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Antichrist aka The Tempter, The

Kino // Unrated // February 8, 2022
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted March 1, 2022 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:

Directed by Alberto De Martino, who co-write the script with Gianfranco Clerici and Vincenzo Mannino, 1974;s The Antichrist (released domestically as The Tempter, opens with a fairly stirring scene in Italy where a group of Roman Catholics pray with feverish intensity to a statue of the Virgin Mary. One woman, seemingly possessed, appears to be cured when she touches the statue.

From here, we meet Ippolita Oderisi (Carla Gravina), the wheelchair-bound daughter of Massimo Oderisi (Mel Ferrer), an Italian nobleman who lives with her father and her brother Filippo (Remo Girone) on the family's massive estate, looked after by their live-in maid, Irene (Alida Valli). Ippolita lost both her mother and the use of her legs when the family got into a car accident some time ago. When Massimo begins dating a beautiful, young woman named Greta (Anita Strindberg), she starts acting strangely, clearly very upset that her father is ready to move on with his life. As Ippolita's behavior becomes increasingly strange, Dr. Marcello Sinibaldi (Umberto Orsini) is called into take a look at her, and it's here that the theory of Ippolita being a reincarnated version of an old family member who may have been a witch with a strange past is brought to light.

Eventually, after a vivid dream that may in fact have seen Ippolita actually involved in a black mass where she fornicates with the devil himself, she regains the use of her legs and seems, at first, to be doing much better. That is, until she kills a teenaged boy after seducing him in the catacombs beneath the city and then attempts to seduce Filippo as well. With Ippolita seemingly possessed, Massimo has no choice but to call in an exorcist named Father Mittner (George Coulouris), in hopes of saving his daughter from a fate worse than death.

Very clearly inspired by the massive worldwide box office success of William Friedkin's The Exorcist made only a year prior, De Martino's film does a few things to set it apart from that earlier, and admittedly better, picture. The themes and ideas and basic story are fairly similar but the weird incest subplots and the unforgettable black mass scene (which we won't spoil here, but you'll have trouble looking at the back end of a goat the same way after seeing it!) help it to stand out. Unfortunately, while some of the effects work really well here, there are a few set pieces that use opticals that stand out like a sore thumb and which, even by the standards of the era in which the movie was made, just do not look good at all. On the plus side, we get a really solid score from the legendary Ennio Morricone and some fantastic location work. The mansion where the Oderisi family lives is perfect for the story to play out in, the strange collection of white stone busts that decorate the hallway outside of Ippolita's room standing out as weird and eerie. The whole place is decked out in fine art, massive paintings covering almost all of the wall-space and giving the place a very important feeling.

As to the acting, Carla Gravina definitely commits in the lead role. In the scenes where she is possessed she thrashes about and snarls her way through the film, creating a genuinely weird character capable of all sorts of blasphemous behavior. She also handles herself well in the calmer, quieter moments. Mel Ferrer just sort of coasts his way through the movie, he isn't all that exciting to watch here, while Remo Girone does what he can to make up for that, showing a bit of energy when the movie asks him to. Anita Strindberg isn't given much to do here but she looks great doing it, while Umberto Orsini is decent enough as the doctor in charge of Ippolita's care. George Coulouris is more than good as the exorcist while Alida Valli, instantly recognizable from Suspiria, is fine, if unremarkable, as the maid.

There are, to be sure, some logic gaps and plot holes here and The Antichrist definitely works better if you don't think about it too much, but it offers some pretty memorable set pieces, a strong performance from Gravina, a great score and some decent, if not always perfect, production values.

The Video:

Kino Lorber brings The Antichrist to Blu-ray from a transfer provided by Studio Canal using 38.8GBs of space on the 50GB disc in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. Colors look a bit flat here and a little yellowish in spots, but are, for the most part, reproduced fairly well. Some scenes appear to have been shot softer than others but overall, this is a pretty decent picture. There's petty good detail evident in most scenes and while the higher resolution when compared to the DVD doesn't do the dated optical effects any favors, the transfer moves with strong, high bit rate and is free of any obvious noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression problems.

The Audio:

English and Italian language audio tracks are provided in 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 Mono with optional subtitles provided in English only. Audio quality is fine, the tracks are both clean and balanced giving Morricone's score a bit of room to flex. No problems with any hiss or distortion, and the levels are fine.

The Extras:

Extra features begin with an audio commentary by film historian Lee Gambin and film critic Sally Christie. During this chat, they discuss the film's place in the cannon of The Exorcist-inspired (knock off) films made in Italy and elsewhere as well as the strange energy in the opening scene and the uniquely Italian imagery it contains, the quality of the film's score, some of the more taboo subjects that the film deals with (incest being one), the set design, locations and cinematography, the popularity of the occult in the sixties and seventies and how that tied into popular culture and film, thoughts on the black mass/sex scene, predatory aspects of Ippolita's character, the use of religious imagery in the movie and quite a bit more.

The disc also includes a ten minute featurette called Raising Hell. Ported over from the old 2002 Anchor Bay DVD release, this piece includes interviews with director/co-writer Alberto De Martino and composter Ennio Morricone and it covers the film's visual style, the effects work, working with some of the cast members, the score and some of the more shocking elements of the finished production.

Finishing up the extras are the alternate The Tempter opening credits, a TV spot for The Tempter and bonus trailers for The Mephisto Waltz, Phobia, Burnt Offerings and Zoltan... Hound Of Dracula as well as menus and chapter selection options.


The Antichrist might not be a masterpiece but it's one of the better exorcism films to follow in the wake of The Exorcist thanks to some really strong and memorable set pieces, a committed performance from its lead and an excellent score. Kino presents the film in a solid high definition presentation and with some decent extras as well. Recommended for fans of Italian horror and exorcism pictures.

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.

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