While viewing the film that I have chosen for the return of EXPLOITATION ALLEY, a few questions came to mind: “what is this?” “What the hell is happening?” and of course “Why am I still watching this?” If you ever find yourself asking those questions during any film, most likely you are having a bad time. Unless, you just so happen to be watching a mid 1970s film involving a nun, strippers, terrible Italian accents, a curse, and an adorable possessed baby. If the film you are watching contains all of those elements, then you are watching THE DEVIL WITHIN HER.
This film was released in 1975, and directed by Peter Sasdy. It was originally called I DON’T WANT TO BE BORN, and is also known under the title SHARON’S BABY. This is odd, because there is no one named Sharon in the film. The movie begins with a very awkward birth scene. It has a groovy, funky beat playing while Dr. Finch (Donald Pleasence) delivers her demon spawn. That’s right; Dr. Loomis delivers her freakishly large child. No really. It is already like seven months old when it is born. All is happy till baby Nicholas slices his mother’s face with his sharp nails. Dr. Finch explains that it is normal, and the child may have been freaked out about being held too tight. However, the mother of the baby, Lucy Carlesi (Joan Collins), has a feeling that something may be wrong with her little bundle of joy. In addition to the baby scratching her face, he also bites the finger of the housekeeper Mrs. Hyde. (Hilary Mason)
If that wasn’t enough proof for Lucy that her baby may be a baby from hell, her friend Mandy (Caroline Munro) pays her a visit only to witness creepy, loud noises coming from the nursery. As the ladies rush to check on Nicholas, they find that his room has been trashed and he is innocently lying in his crib. Lucy opens up to Mandy and tells her a pretty creepy and very confusing story. Back in Lucy’s exotic dancer days, approximately nine months before Nicholas was born, she danced onstage with Hercules (George Claydon) who puts off a creepy vibe, that get’s creepier when he goes into Lucy’s dressing room and grabs her breasts, and in case you are wondering how awkward this entire scene is…it’s very awkward. She screams, and in comes her sleazy knight in shining armor, and stage manager Tommy (John Steiner). He kicks Hercules out, and somehow gets lucky with Lucy. As she leaves, Hercules curses her. Actually, he specifically tells her that she will have a baby, who is also an evil monster, oh and of course possessed by the devil himself. Well, that explains a lot.
Besides the unfortunate event of having a demon child, Lucy has a good looking Italian husband named Gino (Ralph Bates) who conveniently has a sister named Albana (Eileen Atkins) who just so happens to be a nun. Not just any nun. This nun has the worst Italian accent ever. I dare you to keep a straight face when she explains that her sister-in-law believes her nephew is possessed, not by the devil…but by the dayveel. There are a lot of laughs to be had from the beginning till the end, with a series of tragic, yet hilarious events that lead to a “great” ending.
THE DEVIL WITHIN HER should be on every film fans must watch list. It puts a cheesy twist on great classics such as ROSEMARY’S BABY, THE EXORCIST, and THE OMEN. Is it as good as those films? No. Not even close. However, it will make you laugh, and it might weird you out.