Invalid Ippolita Oderisi (Carla Gravina) is attending a religious ceremony with her father (Mel Ferrer) in the hopes it will improve her health prospects, and she watches some of the others present chanting and even writhing around on the floor in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary. But tragedy is around the corner because one man becomes so lost in his devotion that he takes a fit, rushes out of the building and up on top of the nearby ruins, whereupon he throws himself off. Ippolita is traumatised by this, but not half as worried as she is going to be when the Devil comes a-calling...
Did you enjoy both Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist? Wouldn't it be great if you could combine the most memorable elements of those films into one whole, new film? Well, here's your opportunity for entertainment because director and co-writer Alberto De Martino left behind the spaghetti western genre, which was on the wane, and conjured up what could best be described as a blatant rip-off of the most popular Hollywood horror movies of the past five years or so. And was the result as great as you could imagine from the concept?
Er, no, it was flatly handled and uninspired all over, with the attempts to go one better than its influences ending up looking ridiculous. I suppose if you had never heard of its predecessors then you might have been taken aback at the shenanigans on display here, but a few cheap and unintentional laughs are the best that The Antichrist could muster. Gravina did her best with a thankless role, but mostly you feel sorry that she had to put herself through such tepid histrionics to so little effect. Her imported, American co-stars added nothing of note, either.
It's as if De Martino and his team drew up a list of what to include without really understanding the plot machination and examinations of faith which made those previous films tick. So there's an impregnation by the Devil here, a spot of green vomit there, and it goes as far as having someone fall down a flight of stairs for its climax, bits of business lifted whole from their source for those who wanted more of the same without any of the depth that should have by all rights gone with them. De Martino's work is all on the surface with nobody for us to care for, particularly when it looks so fake.
Those special effects are pretty wanting, although they do include chest of drawers-fu implemented against Ippolita's priest uncle (Arthur Kennedy) when he tries to reason with her while she's locked away in her bedroom for a session of blaspheming. Then there's the psychiatrist who encourages her to delve into her memories of how she became paralysed, which ends up with her remembering her witchcraft-practising ancestor and yelling "BASTARD!" on the couch - is this the way most psychiatrists like their patients to work through their troubles? As it is, Ippoliita is possessed by Satan, the exorcist is called in and blah-de-blah, you know the rest, all except why you should be bothering really. De Martino went on to reimagine The Omen next, with the barmy Holocaust 2000. Music by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai.