I love movies about wrong turns; not the kind you make in the West Virginian Mountains into the clutches of inbred cannibals, no sir. The kind that sends you on a strange adventure into the supernatural that you may not make it back from. That’s part of what led me to this particular film.
One day, while on a Rosalba Neri binge (I assure you these happen every once in a while), I found myself watching a little Italian flick called “The Devil’s Lover”. Rosalba already participated in “The Devil’s Wedding Night”; this had to be just as good if not better!
In this slice of Satanic Cheesecake, Rosalba plays Helga, who, with her two nameless friends, set out on a “Sex and the City” style adventure to a castle owned by The Devil! (At least that’s the word on the street). They meet the Butler (John Benedy) and get him to give them the tour. After prancing around the castle for a bit, they are invited to stay the night. They dine alone with an empty fourth plate, placed for the devil himself. Helga walks up and begins a toast (mockingly), only to have the glass fly from her hand. No longer finding the whole thing funny, she asks to retire to bed.
Rosalba is shown to her room by the butler. Once alone, she notices a painting that resembles her quite a bit and she suffers an episode. Now if I was spending the night in “The Devils Castle”, I wouldn’t be doing it alone. But she does and when she awakens, she is no longer in the present; she is a version of herself from the 1500’s. She wanders around the village like she owns it, (and judging from the other village women, she does), without a care in the world. Her two friends have names in the past. The reasonably sexy blonde is Magda, (Maria Teresa Pingitore), the barmaid at the only pub in town, and the reserved brunette is Cristina. Magda is in love with Hans, (Ferdinando Poggi), who is hooked up with Helga. Magda tries to tell him that his woman is hanging and banging Tramp-style, but he’s not having any of it.
Soon, before her wedding night, Helga and two other girlfriends, Wilma and Eva, climb the hanging hill for kicks. While there, they run into a witch, who is a distraction, for what, you ask? The V for Vendetta twins! Yes, two guys that look as they are dressed as “V”. They take Wilma and Eva hostage and force them to rape each other with a bunch of girls, (Really, I couldn’t make this up). Soon the rape turns into an orgy (Nope, still not making this up…). The next day, Helga finds their dead bodies and freaks, but not as much as she does when they return as zombies sucking on her breasts!
If this film is beginning to sound like a demonic flesh fest, it’s not. So while Helga is in church, repenting, she meets Gunther (Edmund Perdom) and after that Hans just won’t do. Gunther is Satan in disguise and Edmund has a devish time playing him. In Helga’s defense, Hans is dressed like Hermie from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” the first few scenes of the movie; not very cool. Needless to say, things get strained after that. What follows is more double dealing, lying, and a touch of witch hysteria.
I wish I could say you are in for a wild ride but you aren’t. Despite having devils, past lives, witches, vampires, zombies, orgies and a secret society, there just isn’t anything terribly interesting happening. You are actually in for a period drama with some boobies and a satanic twist. So why does this film falter so badly? There just isn’t a whole lot going on. We never get to know the girls as they are in the present so there is no sense of dread that the past might harm the present. The castle is just a set up that we don’t really see again. One of the three girls is barely seen so why bother having her. There are a lot of great set ups in this film but no follow through.
Cinematographer Antonio Midica does a nice job not only with the framing but in making the film seem a little more professional than it is. The lovers surrounded by fire seems a direct lift from Lady Frankenstein’s sexy climax but it works well.
The real problem here is that Director Paolo Lombardo, who pulls double duty here as screenwriter as well, is pedestrian at best. He directed three films in his career, this being the second and none of them are well regarded.
Rosalba Neri is spot on as usual, bringing some life to a lethargic pace. She isn’t the fun scene chewer of Lady Frankenstein or Devil’s Wedding Night but she still plays on her image of a sexy party girl that you wouldn’t bring home to mother. Maria Teresa Pingitore never made another film and Carla Mancini doesn't really get to do anything.
I am not a fan of Edmund Purdom, but he is a fine Devil. Not as wicked as I like, but he’s good. A veteran of over 85 films, Edmund can be seen in classics like 2019: After the Fall of New York, Absurd, and Pieces. He gets mere minutes this time around but makes an impression.
Ferdinando Poggi (Hans) was in two of my favorite pirate films (Pirate of the black Hawk and Cold Steele for Tortuga). He really is misused here; it’s hard to get past the wardrobe.
The Devil’s lover is a different animal all together. Most people see it as the most boring and prudish film Rosalba ever did and they aren’t lying. It is incredibly slow paced and when the action does hit, it’s not very interesting. There are a handful of naked breasts (huh huh, you said handful), but the whole film is about as blood pumping as a skinamax flick unless you're 16. There are a lot of good ideas floating around this film but no execution. Here is the kicker though; this film is filled with beautiful framing. The composition is outstanding in several scenes and it pains me that a film like this can be such a misfire.
So bottom line; if you are a fan of Rosalba Neri, give it a look. At 80 minutes, it won’t take up too much of your time. It has some beautiful shots but taken as a whole it is rather an uneven experience. For a supernatural thriller there isn’t much super or thrilling going on. In the end it isn’t a film about a wrong turn so much as a blaring buffet of missed opportunities.