Have you ever wondered just how dull a movie about a woman who experiences past-life flashbacks about her career as a Satan-fucking, mariticidal bar wench could be? Well, wonder no more, because "The Demon Lover," recently released on DVD under the title "Lucifera: Demonlover," is here to provide you with eighty of the most frontal-cortex-numbingly boring minutes you'll spend watching a movie about demonic possession.
"The Demon Lover" finds lovely young lady Helga (Rosalba Neri) and her two gal-pals stopping for the evening at what I'm guessing is a German castle, judging by the fact that all of the characters bear super-duper Teutonic names like "Helmut," "Gunther," "Hans" and "Johan." Helga inquires about the castle's Satanic history and then grifts a meal and a free night's stay out of the castle's owner. Wandering the halls by candelabra (like you do), Helga stumbles upon a portrait that resembles her visage and, after hearing some creepy sounds from the depths of the dungeon, falls into a faint only to relive the tragic experiences of another, different Helga from... uhm... the Ren Faire Period of history. Ye Olde Helga is about to get married to her beau Gunther, but is cursed after a mysterious male figure spies her wedding gown before her marriage takes place. It's all down hill from there, with Helga getting armpit-deep in Satanic nonsensery that incorporates midnight rituals at the gallows, weird orgiastic rapeyness, and an affair with the Devil.
Except it's really, really, REALLY boring.
I've seen several films that take the concept of a sexual pact with the Devil and go somewhere interesting with it. The Mexican nunsploiter "Satanico Pandemonium" adopts a tone of moral commentary, cautioning against the dangers of suppressed desires, while Jean Rollin's "The Demoniacs" blends the "sex with the devil" theme with one of revenge. "The Demon Lover," on the other hand, is one of the most literal-minded movies I've seen in a long while. There's no character development, no subtext, no artfulness--just the telling of a story. Period.
Seriously--is this one of the greatest "Bitch, PLEASE" faces in cinema, or what?
It would be very easy for me to forgive this lack of depth if the visual style of the movie compensated for it in any way. It's more than just a lack of style that's working against this movie. Much as it pains me to say this, given some of the budgetarily-impaired films I have enjoyed, there's an air of cheapness that overwhelms the movie. It's challenging to create an immersive period atmosphere, but it feels like this movie isn't even really trying. Sure, there are some wench outfits, and cute white caps, and ladies sewing, and drinking from tankards, but it all looks very lousy. The first interior scene takes place in a tavern that by all appearances is someone's bachelor uncle's rumpus room with a couple of garlic bunches tacked to the wall for period ambience.
Is there anything redeeming about this film? Sure. And it comes in the person of Rosalba Neri, who is rightly enthroned in the pantheon of Euro-Sleaze Uber-Babedom. Ms. Neri distinguishes herself from many equally-beautiful actresses due to a certain domina-like haughtiness that, when combined with her curvaceous femininity, is magnetic. This is a woman who always seems in control and on top--she's entirely believable as a superwoman, which is why she's so much fun to watch in roles like the gender-bending hitwoman in "Castle of Fu Manchu" or the second-generation female mad scientist in "Lady Frankenstein." This firey screen presence makes it all the more shameful that there's nothing much of Ms. Neri to admire in "The Demon Lover" than her Callipygian Cleft. I can save most of you the eighty minutes by posting these two images:
I think I'm particularly frustrated by this movie because the title of the recent US DVD release is shared by an actually-rather-awesome fumetti series. The "Lucifera" fumetti character is an ass-kicking demon-babe--just check out some of her adventures here at The Groovy Age of Horror. Now THAT is the movie I would like to watch!
It's a shame that I have to thumbs-down this particular entry into the Eurotrash canon so thoroughly. Ms. Neri's charms aside, there's just nothing going on to recommend "The Demon Lover" to any but the most dedicated Eurotrash fans.