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D: Mario Gariazzo C: Stella Carnacina, Chris Avram, Lucretia Love

Once upon a time, producers thought of themselves as educators and uplifters – no, really! Of course, there wasn’t much competition back then. In the seventies, producers on the Continent were trying to reach an English-speaking audience (and I’m not talking about critics masturbating to LADRI DI BICICLETTE). They couldn’t match the production values, so all they could do was to cram as much sex and violence into their movies as possible. And if the director was found lacking in this respect, they could always add some of their own. Ultimately, directors like Bava and Franco stopped caring. Others buggered on, which is why you can occasionally find a movie like L’OSSESSA. The stunning Stella Carnacina is an art student discovering a crucifix with a life-sized and incredibly life-like figure, except it isn’t Christ, but one of the thieves flanking him in the church, where it is found. Soon, she begins to dream of him descending from the cross and making love to her – and even about being crucified herself! From there on the movie follows the usual pattern with a final exorcism, if not as silly as in THE EXORCIST. Where it becomes interesting is when equating Carnacina’s fantasies with her mother’s masochism (making her a “whore”) and the exorcist’s flagellantism (making him pious) the power of the cross to frighten the possessed girl deriving, not from being an instrument of salvation, but of ecstatic torture, further giving her stigmata a completely new meaning, and posing the question: What is holiness, and what is sensuality? It was renamed THE SEXORCIST and ended up on a poster for THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW as THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW.

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