Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exorcismo (1975), Or The Power of Naschy Compels You!

*Naschy Week 2009 continues with the Duke’s take on one of Naschy’s less action-packed but no less thrilling offerings, Exorcismo. Can the Duke stand the sight of Naschy dressed in a priest outfit without his nipples exploding with delight?! Let’s find out!*

Dearest friends, I bid thee well met! It is I, the Duke of DVD, once more launching myself like a crazed Mongolian horseman into the fray, slaying cinematic foes left and right before finally leaping from my charger to penetrate the nubile princess of celluloid awesome. This dark evening, let us converse once again about the man, the legend, that brought the Vicar and I together: Jacinto Molina, aka Paul Naschy, aka Captain Awesome, aka The Spanish Pec-Monster.

The year is 1975: a young Duke of DVD nuzzles at the teat of his mother, an ill-tempered jackal, and Paul Naschy is looking for a new movie project to helm. Friedkin’s The Exorcist had reached the highest levels of commercial success for films featuring crucifix masturbation a few years previous, so the earth was ripe for a Spanish version. Penning the story and screenplay himself once again, Paul claims that he wrote Exorcismo years previous to The Exorcist. Who are we to question Jacinto, mere mortals we? We do not. Let us just say that The Exorcist obviously had influence over this film, and that it is at least a worthy homage to Friedkin’s effort. There are striking similarities, but we can ignore them.

Ignore them we shall! Cinematic plagiarism or no, this is a Naschy film, so we must cast aside our inhibitions, as well as our clothes, and bask in the divine glory. Our film opens with, what else, a Satanic ritual! A scantily clad priestess carries a golden chalice around letting hippies imbibe what is no doubt a liquid rife with Devil Juice™. Two of the hippie youth are the stunning Leila (played by the smoking Grace Mills), and the bearded, slightly geeky Richard.

"Deep, Duke! I can almost feel it beneath my sternum!"

After getting drunk on Lucifer’s Own Spunk Lite™, they head off in their car, with a tipsy Leila behind the wheel. Burping up sperm-scented air, she hiccups, swerves to miss a car, and careens off a cliff. The effects here impress immediately as an obviously pilotless car rolls down a hill. Apparently this is before seat belts, because both Richard and Leila are tossed from the auto. Richard rushes to Leila’s side to see if she’s ok. She’s apparently well enough to try and twist Richard’s head off! Fainting before she can complete the effort, Richard takes her to the hospital.

At the hospital, Richard is joined by Leila’s brother John and her mother Patricia. Everyone notices how odd Leila is acting, in particular John, who seems to immediately suspect something that only a priest could cure. Very quickly, John sets up a meeting with Father Adrian Dunning, played of course by Naschy, who is sporting a full beard. With just a little silver in his hair, he pulls off the rakishly handsome priest with quiet dignity.

Paul helps a praying mantis decapitate her mate.

John shows up at the church and is quickly ushered into an office by Paul. John explains how his sister’s demeanor has completely changed, how she is offensive and foul. Father Dunning assures him it is probably just the result of the wreck, or perhaps the folly of youth, and certainly the family shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that she’s possessed by Satan Himself. The Father agrees to a personal meeting with Leila, though, at the family estate, just to make sure.

"Greetings friends. I don't always drink the rendered fat of an uncut youth, but when I do, I drink it from a beaker."

The next day, Udo the butler/chauffeur is dispatched to pick up the Father in the family Rolls. Udo, played by Louis Induni, is a freakishly large, totally bald, man who towers over everyone. Why anyone would want such a giant bull of a dude for a chauffeur is beyond me, unless he also doubles as a bodyguard. There’s no indication of this, but Udo’s role in the film expands as we shall see.

Paul finally admits to his affair with the Vicar.

Meanwhile, everyone is gathered around the pool, Leila looking scrumptious in her red bikini. Father Adrian meets with Patricia first, Leila’s mother, who expresses her consternation with Leila’s behavior. The Father meets Leila’s sister Deborah, and then talks with Leila herself. She seems fine, and introduces Father Dunning to the family German Sheppard, a dog named Bork.

Seriously. Bork. The greatest name for a dog in domesticated canine history. Bork.

Bork, people.

Ahem. Anyway, as Father Dunning takes his leave to go chat with John in the greenhouse, we cut to said greenhouse to find John in the middle of giving a good rogering to a married woman whom he’s been seeing for a while apparently. They finish up right before the priest arrives, so Paul is spared the sight of a Barry Gibb clone muff-diving someone. *shudder* The mind reels.

"I've got the Night Fever, baby."

The two have a talk about Leila, and Naschy assures John that he thinks Leila will be fine. He takes his leave, but unfortunately for everyone else, Leila is just getting warmed up! A housekeeper finds John stuffed in a closet, his head twisted around 180 degrees! Once again the Father is called upon to investigate. He heads to Richard’s apartment, and as he’s going up the stairs, he’s rudely pushed down by a person dressed all in black and wearing an admittedly scary Devil mask.

Black cape: $25. Scary Devil Mask: $15. Scaring the pantaloons off the Duke: Priceless.

Father Adrian quickly discovers that the hapless Richard has had his head twisted around as well! Is no head safe from twisting in his town? Not if Leila has anything to say about it! Later, it’s Leila’s birthday and a full party is in swing. A birthday cake is brought out, and something (perhaps the smell of Naschy’s musk) triggers an outburst from Leila. She accuses the party goers of all being “asses” and rushes into a nearby room, slamming the door. Naschy goes to comfort her, but instead finds her writhing on the floor, bellowing like a newborn calf.

"No, Vicar, not the whip again!"

The next day, the police finally get involved with the head-twisting murders. Father Adrian works closely with the lead Inspector, who initially thinks Paul might have something to do with the killings, due to their ritualistic nature and the fact that the Father has studied Satanic ritual for so long. The Inspector has a great line here where he says that the head twisting death was “employed by Satan Himself to take care of witches in His service who displeased Him!” I’m not sure where they got this from, but I like it!

Meanwhile, Leila’s mother Patricia is attacked by an invisible force and once again Father Dunning is called in. Does this guy ever sleep? No! Naschy needs no sleep. Turns out, Leila is missing. Her sister has some suspicions as to where she has gone, and so her and Father Adrian take off to an abandoned tower. Descending into its bowels, they find a full blown Satanic Festival going on! Euro-titty abounds as Leila lies naked as a living altar before dancing, hooded figures. As Paul watches, no doubt fully erect, Udo leaps from the shadows and attacks!

Naschy's version of Two Girls, One Cup, and One Gimp.

It seems that Udo all along has fostered Leila’s growing Satanic leanings, and probably in hopes of giving her a hot beef injection, he’s been watching over her, and in fact has been murdering for her--first John, for getting to suspicious, and then Richard, for having put his filthy hands on Leila. The police show up and drag Udo off for interrogation, which goes badly as Udo frees himself and leaps to his death out a nearby window!

Breath Play, the Naschy Way

Leila is taken back home, where her mother and sister watch in horror as her face transforms and she is in full pea-soup-vomiting mode. One final time, Father Dunning is called in to take care of things. Dressed in full priestly regalia, Paul cuts a striking figure as he faces down the possessed girl. Throwing holy water hither and yon, he begins the rites, but unfortunately forgets to lock the bedroom door, as Leila jumps up and rushes out. Pursuing her, Naschy catches her on the top of the stairs, causing both of them to fall in a wad, tumbling down to the bottom.

"Excuse me, I asked for a 'Duke facial', not the acid facial."

Just as Father Adrian completes the rites of exorcism, the unlucky dog Bork wanders into the room. The demon/Devil seizes the opportunity and jumps straight into poor Bork! Growling like a pack of Hell hounds, Bork attacks Naschy, biting his arm and clawing his face! Paul seizes a nearby fireplace poker and beats the dog with it before finally running it through! The demon, lacking a nearby vessel that isn’t a priest, is beaten. Leila moans and opens her eyes, apparently cured and none the worse for wear, despite having fallen down 2 flights of stairs. We freeze-frame on her angelic face. The end.

"No Bork, Noooooooo!

I’m of two minds about this film. On one hand, it's Naschy, so of course it is great. Paul's ever-present aplomb is in full effect here, especially in the film's climax, where his sweaty brow, piercing gaze, and overall screen presence really shine. On the other hand, this movie is fairly boring. Pretty much 90% of the movie's runtime is filled with talking. Father Dunning talking to John the brother. Father Dunning talking to Leila. Father Dunning stabbing a dog. Ok, not that last one, but you get the idea. Even the head-twisting deaths aren't on film.

"I also play the maracas."

As a take on The Exorcist, though, it is fairly well-realized, but unfortunately other than just throwing a tantrum, Leila really doesn't exhibit much in the way of possession until the final 10 minutes. The movie definitely could have used more Devilish antics, that's for sure. It is high on the Eurobabe quotient, though, which instantly adds at least one Thumb Up. We even get a hint of lesbonic activities as Leila is being used as an altar. These scenes, while titillating, are too brief and too few to really overcome the slowness of the plot, though.

In the end, I would have to give Exorcismo an unfortunate 2 Thumbs Up. I call this normally good score "unfortunate" because Exorcismo could have been so much more. It has plenty of hot women, it has Paul Naschy in a priest outfit throwing holy water, but the movie is weighed down by the long passages of dialogue. The investigation of religious happenings, and also the subject of class, are very much explored, in ways other Naschy writing efforts have in the past, but I couldn't stop myself from wishing that the movie had contained more than 15 minutes of awesome action.

Nevertheless, I must insist that all of our readers hunt up a copy of this film and see for yourself, as ANY Naschy film is worth watching. Once again, Naschy's magnetism and skill expand past the tight confines of a small budget to elevate not just Spanish horror cinema, but all of film.

Pure Awesome.


Michael J. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael J. said...

I am of the mind that Mr. Naschy can rewrite any film, insert himself in any of its roles, perhaps direct it as well, and the result will be compulsory viewing and at least two-thumb worthy. If only he'd taken on the Linda Blair role from The Exorcist! He'd have certainly schooled the young lass on pea-soup vomitus.
But you're right, Duke, His Naschiness does strike a dashing air as priest. And the thought of him violating his nasty bits with a crucifix, well... there's an image better left uncommitted to celluloid. And my brain -- I'm off to the liquor cabinet.

The Vicar of VHS said...

Well done as always, Duke! I too found this one a little slow-going for a Naschy flick--I'm convinced that he was a bit hamstrung by the necessity of keeping his character celebate, which of course negated the Boob Touching Rider on his contract and had to sap a little oomph from the proceedings.

I did think Grace Mills did a fine job as the possessed Leila, however, and wish she had a longer filmography. According to imdb, she starred only in this flick and in NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST as Sylvia. Still, I guess if your filmography is going to be 2 movies long, you still win at having it be 100% NASCHY.

Also from NotHB here: my man Luis Induni, who played the warlord Sekkar Khan in that superior flick.

Still in all, that image of Paul in his priest garb goes a long way to redeeming the talkiness. :)

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