Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Devil Within Her (1975)

The Devil Within Her 

Written by Stanley Price
Directed by Peter Sasdy

Lucy...Joan Collins
Gino...Ralph Bates
Albana...Eileen Atkins
Hercules...George Claydon
Mrs. Hyde...Hilary Mason
Mandy...Caroline Munro

Lucy Carlesi's newborn baby Nicholas is not your run-of-the-mill tyke.  His birth was extremely difficult, and he emerged from the womb a 12-pound hulk with a strength far surpassing what could be considered normal. He uses this strength, and his innate violent tendencies, to cause all sorts of mayhem:  everything from scratching his mother's face to ransacking his own nursery, and attempting to drown the babysitter.  Kids these days!

The stress of having such an ill-mannered child threatens Lucy's peace of mind, even more so considering that every time she looks at little Nicky, she instead sees the face of Hercules, the burlesque actor dwarf who cursed her unborn child years back after she spurned his forceful sexual advances.  "You will have a baby as big as I am small...and possessed by the devil himself!"

Is the baby truly possessed by the devil?  Is it merely some sort of genetic abnormality coupled with a behavioral disorder?  Or is Lucy just off her rocker?  It's hard to say, and you'll probably get a different answer depending on who you ask--Lucy's Italian husband Gino, Gino's nun sister Albana, the baffled Dr. Finch (Donald Pleasance in a spot-on performance), Lucy's sexy stripper friend Mandy, or the suspicious housekeeper Mrs. Hyde.

The dynamic between Dr. Finch and Sister Albana is an unusual one, but probably the most powerful relationship in the film.  A man of science and a woman of faith exchanging quips as they attack the problem from both ends, regardless of the fact that both side seems equally implausible.  It's just a shame that there weren't more scenes of the two of them together.

This film burns slowly, filled with flashbacks and hallucinations and a definite 1970s vibe...and not just because of the shrubbery on display during one of the nude scenes.  It's atmospheric and enjoyable, even if it is occasionally a hodge-podge derivative of other, better films.  Primarily, though, it reminded me of a cross between Rosemary's Baby and Larry Cohen's It Lives.

A quicker pace wouldn't have hurt things, nor would a more sensible ending that answered some of the questions brought up along the way.  But it still remains a decent watch if you're looking to get your Sleazy Seventies occult fix in before dawn.

ALSO KNOWN AS:  Sharon's Baby;  I Don't Want To Be Born; It Lives Within Her

Rated R
93 Minutes
United Kingdom

"This one...doesn't want to be born."

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