Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Devil Within Her (1975)


          Originally titled I Don’t Want to Be Born for its domestic release in the UK, then renamed The Devil Within Her for American exhibition, this supernatural howler may be the silliest of the myriad evil-baby movies that proliferated in the post-Rosemary’s Baby era. Joan Collins, as glamorously awful as ever, plays Lucy Carlesi, the English wife of an Italian businessman. When the movie begins, Lucy moans and screams through the difficult delivery of her first child, a sequence so extreme that attending physician Dr. Finch (Donald Pleasence) remarks, “It’s as if he doesn’t want to be born!” But born he is, a black-haired, 12-pound tot named Nicholas, and trouble soon follows. In a serious of ridiculous scenes, the newborn bites people with teeth he shouldn’t have yet, scratches their faces with nails that shouldn’t be as sharp as they are, and even commits impossible crimes like shoving people into rivers. Although Lucy’s husband, Gino (Ralph Bates), stupidly ignores the obvious, Lucy realizes that little Nicholas is a problem child. Making a rather dramatic leap of logic, she determines that her pregnancy was cursed by the evil dwarf whose affections she spurned when they worked together in a strip club.
          Thus informed, Lucy seeks assistance from Gino’s sister, Albana (Eileen Atkins), who conveniently happens to be a nun. Cue exorcism! Powered by an insane score that mixes influences from Indian, Italian, and progressive-rock music, The Devil Within Her glides along smoothly for a while, with logical characterizations and sensible scenes complementing the gonzo premise. But once the movie really gets cooking, logic and sense give way to absurdity and goofiness. Atkins’ performance gets more bug-eyed and frenetic, Bates’ Italian accent fades in and out, and Collins’ breathy speaking voice grows more irritating. (It’s a sure sign of trouble when Donald Pleasence comes across as the most restrained cast member.) The finale of the movie approaches a kind of so-bad-it’s-good campiness, and the filmmakers get points for making it clear that no character is safe from the nasty newborn. Nonetheless, calling The Devil Within Her anything but awful would be irresponsible.

The Devil Within Her: LAME

1 comment:

city said...

thanks for sharing.