The Antichrist is quite obviously a 1974 rip-off of 73’s The Exorcist. Less obvious is the often overlooked fact that this Italian depiction of possession is actually quite good.
Ippolita is a paralyzed woman living quite comfortably with her family. Handicapped, and confined to the use of a wheelchair, she has been trying for years, through doctors and other unorthodox methods, to find a cure that will allow her to walk again, as she once did as a child. The film begins with Ippolita in attendance at a religious healing ceremony for the mentally and spiritually ill – where she beholds a statue of healing and fails to come away any different. Upon leaving this disappointment, she witnesses a mouth-frothed vagrant, spitting bile onto the holy statue only moments before being chased, and inevitably jumping to his death from a cliffside. Foreshadowing.
Ippolita returns home for the downward spiral. Upon her arrival back at the mansion, she witnesses her father (for whom she has a needy and unnatural love) kissing a woman. It dawns on her that he will probably marry, and end the constant contact and care that she has become to depend on, both physically and emotionally. She becomes bitter and increasingly angry, voicing her displeasures to the family priest, spilling points of view considered blasphemous – condoning the Devil and questioning without faith the intentions of God.
As her attitude worsens, enter a doctor of psychiatry, who is intent on hypnotizing Ippolita as a path to remedying her almost completely unusable lower half. They discover that in another life, she was a condemned witch, burned at the stake for being a follower of Satan. This psychological portal now opened somehow bares her soul to forces of evil, which take control of her mortality and destiny during a dream she has later that night in bed – where she spiritually takes part in a Satanic orgy in Hell. Ippolita becomes increasingly troubled and defiant, until finally, she succumbs fully to the Devil within, and spreads her legs on the dinner table, inviting each of her family and friends for a good hearty fuck.
The similarities of The Antichrist and The Exorcist run parallel – both stories evolving around a possessed woman who needs her soul cleansed of the evil that has overtaken her – but both are played out almost entirely different. There are the common occurrences of spewing bile and green vomit, levitations, shifting furniture, and demonic tongues – all culminating in an end-all battle between a mighty Father and the demonically poisoned soul of our main character – but along the way, the scenery is completely different – almost allowing them both to be taken as different films entirely.
Quite simply, The Antichrist cant escape the stigmata of being labeled an Exorcist rip-off – but the film quality, acting (for the most part), and devilish sequences cant be denied, as what plays out is an effective but chill-less retelling of an American classic horror film. And where The Exorcist could not go, The Antichrist does. The foul verbage flows much more coarse and rushes like a river, compared to the snarling of Linda Blair in 73. The possessed woman is of age, and not young, so the sexual inferences and nudity also go over the top. Moments including green vomit also hit rock bottom in the repulsiveness category, as Ippolita even forces some to eat her congealed globular insides (which was a welcome cringe in my book).
What takes The Antichrist to the edges of the Hell sub-genre is the cult-wise infamous Orgy in Hell scene – the dream sequence in which Ippolita gives her soul over to the Devil. It is unforgettable. She accepts Satan swallowing a toad’s head and drinking his tissues – this is my body and this is my blood – but not without also eating out a goats asshole and fucking the Satanic priest before all is said and done. But if you have an overseas version, one that is uncut, you will see that part for all its glory. Most specifically, her writhing in bed with a flicking tongue, scenes cutting to and from the actual orgy, where a goat with a gaping purple hole actually backs that thing up to her face. Bury that mouth in there Ippolita! This I have never seen in a horror film before – and it sort of leaves your mouth slightly agape. Its cut from the edited US version, called The Tempter, so if given the choice, avoid censorship here at all costs. It kills the strength of the utter blasphemy that The Antichrist otherwise has to offer.
Passing this one up would be a sin. Most knock-offs suck, granted, but The Antichrist looks fantastic on DVD – the transfer is bright and crystal clear – with a gothic soundtrack by none other than Ennio Morricone. The repulsive, defiant activities and demonicness mimic those of The Exorcist, bringing certain facets of its hellishness to a vivid and in your face level that Freidkin’s never quite reaches. Only because it is American and casts a young pre-teen girl. But The Antichrist comes out of Italy, bares the breasts, eats the goat ass, and does everything that The Exorcist does but in European form, just not quite to the extent of being a better film or causing chills to the level that its American counterpart accomplished. Its visually rich, well acted, and different, plot-wise, for the most part from scene to scene. As a whole and in the end, not nearly the knockout film that The Exorcist became (of course) as it drops the ball with an anti-climactic end, and burns itself out by giving all its got in the 40 minutes at the center of the film’s duration. The Antichrist (1974) is worth a go – Italianized Exorcist – breastfull, blasphemous, and familiar – with a goat gape you wont soon forget.