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Summary: Lisa is a tourist in an ancient city. When she gets lost, she finds an old mansion in which to shelter. Soon she is sucked into a vortex of deception, debauchery and evil presided over by housekeeper Leandre. (imdb)
Like several other Bava films I've seen, this has impressive style and some neat moments, but it never really comes together in a consistently interesting way. This one is just plain confusing, though.
There are hints of greatness here, but the story is so confused and uninteresting, with strands of storyline scattered everywhere, that the movie never gels into the intriguing mystery that it could be. It's nicely shot, with Bava's typical flair for colorful style (though he does use the "push in/un-focus" technique too much). And there are some creative death scenes like the great unintentionally hilarious car kill. But ultimately the movie is little more than a pretty looking snooze fest.
After creating his masterpiece (Bay of Blood), Bava pretty much deflated and churned out stuff like this little stinker. On paper it all sounds good- A surreal, nightmarish trip taken by an oblivious woman into a decadent, murderous household, but it plays like slighty more lurid (and infinately better filmed) daytime soap stuff rather than horror. Not even the presence of Valli can class things up. Points are given for Sommers' mammaries and Savalas' carefree performance.
This is a true classic of 70's italian gothic horror. It's art-house and abstract (I guess it was Bava's most personal project) and it's very atmospheric. Just make sure that you avoid the re-edited version "La Casa dell'esorcismo" and find the original cut "Lisa e Il Diavolo".
Lisa and the Devil's characters seem to occupy a virtual pit of despair wherein they come to resemble (and often are) mannequins whose every movement is defined by an unseen malevolent's manipulative hand. Out of this, Bava casts a spell of palpable, eerie suspense and evocative imagery, ultimately delivering upon Devil's implicit B-movieness to climactically confirm that brilliantly bizarre nightmare scenarios were unravelling a whole decade before Freddy showed up.
I watched original version - "Lisa and the Devil" and was very disappointed. It had great potential but it was unexpectedly boring for a Bava film. If you search for something similar but better done, try Robbe-Grillet's "La Belle captive".
So many intriguing ideas, buried in a movie that just plods along. Too random to be enjoyable as a mainstream horror/mystery, yet not random enough to be enjoyed as a surrealist fantasy. It seems to be fumbling for plot threads and doesn't ever hook the viewer. The color is nice and vivid, and there's a few good tricks, but otherwise I thought the cinematography didn't stand up to Bava's other work. Somewhere in here is a good movie but I was fighting boredom most of the time.