellent. These sublime images and score really built on the absorbing texture and peculiar state of the film. Plus under all that are an elegantly erotic undertone and a film that flows with pure originality.

Premise is incredibly absurd and there's hardly no characterisation. Maybe there was too much going on in the flawed story, as it was downright confusing at times to know what was actually happening because the story would lead to a dead end. Overall it just felt like a blur. Though, yet again maybe it was meant to be like that? You are definitely lost and put off-balance just like Lisa is to what's reality and what's not. It's a baffling mystery that you could say comes across as rich poetry and art and you also pick up on little subtle hints throughout the story. The dialogue is rather sparse, but interesting if a little cheesy at times. You could probably say not much is going on with Lisa just wandering around the villa and there's a fairly slow pace to it all to begin with, but this is an atmospheric and physiological builder. Some scenes did drag on for too long and sometimes it gets a bit too sappy, but these things didn't take away from the film. The horror isn't that horrific, but it plays more on the images, sounds and atmosphere. Definitely the second half of the film is when it starts to get exciting and even more unnerving. This is when Bava tightens the screws with some well-designed shocks and jolts. By achieving some haunting images and a heart-stopping finale, literally. As each one the characters give into jealousy, hatred, lust and finally into their own demise. The characters turn out to be nothing more than pawns in this story and you question who's pulling whose strings. Most of the acting does come across as rather one-note or melodramatic. Telly Savalas steals the film as a lollipop sucking butler, who seems to have some hidden agenda and playing with these people's souls. His performance is sinisterly impressive in a manipulative nature and his dialogue is always a play on words. The gorgeous Elke Sommer shines in her role. Her dialogue might be pretty limited but her presence is enough to fit the bill.

Incredibly lavish film-making that is particularly dreamlike and a marvel to look at. When it ends you'll be left scratching your head.
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Eerie, surreal, and strangely beautiful - one of Bava's best!
Nightman8527 September 2009
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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Mario Bava's formulaic horror movie with bizarre and chilling events , being filmed in Toledo , Spain
ma-cortes3 January 2007
Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a young woman as tourist in a Spanish old city named Toledo . She then is lost and taken by a marriage (Sylva Koscina and Eduardo Fajardo) and their chauffeur (Gabriele Tinti) . They find shelter into a luxurious mansion where inhabits strange characters , a countess (Alida Valli) , his son (Alessio Orano) and the butler (Telly Savalas).

The picture belongs to Italian horror genre , Mario Bava along Riccardo Freda (Secret of Dr Hitchcock , Vampires , The spectre) and subsequently Dario Argento (Deep red , Suspira , Inferno) are the fundamental creators of Latin terror genre . Mario Bava directed excellent horror movies (Mask of demon , Black Sunday , Black lace , Planet of vampires) and mediocre (Baron of blood , Bay of Blood , Shock) horror films . These movies are characterized by slick edition , usual zooms , special overblown use of colour in a glimmer red blood and utilization of shock-images . The film gets an attractive and enjoyable casting , a gorgeous Elke Sommer (The prize) , an enticing Sylva Koscina (Miguel Strogoff) , a veteran Alida Valli (The Paradine trial) and a sympathetic devil with lollipop included played by Telly Savalas (Kojak) . Magnificent and colorful cinematography by Cecilio Paniagua with intervention by the same Bava like is habitual in all his movies , as he's usually cameraman . The musical background was composed by Joaquin Rodrigo with his famous 'Concert of Aranjuez' and the score by Carlo Savina . There is another version called ¨House of Exorcism¨ for the American market adding some images about a priest (Robert Alda) , rip off from ¨The exorcist¨ , making spells , enchantment , exorcisms which results to be embarrassment and ridiculous . The motion picture will appeal to Mario Bava's hardcore fans .
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Bava hath done better
The_Void2 August 2004
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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Stylish and extremely elegant…another Mario Bava triumph!
Coventry26 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
(Small spoilers included) According to the title, I'm reviewing the House of Exorcism here but I better start by saying that the below discussed version is `Lisa and the Devil' in all the glory like Mario Bava intended it! The House of Exorcism adds a whole bunch of needless elements and it doesn't even credit Bava as a director! Talking about blasphemy! Lisa and the Devil however, is a pure Bava masterpiece and one of the most beautiful horror movies ever made. Like only he can show it, this film breathes a horrific atmosphere of mystery and morbidity. It's about the young American girl – Lisa – who's lost in the Spanish city of Toledo. She spends the night in a ghoulish and ancient house with the blind landlady, her vicious son and the spooky housekeeper (a terrific portrayal by Telly Savalas) Lisa is seen as the reincarnation of the lost love-interest of the son and he becomes possessive over her. Unfortunately, the lost lover of son Maximillian wasn't very faithful and Lisa might take the punishment for that now… Once again, Bava gives a nightmarish portrayal of a sinister setting, filled with bizarre figures and religious themes. Unlike some of his other films, Lisa and the Devil has an intelligent and compelling script that thrills you right from the first second and until the very last. You just stare at this film with wide-open eyes and huge fascination. Beautiful scenery, stunning cinematography and magnificent make-up effects…all trademarks that make horror so great are present in Lisa and the Devil. If you're looking for breath-taking horror, Mario Bava is the way!
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Weird and Spooky Ghost Story
claudio_carvalho14 July 2009
During the sightseeing in Toledo, Spain, the tourist Lisa Reiner (Elke Sommer) sees an ancient painting of the devil on the wall and leaves her group for a moment; however she gets lost in the narrow streets. Later she gets a lift with the wealthy Francis Lehar (Eduardo Fajardo) and his wife Sophia (Sylva Koscina). However, their car breaks and stops in front of an old manor. While the driver George (Gabriele Tinti) tries to fix the car, the trio is hosted by the blind owner (Alida Valli) and her son Maximilian (Alessio Orano) that invites Lisa to spend the night in the mansion. During the dinner, they are served by the butler Leandro (Telly Savalas) that resembles the image of the devil of the painting. Lisa seems to be living a strange nightmare, recalling her love from a past life, and trapped in the house with that bizarre family.

The stylish and surrealistic "Lisa and the Devil" is a weird and spooky ghost story developed in a nightmarish atmosphere. The movie is visually very impressive and despite of the flaws and inconsistencies in the ambiguous screenplay, it startles many times. Elke Sommer is extremely sexy and Telly Savalas is very frightening. The conclusion is a little disappointing. My vote is seven.

Fortunately I saw "Lisa and the Devil" first; the opportunist commercial version released in USA with the title "The House of the Exorcism" on the trail of the success of "The Exorcist" is terrible and destroys the creepy atmosphere of the original movie. The good thing is the greater eroticism and exposure of the naked body of Elke Sommer. My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): "Lisa e o Diabo" ("Lisa and the Devil")

Note: On 11 June 2015 I saw this movie again.
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The peanut butter cup of horror
coolrog070517 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
warning contains spoiler - Here we have a case where the creators own artistic genius has worked against him, at least in the business end of film making process that is. there is a lot of controversy surrounding this movie because it is two films in one. the first is Lisa and the Devil which is the Godiva chocolate end of this cup with Bava's trademark lush cinematography and atmosphere. while art is always subjective here is my take on Lisa. many people have complained about a lack of plot to this film but that is because it does not have a linear narrative. to make a long story short it is a game of cat and mouse between Lisa and the devil. Lisa portrayed by the beautiful Elke Sommer is a soul actually named Elanor that has escaped from hell and is reincarnated as Lisa but has no conscious memory of it. she does not know that the devil "Telly Savalas" has allowed this to happen because he enjoys playing these games as a form of amusement. Lisa is led to a picturesque villa where all the other characters while unknown to her are the living dead. this is illustrated when we see them as mannequins or the devils dolls when handled by the devil and in contrast as living beings when seen by Lisa who is herself one of them. these trapped souls are forced to play the game and also live out their own personal hell for all eternity at the villa. so if you look at it from the perspective that this is a life size doll house in Hell the film might make more sense to you. of course in the end it all comes full circle and the devil reclaims her and this is when you find out that she really is Elanor because the devil speaks her name. now for the peanut butter end of the cup which is The House of Exorcism. while Lisa was liked by the distributors they understood it was not commercially viable as a general audience film so they passed on it. producer Alfredo Leone in an effort to recoup his investment had new sequences shot and integrated them with Lisa. while it is commonly believed and somewhat understandable people think that this was a cash in film on "The Exorcist" it is not. had the original story been written solely as a response to "The Exorcist" then yes it would be but that is not the case. I believe it was more along the lines of desperate opportunism rather than just a blatant tailcoat ride. Bava of course was upset that this had happened to his most personal work but in the end he privately told Leone that considering the circumstances he approved of the film after he had time to calm down and look at it objectively. in the end films are entertainment as well as art. Lisa is art and House of Exorcism is entertainment. I think it's cool that you get two great tastes out of one film.
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Vivid, gaudy, atmospheric, Gothic.
sunznc7 August 2013
Lisa and the Devil makes me think of Susperia. In fact, I think those sheer curtains with the appliqués that hang around the 4 poster bed were later used in Susperia. I've seen that film so many times I recognize those.

Anyway, Lisa and the Devil is very low on dialog and big on atmosphere. Much like Susperia, we have the strange lighting, gaudy set pieces, beautiful sets and props, many rooms with fancy wainscoting and molding, and acting that is just slightly off. Dubbing that doesn't quite match up in a subtle way and eerie, dreamy music while the actors stare off into the distance or right into the lens of the camera.

Dialog? Striped down to minimum. Story? Simple enough with a woman straying from her tourist group in a foreign city, wandering alone because she has heard some chimes. But what happens to her? She becomes ensconced in a surreal setting with people living in an old, Gothic mansion. But is it all real? Or is it all in her head? Are the murders really happening or did they happen many years ago?

It's up to you to decide what the ending means. You'll probably enjoy the ride but don't expect anything too, too intense or deep here.
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Superb Movie
lovecraftgames27 November 2016
This movie was excellent in every level! Hell, it might be even my favorite Italian horror movie and it is one of my 20 favorite horror movies ever. To explain this movie's brilliance, I should explain a little bit of backstory... This is the movie the director Mario Bava wanted to do for years, but no studio wanted to pick this project up, because the story is so open to interpretation and so non-linear that they thought it would be a flop. Well, he got what he wanted, he could shoot the movie, the problem is that when he finished the movie, the producer said that it would be a flop, convinced him to drop it out, and turn the movie into a The Exorcist rip-off, called House of Exorcism, which I did not have the displeasure of see, but based on what I read about the movie I can say that I'm not losing much. House of Exorcism was a critical and box-office fail. The thing is, Lisa and the Devil is so good that before they blocked the movie the critics still got a screening. And the movie was a hit! Critics loved it. But thank god they restored this gem and now we get to see it in its integrity. This movie's script is genius because it truly looks and feels like a nightmare, it's truly dream-like, not some Inception bullshit. And the art direction in this movie is truly fantastical. This is one of the best looking movies I've ever watched. And it's so open-to-interpretation, that you can make whatever you want from the story, which is more simple as you think it is on first viewing. This movie should become a cult-classic, and it should be watched many many times. I watched it three times already, and I plan on watching many many more times...
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deliciously atmospheric and just plain yummy
reasonbran2345 January 2002
i asked for "lisa and the devil" as a christmas present because I've always been a huge fan of dario argento, and it is common knowledge that he was in part inspired by the work of mario bava. i was not disappointed! like argento, bava has no concern for realism or complex character development and keeps it to the level of what it is, a horror film. it is hallucinatory, imaginative, intriguing, and also works as suspense, even if a little too campy for that genre. telly savalas does an excellent job as satan, and i loved how he enjoyed his trademark lollipop even during an italian horror film as though to say--"the devil loves ya, baby!" modern horror directors get everything wrong and make the mistake of thinking that meaningless action and excessive gore make an effective and memorable film, when nothing could be further from the truth. bava works with mystery and imagination, the two essential ingredients without which there can be no "horror" worthy of the name. of course, both the dialogue and behavior of the characters are ludicrous and laughably erratic, but you should come in expecting this from anyone who helped to inspire argento's film. "lisa and the devil" ranks up there with "suspiria" and "inferno", hands down. check it out.
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A waking nightmare
drownnnsoda28 December 2015
"Lisa and the Devil" follows a woman touring Spain who wanders from her tour group; she becomes transfixed by a portrait of the devil in a fresco, and begins to lose sense of herself, time, and space as she seems to enter a waking nightmare.

Perhaps Mario Bava's most surrealist offering, "Lisa and the Devil" was re-edited and grossly manipulated with reshoots upon its U.S. release, ending up with an entirely new title: "House of Exorcism." The differences between the two versions are so extreme that they literally are completely different films in both tone and narrative. You may be wondering how a film can so easily be reworked in such a way, but Bava's loose and unanchored narrative makes it fairly easy.

"Lisa and the Devil" is a legitimately engrossing epic fantasy that is both unnerving and aesthetically gorgeous. Anyone who knows Bava knows the visual flair of his films, and this one is no exception. The film retains a kitschy late sixties look to it, and in some ways reminds me of Jess Franco's "Succubus," which was made several years prior—I do think "Lisa and the Devil" is ultimately the better film, no question, but they both share in common the floaty dreamscape backdrops in which a woman finds herself.

The film is genuinely weird and disorienting at times, but never in a way that disenfranchises the viewer; what's perhaps most intriguing is that it essentially begins in medias res, taking a fairly mundane situation (a woman touring a city) and throwing it straight down the rabbit hole. Even at its most incoherent, the film maintains a spellbinding quality about it. Elke Sommer has a transfixing screen presence as the titular Lisa, while Telly Savalas is appropriately creepy as the devilish figure of Leandro. The film's conclusion is downbeat and fairly unexpected; the final plane scene is inventive and phenomenally nightmarish.

All in all, "Lisa and the Devil" is a great surrealist horror film, and a steadfast example of Bava's later, more narratively playful offerings. The film has aged fairly well, and retained a heady European Gothic atmosphere. The viewer really feels enough perturbation in the thick of the nightmare that it remains an overall effective film to this day, and at the very least it is a visually sharp detour into an unexpected hell. 8/10.
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LISA AND THE DEVIL (Mario Bava, 1973) ***
Bunuel19762 September 2014
This was my third time watching this most personal of Bava's works: whether it is due to the fact that the last two occasions proved problematic (the original Image Entertainment DVD experienced an audio glitch during playback that nearly blasted my TV speakers, while there were constant audio-related issues on the Italian-language track of the copy I acquired of the movie's Raro Video edition!) or the shadow that always loomed large over it in the shape of the execrable re-edit THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM (1975), I have never been really taken with the film as many others seem to be!! Truth be told, watching the featurette "EXORCISING LISA" soon after, I was sort of glad to realize that I was not quite alone in this – as both assistant director and the director's own son Lamberto Bava (who always felt the end result, even in its true incarnation, was impenetrable and somewhat unresolved!) and Bava scholar Alberto Pezzotta (suggesting that the time of Gothic Horror had passed and that, other than merely ethereal, it was elegiac and self-referential!) disclaim its masterpiece status!! Incidentally, though the script is attributed to the elder Bava and producer Alfred Leone on foreign prints (as a matter of fact, throughout my ongoing Bava centenary tribute, it has been a constant irritation to find English credits on Italian-language editions of his pictures!), it was actually penned by other hands – including Roberto Natale, who also puts in an appearance in the 25-minute doc!! Incidentally, while ostensibly an original, elements from it could be traced to several short stories dutifully namechecked during said featurette as well as Tim Lucas' audio commentary…

Mind you, the movie is undeniably intriguing (in my review of the director's KILL, BABY…KILL! {1966}, also co-written by Natale and a film whose stature seems to grow with each viewing, I mention how LISA owes a debt to it in the desolate narrow streets/decaying villa settings and the general nightmarish vibe) and, yet, it comes off as strangely aloof: one does not really connect with any of the characters throughout…especially, as with A BAY OF BLOOD (1971), these largely seem to be on hand merely to ratchet up the 'body count' department (did we really need an additional love triangle to the mind-boggling quintet – taking into consideration that Elke Sommer here undertakes a dual role – already involved?!). The score by Carlo Savina (with generous but effective sprinklings of Joaquin Rodrigo's famous "Concierto De Aranjuez") is a major asset, as is the bemused presence of Telly Savalas (obviously assuming the latter half of the titular parts, scheming and manipulating the various figures around – in both their human form and lookalike mannequins – as if they were pieces on an invisible chess board…while under the guise of an overworked and, seminally, lollipop-sucking butler!). The rest of the cast, however, are only so-so: Alessio Orano is, fatally, unsympathetic as an impotent necrophile(!); Alida Valli, on the other hand, is imposing as ever playing his aristocratic and over-protective blind mother; and Espartaco Santoni is decidedly baffling as the latter's husband and the former's rival for love of his own spouse Sommer (his comings and goings, sometimes literally from death to life, eventually grew irritating!); while Sylva Koscina, Eduardo Fajardo and Gabriele Tinti, as already intimated, are at once underused and downright redundant! Typical of Bava, too, the movie's look cannot be faulted (despite having a Spanish d.p., with a penchant for shooting in soft-focus, forced on him), effortlessly moving between the modern-day 'bookends' and the period milieu of its central narrative.

By the way, given that I am going through the director's filmography in a non-linear fashion, it becomes interesting to note parallels between efforts that one would probably overlook if they were to be viewed chronologically; recently, for instance, I picked up on how SHOCK (1977) is pretty much a reworking of THE WHIP AND THE BODY (1963) and even HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON (1970) in its depiction of a deranged protagonist coming to terms with a crime that had been all but blocked out of its consciousness. Having just re-acquainted myself with the latter prior to my screening LISA, which I took as Bava's most Buñuelian work (in view of its leading man's affinity with the latter's Archibaldo De La Cruz), here we have an ending – the Devil adopting modern means of transportation – which recalls the Surrealist maestro's slyly abrupt way of concluding his SIMON OF THE DESERT (1965)! Since both Bava films were actually shot in Spain, could it be that the cultured yet self-effacing Italian was drawn to checking out the oeuvre of the country's most celebrated celluloid son at some point during their making? That said, Lucas claims the device – along with the film's inherent oneiric tone – was actually a direct allusion to Roger Vadim's "Carmilla" adaptation: different strokes for different folks, I guess! The audio commentary did sometimes go overboard in trying to match the poetic quality of the picture: the last rose of the season plucked by Orano for Sommer at one point apparently stood for Bava's own last gasp at making an international name for himself – if you say so, Tim…but, then, I was grateful to learn that Bava appreciated the work of Georges Franju and, indeed, it had never occurred to me before that he recruited two ladies from his films, i.e. Valli (from EYES WITHOUT A FACE {1960} – her mannered death scene being even incorporated in the finale here) and Koscina (from JUDEX {1963}), for LISA!

In the end, while not quite among the director's greatest, the film under review is still vastly preferable to its bastardization THE HOUSE OF EXORCISM…which, regrettably, will follow presently in my (41-strong but by-now inevitably winding down) Bava marathon.
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Thorsten-Krings30 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The film doesn't quite add up to a movie which is mainly because it is actually Bava's Lisa and the devil and additional scenes shot by the producer. Lisa and the Devil had found critical acclaim but no distributor so after the success of The Exorcist the producer, Alfredo Leone, wanted to re-cut the film into a rip off of The Exorcist. For this additional scenes were shot. These were pretty strong and blasphemous so both Bava and Sommer did not participate which clearly shows in the film. The original had interesting elements such as the use of the puppets as symbols but due to the cuts in the original version this adds more the the confusion of the viewer than anything else. The Bava parts of the film were pretty stylish and well made (and yes, we get to see both Elke sommer's and Sylvia Kscina's boobs) but all in all the script has the inherent silliness of most bava movies. Savallas is having a field day reprising Blofeld and introducing us to the lollipop munching Savallas we know from TV. Nice over the tops performances all around which fit with the somewhat baroque style odd the original film. The exorcism scenes in the hospital are pretty over the top with green vomit and frogs, nude temptation and an actress who so very obviously is not Elke Sommer.
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Luis Bunuel Goes to Hell
myboigie1 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream - a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought - a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!"

--from Mark Twain's, "Number 44: the Mysterious Stranger"

This is often listed as Mario Bava's best-film, and it's pretty good. There is a cosmological-horror here that mirrors Lovecraft, and predates a similar-approach that Lucio Fulci would employ--a kind of ubiquitous-horror that has consumed everything. A place of no-escape. If this sounds like a Michele Soavi film, you're correct! I think Cemetery Man/Dellamore Dellamorte owes a great-debt to this film, as well as a few others from Bava's body-of-work. If you've ever had a feeling that dream-reality is more concrete than our own, this one is for you. The subconscious runs-riot in most of Bava's films, and his producer (Alfred Leone) let him do whatever he wanted here. The results are impressive, though the film suffers from a tedious middle. Alas, when it was screened at Cannes in 1973, nobody was offering much for a distribution-deal, so Leone had Bava shoot additions that would remake Lisa & the Devil into "House of Exorcism". The stories that Bava didn't shoot any of the retakes and additional-footage are untrue, he did. 1975 rolled-around, and House of Exorcism got a good distro-deal, and is cited as one of the most-successful Exorcist-ripoffs.

But, the original-cut by Bava somehow survived in TV-syndication copies, and was relocated in the 1980s. Finally, in the 1990s, Anchor Bay released VHS-versions of both-cuts to add-to-the-confusion. But, at-least Lisa & the Devil was now available to the fans, which was something even Bava was unable to enjoy in his lifetime. He died believing his cut had been lost, forgotten forever. Mario Bava thought all of his films would be forgotten. It's no-secret that without the championing of Tim Lucas (and even Joe Dante and Martin Scorsese), most of Bava's films would probably have met the fate he expected them to meet. So, there is a confusion about these two films, and they should be viewed as separate. Lisa & the Devil has nothing to do with possession or exorcism, only House of Exorcism does. It is a recut-version of Lisa, but it has its own merits (another story).

In the story, Lisa (Elke Sommer) is a tourist to a small Spanish village, one which she has become-convinced she has been-to before. She views a Medieval-painting on her entry into the town, which depicts the devil tormenting the souls of the damned. Throughout the film, she encounters a mysterious-man (played by Telly Savalas) who is often seen carrying a mannequin of a mustachioed-man in a suit. Other-times, the dummy seems alive, a real body made of flesh-and-blood, a nice touch of surrealist-cinema. Before-long, Lisa has made her way to an old Spanish Manse populated by a demented aristocratic-family with a butler named Landre who's Savalas again. Is Lisa wrong? Did she see the Butler controlling the family-members? Did she see the butler breaking the legs of a cadaver to fit it into a coffin (a nod to Lovecraft, one of Bava's favorite writers)? Has the family's sole male-heir a fixation (sexually) on the dead? Is this life death-itself? Is Lisa alive? What is this place? What is this life? By the end, you will know, and it will make you despair.

This is one creepy movie, one that will haunt you for days, maybe forever. In a way, it's the last, great Gothic horror-film. Very few movies say "death" this many times over, and Lisa & the Devil is a film about the loneliness of the human-condition. Conveying the hell that is solitude, it even has some echoes of Mark Twain's final-novel, "Number 44: The Mysterious Stranger" (written-from 1890 and 1910), where the main-character realizes he is a unitary-God, alone in the abyss. Everything in the story--all the characters, events--was part-of a dream conjured-up to hide this fact.

The best route for this film on DVD is to buy the double-feature that includes House of Exorcism. Sadly, Image didn't do a recut with Lisa & the Devil from the superior film-elements from House of Exorcism, it's a little weaker in image-quality. Why they would make House look-better is a mystery, but at least we have a full-cut of the film. There have been rumors that Anchor Bay is obtaining the rights to do fully-remastered versions of the Bava-catalog that Image has previously-held. If they do HD-transfers, that would be great, as most of the Image-versions have been from inferior-materials. Bava's films are best-appreciated fully-restored, or at least from good elements. We'll see.
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Great minus the "Exorcist" scenes
horrorbargainbin3 July 2002
We all know that the possession scenes used to narrate the film were tacked on to capitalize on the recent success of The Exorcist. That said the movie has two plots which do not merge well together. Quite frankly the exorcism material is an awful mess of puke on the walls and references to whores. Yes, the pea soup scene is duplicated as is the thrashing, floating, and demonic vocal styles. Still, horror fans might enjoy watching this crud just for kicks.

The other film, available as Lisa and the Devil - I was NOT lucky enough to find for four dollars in the video clearance bin. Too bad for me because it's spectacular. Each scene is intense due to Bava's direction. There is much use of reflected faces and close-ups of eyes. Emotions are caught by the camera without fail. I wish I could see this movie uncut so I could appreciate it on more than a scene by scene basis. The violence is more than memorable enough to please and most of the lines sound pretty cool. Even this messy version is worth watching if you have a taste for horror.
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Haunting Horror Film From Director Mario Bava
FloatingOpera714 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
La Casa Dell'esorcismo (The House of Exorcism)or "Lisa And The Devil" (1973): Starring Telly Savalas, Elke Sommer, Robert Alda, Kathy Leone, Alessio Orano, Sylva Koscina, Gabriele Tinti, Eduardo Fajardo, Carmen Silva, Franz Von Treuberg, Espartaco Santoni, Alida Valli....Director Mario Bava....Screenplay Alfredo Leone.

Released in 1973, at a time when well-made horror films were being taken as seriously as dramatic films (example: The Exorcist), Italian horror film director Mario Bava's's "House of Exorcism" is either a well-made and genuinely frightening film or a sloppy, over-the-top horror junk film. The film was released in two versions, one released only in Italy and Europe and another in America. The American release is known as "Lisa and the Devil" and it's very toned down from its original gore. In "Lisa and the Devil", actress Elke Sommer portrays American tourist Lisa Reiner. While visiting an Renaissance city in Catholic Spain, she comes across an antique shop with startlingly disturbing death maks, devil figures and torture instruments from the Inquisition. Eventually, she becomes lost with her group of friends and their car breaks down on a rainy night in front of a magnificent but scary-looking mansion. An old blind countess (Alida Vali) her young son (Espartaco Santoni)and a sinister butler Leandro (Telly Savalas) live there. Mayhem, murder, lust and violence ensue in the course of their stay in the mansion. The difference between the Italian and American versions is that the Italian version is pure camp, a typical style of filth that was actually very mainstream in Europe during the early to mid 70's. "Eurotrash horror". Excessive violence and floods of blood does not make a good horror film. Nor does graphic and disturbing sex (in the case of this film mother/son incest and necrophilia) The old blind countess may have sexual feelings for her son, but in the American film this is implied and it seems to be the cause of her frustration and her violent nature. But the lingering dramatic suspense, and the subtlety of it all is superior to the Italian gorefest. Also, there is much more of a haunting quality to the American film, even if the ending is not satisfactory and doesn't resolve anything. The creepy butler Leandro is played by Telly Savalas who at this time was very well-known in America as Agent Kojax in the series "Kojax". The cinematography of Cecilio Paniagua is really quite good. There's a hazy, dreamy quality and surrealism which is effectively dramatic and haunting. This film has all the potential for a great film but the Italian version ruined it for everyone. Many find the American version to be dull and talky while the Italian edition is at the other extreme- too violent, too filthy.
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My favorite Mario Bava film
Zar22 August 1999
At the first viewing the dreamlike, surreal story of "Lisa and the Devil" reminded me of "Carnival of Souls". What are we to believe? What actually happens to Lisa and what are illusions? Is she trapped in a nightmare, is she a ghost, did she ever exist? But on close inspection the answer seems to be more open (or cryptic), more like "Lost Highway".

My favorite Mario Bava film, a close run with "The Mask of Satan". Fans of fast action and gore be warned: this is slow going, but great going. Oh, and admire the stunning camera work!
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With Kojak and the woman from one of the "Pink Panther" movies, how can you go wrong?
lee_eisenberg19 May 2005
This is the first Mario Bava movie that I've ever seen, and if it's any indication, I'm going to like the rest of his movies. While traveling in Spain, Lisa Reiner (Elke Sommer) gets lost. She hitches a ride with a couple and they end up in a house inhabited by a blind woman, her strange son, and the housekeeper (Telly Savalas). Everything seems normal at first, but bizarre things begin to happen, and we eventually discover that there are many things about each character that we don't know.

Much of the horror in "La Casa dell'esorcismo" (the American title is "Lisa and the Devil") comes from camera angle and blurred shots, creating the sense of descent into terror and madness. The whole movie was a little bit silly, but it's actually quite interesting. Telly Savalas is lascivious as ever, and Elke Sommer is really one hot babe. I definitely recommend this movie
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A beautiful movie in its original form
Casey-528 July 1999
Warning: Spoilers
Have you ever seen CARNIVAL OF SOULS? Well, that is the basic plot of LISA AND THE DEVIL except it is more mystical, beautiful, and sensual. Elke Sommer plays Lisa, a tourist who becomes involved with an intricate plot of mannequins, murders, and necrophilia in the family home of a countess and her estranged son. The movie is one that you have to pay VERY close attention to, every scene has importance. I think everyone has their own opinion on the meaning of this film, it's very fun to draw your own up. It feels like the movie grabbed hold of you and you are actually part of the mystery. This is a must-have movie.
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One of the most artistic horror films you can find.
MartinHafer26 March 2011
I agree with one of the reviewers that said that the narrative of this film wasn't terribly important--and is subject to many possible interpretations. It's one of those films where the plot, believe it or not, isn't all that important--and this aspect makes "Lisa and the Devil" a lot like another good horror film, "Suspiria"--and that's putting the film in very good company.

Elke Sommer is on vacation. Soon after seeing a mega-creepy fresco from the Middle Ages with a demonic creature that looks like Telly Savalas, she sees the real life Savalas! A bit later, when she is traveling, she gets stranded and seeks shelter in a mansion. Take a guess who the butler is--yep, Telly again! Who exactly he is during the film is pretty vague--and I kind of like that. All around him, horrible and grisly things keep occurring--and time and again you wonder when poor Elke will be killed--especially when everyone else but her and Telly seem to die. I say 'seem' because it's all rather vague...and weird...and creepy--very, very creepy.

While I think the horror films of Mario Bava vary tremendously in quality, this one impressed me. His direction was great---very, very artistic. And, very beautiful. In fact, in a nude scene late in the film, you don't feel it's the least bit gratuitous--it's more like a lovely work of art--even if some of it also involves a weird necrophilic murderer! just have to see this one.

By the way, this film flopped at the box office and some sleazy jerks re-edited the film and added some scenes to make an entirely new film. "House of Exorcism" was made of the film in order to cash in on the success of "The Exorcist" and is widely regarded as a terrible film. Well, if you get the DVD for "Lisa and the Devil", BOTH films are included so you can see both versions and make your own decision. That's pretty cool and as I write this I am watching "House of Exorcism".

UPDATE: Apparently there is no separate page for both films--just one for "Lisa and the Devil"--so my review for the bastardized re- working is included here: An obvious difference you soon notice is that a different person dubbed Sommer's voice. Also, the very nice but repetitious song that repeats throughout the movie is used less often--making the film seem a bit quieter and not quite as artistic. In fact, Bava did not direct these new scenes--and the new portions lack the artistic quality of the rest of the film. In fact, the film is, at times, pretty incomprehensible as it cuts back between old footage and new. And, unlike the original film, the nudity is very gratuitous (and more explicit) and doesn't make much sense (such as when Elke becomes a black lady!). All in all, a terrible film--one which unfortunately harmed the reputation of "Lisa and the Devil". I'd give this one a 3--and that's being generous.

UPDATE: Since I originally posted this review, IMDb has now created a separate page for "House of Exorcism" and it gets its just desserts as a terrible film and "Lisa and the Devil" avoids this distinction.
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