As the stylish opening credits draw to a red-hued end, a disclaimer reads across the screen: "THIS FILM IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY". I have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps it isn't

Next we are introduced to the pretty Denila (Stella Carnacina), an art-restorer.

She visits an old church looking to pick up a life-sized statue of the crucifixion. It is remarked upon by her boss that the one she chose is incredibly life-like, and that "it's hard to believe there isn't blood running through his veins". Hey, funny you should say that !

The boss then asks Denila if she can stay back at the studio that evening, as he must attend a hideous 70s dinner party. My words, not his. Check out the disco music, the inept 'dancing' and uncredible fashion rife throughout the ensuing party scene if you want a definition of the word "hideous".

However, it's at said party that we catch our first glimpse of Gabriele Tinti (EMANUELLE IN AMERICA). There's a strange bedroom scene between Tinti and Denila's sex-mad mother (Lucretia Love - THE KILLER RESERVED NINE SEATS, etc) where he lavishes red rose petals upon her naked torso. Wonder if Sam Mendes ever saw this movie?! If he did, he surely stopped watching before Tinti got medieval with the twigs, thrashing Love with them!

Meanwhile, back at the studio, Denila is busy restoring an old painting when suddenly a noise compels her to inspect the freshly acquired statue of Christ more closely.

Would it surprise any reader to learn that the statue is in fact a Satanic being (Ivan Rassimov - EATEN ALIVE, etc) who comes to life and rapes Denila, thus possessing her?

Actually, I'm not quite sure that 'rape' is the right word. Denila definitely seems to be a willing participant once the 'beast' is inside her. It's all handled very melodramatically too - in a good way: burning crucifixes, sudden inexplicable gusts of smoke billowing into the studio, and so on.

Believing the whole experience to have been nothing more than a nightmare, Denila confides in her boyfriend Carlo. He seems dubious, and - if we're being honest - a bit thick.

Shortly afterwards Denila is terrified by voices she keeps hearing, and her parents are alarmed when they return home to find her masturbating vigorously, while scratching her stomach.

They call in a doctor but after much screaming, Denila offering sex to her own father (Cristea Avram - TWITCH OF THE DEATH NERVE etc), and developing stigmata, it is determined that something more sinister than a fever that can be cured by 'warm milk' is afoot!

As a cheap Euro sexploitation cash-in on the success of THE EXORCIST (this film was even retitled THE SEXORCIST in the 80s!), I suppose you can guess where the plot's headed !

Predictable though EERIE MIDNIGHT HORROR SHOW (original title: L'OSSESSA) is, it is undeniably atmospheric with a few effective set pieces to speak of. The cast alone makes it a point of interest, as I'm sure many would agree.

The horror scenes (such as the nightmare suffered by our heroine in which Rassimov gorily crucifies her) are stylishly shot in a manner that conquers a potentially crippling low budget.

Although originally sold as a 'soft-porn' film (remember the VHS being advertised in the back of Video World, back in the 80s?!), it's worth noting that here is a film that strives to be a horror film in almost every scene. Yes, there is some nudity and sex - but nothing more than what you see in your average 70s exploitation caper.

What surprised me most was how seriously director Mario Gariazzo handles his subject matter, and how the movie moves towards becoming anything but sexploitation as the exorcism commences - preferring instead to offer sermons promoting the importance of family, while condemning promiscuous sex and even daring to confront a Catholic priest with sexual temptation.

Marcello Giombini's score adds to the atmosphere too. Sometimes a little overwrought, but mostly building to the sleazy chills on screen - rather than detracting from them.

Well, that's the film ... more or less. As far as I can see it's fully uncut.

The disc from Eclectic is disappointing.

The opening credits are presented in non-anamorphic 1.85:1 (letterboxed), while the remainder of the film plays in full-frame. Images are soft, and there is the occasional speck on screen. Overall the film is very watchable, although if you expect anything better than old VHS quality you'll be sorely disappointed.

Audio. Oh, do I have to go into this? Audio is appalling. It's presented in 2.0 mono, and while it has a consistent level of audible dialogue, it is unfortunately plagued by an unrelenting background hiss. Even worse, there a couple of dropout points that are the worst I've ever witnessed. Think Norman Collier, and you'll be only halfway there!!

It can't be ignored either ... the English dubbed soundtrack is either the BEST or the WORST dubbing you'll ever hear, depending on your sensibilities! You know when the guy from POLICE ACADEMY parodies dubbed Martial Arts films of the 70s by deliberately speaking out of synch? Well, this is - unbelievably - worse!

Which is a shame, because when you first slip the disc in your machine you're greeted by a cool animated main menu page which celebrates the seedier moments of the film, to the accompaniment of some competent Propellerheads-type funkiness.

The disc comes in a black keepcase packaging, and is Region 0 NTSC encoded. The film itself is graced with 7 chapters (although the Scenes menu only shows 6 chapters?!).

For ordering details visit the Eclectic site by clicking here.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Eclectic DVD
Region All NTSC
Not Rated
Extras : none