Tonight's Double Feature is two films featuring chicks possessed by evil spirits. You've seen The Exorcist and The Conjuring, but have you seen Haunting Fear (1990) or Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974)? Get your popcorn and holy water ready - it's showtime!
This one holds a special place in my heart, even though it's a year beyond Retrospace's time boundary (must not go past the 80s!). In college, I was at a friend's trailer waiting for him to get ready to go out for some fun and do typical college age shenanigans. As I waited, I turned on Skinemax and this film was on. My eyes beheld Jan Michael Vincent, Michael Berryman, Karen Black and Scream Queen Brinke Stevens - I couldn't believe the luck!
Unfortunately, it was soon time to head out...... and I was unable to find this film for years to come. I searched video stores to no avail. Years later, I checked Netflix, with no luck. Thankfully, I was able, just recently, to find a copy and continue where I left off back in 1991.
The story revolves around Victoria (Brinke Stevens) who keeps having nightmares which are so traumatic that they're affecting her day-to-day life. They're also inconveniencing her douche husband, Terry, played by Jay Richardson (who has been in a shit ton of straight to VHS fare, including a recent Double Feature flick, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers).
Douche bag Terry and his secretary (Delia Sheppard) are banging each other. Given that his wife is often catatonic and a total mental case, and the fact that his secretary is Delia Sheppard - I can't say as I fault Terry too much.
Soon, Terry's secretary learns his dirty little secret - that he's $80K in debt to he mob for gambling. He tries to call the mob boss to buy him some time to get the money....
This is where we get to see my hero, Robert Quarry. Way back in 2009, I did a movie review of Count Yorga where Quarry played the studliest vampire in cinema history. He's only in Haunting Fear a couple minutes - just long enough to tell douchebag Terry that he needs to come up with the money.
Another hero drops by - none other than Jan Michael Vincent. He plays a detective, and I guess director Fred Olen Ray could only afford him for a few hours because he's hardly in the film. (I'm sure all his proceeds from Haunting Fear went straight to coke).
Karen Black shows up as a hypnotist in a bad wig - mercifully, it's only for one scene. Michael Berryman makes a cameo as well...
A catatonic Victoria is presumed dead. The autopsy scene with Berryman as the medical examiner is perhaps the best scene in the movie. Berryman is always creepy - here, he's dialed his creepy up to "11".
Aww but it's all a stupid dream. This happens a lot in Haunting Fear.
Douchebag Terry and his hot secretary have Skinemax-worthy sex and conspire to kill Victoria to get her money. They seal her in a crate then proceed to have more Skinemax-worthy sex.
Victoria emerges as a possessed psycho bitch. I must say, Brinke doesn't hold back at all and plays the vengeful blood spattered wife with gusto. Props to Brinke. She quickly kills her betrayers, but then Jan Michael Vincent shows up - and I'll leave it at that.
Overall, an enjoyable horror flick with a satisfying amount of boobs and blood. I can't complain; however, it in no way lived up to my expectations at the end of this decades long quest.
Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974)
Yes, it's another possession movie. What can I say? I was lured by some very lurid VHS box art. As far as I know, this has not received a DVD/Blue Ray release, so I had to settle for a rather poor quality cassette.
Anyway, it starts out promising enough, with a bunch of wacky German kids at the record store. They're all going to a party at the girls' boarding school. That's when shit gets real.
One of the girls, Magdalena (Dagmar Hedrich) starts rolling around on the floor foaming at the mouth. Needless to say, it puts a damper on the party.
What makes this film worth watching is the gal who plays Magdalena. She is a stone cold fox, and (like Brinke Stevens in the previous movie) goes all out, not holding back on the possession shtick one bit.
The fact that she looks so angelic, makes her rather graphic possession scenes all the more horrific.
Let's just get it out there: Dagmar Hedrich is naked through most of this film. Every time she becomes possessed, the clothes come off. She attacks her family shouting blasphemies naked, she's raped by an unseen demon, she lures men to sex before killing them..... all by the otherwise angelic Hedrich (in basically her only film role).
With so much nudity, I'm unable to provide many screen grabs of the rather impressive possession scenes. Instead, I'll just show bystanders looking on with horror...
Note the nice kitty posters in Magdalena's room.
Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (AKA Beyond the Darkness) mixes a lot of tropes found in other satanic horror flicks of the time including the flies from Amityville Horror, But most of all, it rips off The Exorcist with abandon.
Of note, the demon rape scene may be slightly ahead of its time as it's very similar to The Entity (which came out a few years later in 1982 and then in Poltergeist); although much more graphic.
All in all, I have to say I enjoyed this. It's got gobs of sleaze, but it's more than that. Hedrich owns this picture. She totally went all in without a shred of inhibition. The result is pure shock: the change from innocent Magdalena to frothing, blaspheming, and totally nude Magdalena is something that needs to be seen. A shame Hedrich never worked again. Gilligan recommends.