Director: Mario Gariazzo
Code Red DVD

It's hard to believe the significant number of EXORCIST rip-offs that the Italians produced so shortly after that U.S. hit's release. Here's another one. If the title "The Eerie Midnight Horror Show" confuses you, that's because it was created by some marketing genius who thought it might lure fans of "Rocky Horror" or perhaps sound like some sort of long-appreciated cult classic. The title was created for an early 1980s video release, but the film is known in Italy as THE SEXORCIST and showed up in theaters here as ENTER THE DEVIL and THE TORMENTED (not to be confused with the early 1960s Bert I. Gordon film).

Like in several of the Italian takes on the William Friedkin original, the protagonist is an attractive young woman named Danila (sexy Stella Carnacina, SEX FOR SALE), an art student who nabs a 15th Century life-sized statue of a crucified thief from a deconsecrated Italian church. When she brings it to her studio, the damn thing comes back to life in the form of everybody's favorite Euro villain, Ivan Rassimov (who already looks evil and didn't need any significant make-up). Rassimov rips off Danila's clothes in one swift shot, rapes her, and then she wakes as if it was all a dream. A further nightmare has her entering a cave resembling hell, where a group of pale, half-naked women chant, and Rassimov’s character (who we assume by this point is the Devil) gets off from his cross to crucify Danila.

When Danila wakes up, her hands and feet have wounds, and she goes into a masturbating spree and tries to seduce her own father (Cristea Avram, THE VIOLENT PROFESSIONALS). Seeking help, a doctor and some locals decide to bring her to a convent, but she starts chewing on her own hair, and breaks out. When they find her, she's brought back so that a martyring priest, Father Xeno (a serious and confused-looking Luigi Pistilli, A BAY OF BLOOD), can perform an exorcism. She attempts to seduce him too, but he flogs himself on the back for almost giving into temptation (fellow Catholics… don’t try this at home!). Father Xeno eventually puts a stop to the pea soup (or rather uncooked lime jello) vomiting and other hokum before dropping dead.

The film starts off with some original ideas (the statue coming to life is most promising) but succumbs to the EXORCIST look-alike syndrome pretty quickly and becomes predictable and ordinary. With several nude scenes and a mild coating of perversion, this is pretty typical Euro sleaze and can easily be enjoyed on this level. Scenes of Rassimov’s Satan nailing Danila to a cross in a hell-like surroundings (complete with blue-skinned, red-eyed demon ladies) is pretty intense stuff though, and there’s a subplot featuring Danila's hot MILF of a mom (Lucretia Love, BATTLE OF THE AMAZONS) cheating on her husband with a playboy played by Gabriele Tinti (LISA AND THE DEVIL), who flagellates her violently with some rose stems in a totally gratuitous kink scene. This also tempts her husband to retort, “I suppose that’s your excuse to submitting your body to whips and belts and other masochistic tomfoolery…. whore!” This is really a half-baked cash-in that benefits from a cast of familiar Italian character actors, with the quotient of sex and nudity no doubt making this one the spiciest of its type to come out of Italy. And according to what’s stated after the opening credits, “This Film is Based on a True Story”!

THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW has gotten past DVD releases from various budget companies who assumed it was in the public domain, including Alpha Video and the now defunct Eclectic DVD/Sinema Diable. These transfers were culled from VHS sources, but Code Red does a new transfer from a 35mm print source (from the early 1980s 21st Century Pictures theatrical release) and while not perfect, looks so much better than past releases, and respectably so, with this definitely being worth an upgrade if you can get a hold of it. The film is presented in a 1080p resolution transfer in a fitting 1.78:1 aspect ratio (past VHS and DVD releases were always cropped) with colors looking stable and skintones appearing correct. Detail is good throughout, with fine grain and some blemishes (a few light emulsion lines and the expected marked-up reel changes) to remind you this taken from an actual print. The English post-synced dialog sounds clear, with the entire DTS-HD master audio being more than adequate and also a big improvement over what was available on DVD (the Eclectic DVD has hissy sound and other blaring audio issues). You can view the film in “Katarina Mode”, where lovely Katarina Leigh Waters bookends the film with commentary, in her usual humorous fashion, also providing some trivia about the cast.

Code Red’s Blu-ray edition of THE EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW is limited to 1000 copies, and already is sold out as of this writing. (George R. Reis)