Released in Italy as The Sexorcist obviously to cash in on the success of William Friedkin's eternal horror classic of similar name, and released theatrically in North America as The Tormented, this film enjoyed a brief eighties video release under the strange re-titling of The Eerie Midnight Horror Show (an obvious swipe at The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with which this film has absolutely nothing in common – they even slapped a big pair of red lips on the box art!).
Stella Carnacina plays Denila, a pretty young women employed as some sort of art restoration expert. When she comes into possession (pun intended) of a 15th century crucifix that was salvaged from a Catholic church, she brings it back to her studio in hopes of fixing it up. Sadly for her, the statue comes to life as Ivan Rassimov (Jungle Holocaust, Eaten Alive) and rapes her. She wakes up from it, thinking it was all a dream, and then further hallucinates that she is in Hell and we see a coven of naked women, possibly witches, chanting as Rassimov's character gets off of his cross and in turn crucifies Denila.
She again wakes up, this time showing evidence of Stigmata, and beings to frantically masturbate and then begins an attempt at seducing her father! Her family requests the help of the local experts and it's basically agreed upon that she is possessed and needs an exorcism, so she's whisked off to a local convent where a priest named Xeno (played by Luigi Pistilli of The Nude Princess and Twitch Of The Death Nerve) attempts to cleanse her of the foul demon that possesses her body and soul. Much vomiting and flagellation ensues.
The appearance of some Eurocult regulars and a high sleaze quotient make the movie watchable, but hardly a classic. There are a few stand out moments of gore and plenty of flesh on display, but the story meanders along and doesn't really have much to offer other than a plot that borrows very liberally from The Exorcist. Rassimov is as enjoyable and reliable as ever, playing the demon well and very much looking the part, and Pistilli isn't too bad as Father Xeno, so in that regard, some of the performances aren't bad, but the dubbing and audio synch problems (see below) do take away from it.
While the opening scene of the film is presented letterboxed, once we get past this, it's fullframe (and pan and scan) all the way. The DVD looks like it was sourced from an old VHS tape, and the video generated credits look to be a tell tale sign that this assumption is correct. Colors are flat and dull, grain and print damage are evident for the duration, and every looks just a little bit too fuzzy. Compression artifacts are common throughout and the image is, overall, very undefined looking and quite poor.
Presented in a dubbed English Dolby Digital Mono track, the audio sadly doesn't fare much better than the video. Background hiss is a constant distraction and there are a few moments where the audio just cuts out altogether for a few brief snippets. To make matters worse, it doesn't even look like the audio is even in synch, and evidence such as one character hanging up the phone before she finishes speaking proves this.
The disc has a static menu over which unrelated music plays at a much louder volume than the film itself. The only extra is scene selection.
Eurosleaze aficionados are sure to enjoy the more exploitative elements of the film, and on that level, it is entertaining with some stand out moments of weirdness, but the presentation on this DVD does make the movie more difficult to enjoy than it really should be.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.