Lisa and the Devil – Italy/Spain, 1972

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Lisa and the Devil (Italian: Lisa e il diavolo) is a 1972 Italian-Spanish horror feature film directed by Mario Bava. The movie stars Telly Savalas (Horror Express), Elke Sommer, Silva Koscina (So Sweet, So Dead), Alessio Orano, Eduardo Fajardo, Alida Valli (Inferno; Tender Dracula; Eye in the Labyrinth) and Espartaco Santoni.

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Tourist Lisa Rainer (Elke Sommer) wanders away from her tour group in Toledo, Spain and encounters a man called Leandro (Telly Savalas) who resembles the portrait of the devil in a fresco she has just seen.

When she is unable to find the tour group again, Lisa takes refuge in a crumbling mansion owned by a blind Countess (Alida Valli), where Leandro is the butler.

The Countess’s son (Alessio Orano) is drawn to Lisa because of her physical resemblance to his dead lover. As people begin to die off at the villa at the hands of a mysterious killer, Lisa finds herself in a surrealistic nightmare from which she cannot escape…

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In a desperate attempt to get the film released internationally, producer Alfredo Leone convinced a reluctant Mario Bava that they should revamp the entire film as an Exorcist clone, in order to cash in on the popularity of that film, complete with new footage being shot of an exorcism involving Elke Sommer and Robert Alda, who was cast as a priest in the new footage. The film itself was then heavily cut, removing over twenty minutes of footage (including the film’s ending) and having the remaining footage edited into the new footage as an extended flashback sequence that Sommer’s character tells Alda’s character.

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Leone clashed with Bava over the new footage shot of Alda and Sommer; Leone wanted profanity and strong sexuality in the new footage, something Bava refused to include. At first, he would set up the scenes and then leave the set so that Leone could direct the actors; later he tried to convince Elke Sommer not to act in these scenes, and eventually he left the set altogether. As such, the finished film’s direction was credited to Mickey Lion.

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The House of Exorcism was released in the United States in 1975, where it was a critical and commercial failure. Leone’s plan to try and exploit the popularity of The Exorcist backfired, as many critics and viewers denounced the film as merely a blatant rip-off.

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Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.co.uk

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of both versions of the film: Lisa and the Devil and The House of Exorcism producer’s cut
  • Optional English and Italian audio on Lisa and the Devil
  • English SDH subtitles on both features and a new English subtitle translation of the Italian Audio of Lisa and the Devil
  • Audio Commentary on Lisa and the Devil by Bava biographer and expert Tim Lucas
  • Audio Commentary on The House of Exorcism by producer Alfredo Leone and star Elke Sommer
  • Introductions to both films by author and critic Alan Jones
  • The Exorcism of Lisa Assistant Director Lamberto Bava, screenwriter Roberto Natale, Roy Bava and Bava biographer Alberto Pezzotta discuss the making of both versions of the film
  • Deleted Scene
  • Original trailers
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic and author Stephen Thrower illustrated with original stills and archive posters

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Reviews:

“Let Bava guide you through this fascinating journey to a great ending that will leave you with a wide grin on your face and shouting bravissimo! The feel of the film is beautiful, classy, and dreamlike, but it also has a ruder side consisting of some very satisfying kill scenes and horror surprises that continually come back, up until the very end.” Giovanni Susina, At the Mansion of Madness

“The true scene stealer is Telly Savalas as the mysterious Leondro. Your never quite sure what he’s up too or what he’s going to do next. Special mention should also be given to composer Carlo Savina who creates one of the more memorable Italian scores of the 70’s. This film is nearly impossible to fully explain, it’s a picture you much view yourself.” Cinema Head Cheese

Lisa and the Devil is a very effective romantic horror film that doesn’t always make sense, but brings itself back up with gorgeous visuals and strong performances from the leads, especially from Telly Savalas, lollypop and all, who is hilarious as the butler/devil.” Daryl Lomis, DVD Verdict

” … Mario Bava’s 1972 labor of love Lisa and the Devil is easily the challenging and poetic of his impressive streak of horror classics from the ’60s and ’70s. A nonlinear study of memory, mourning, desire, and damnation, it’s closer to the morbid erotic trickery of Last Year at Marienbad than the increasingly graphic horrors unspooling in theaters around the world at the time.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

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Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

  • Two complete films, mastered in HD from the 35mm negatives
  • Audio commentary on Lisa and the Devil by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
  • Audio commentary on The House of Exorcism by producer Alfredo Leone and actress Elke Sommer
  • “Bava on Bava: An Interview with Lamberto Bava” (by Daniel Gouyette)
  • Original theatrical trailers
  • Original trailers of other Bava films
  • House of Exorcism radio spot
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This movie marquee appears in Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977)

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Cast and characters:

  • Telly Savalas … Leandro
  • Elke Sommer … Lisa Reiner / Elena
  • Sylva Koscina … Sophia Lehar
  • Alessio Orano … Max
  • Gabriele Tinti … George
  • Kathleen Leone … Tourist (as Kathy Leone)
  • Eduardo Fajardo … Francis Lehar
  • Franz von Treuberg … Shopkeeper
  • Espartaco Santoni … Carlo
  • Alida Valli … Countess

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