Lisa and the Devil | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lisa and the Devil


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The Film Center's Mario Bava retrospective offers no better example of the Italian director's extravagant style and love of the fantastic than this dreamy 1972 horror movie about an American tourist in Spain (Elke Sommer) who, after seeing a fresco depicting the devil as a bald, hook-nosed creature, comes face-to-face with its incarnation (Telly Savalas, giving the comic performance of his life). Frightened, she runs off and loses her tour group; a bickering married couple offer her a lift, but when their car breaks down they're forced to seek refuge at a decrepit villa occupied by a blind countess, her handsome but spooky son, and her mysterious butler (Savalas). The setting, eerie poetry, and gallows humor all hark back to James Whale's The Old Dark House (1932), but the undercurrents of family dysfunction, sexual temptation, and the power of illusion make this Bava's most personal and haunting film. 95 min. Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State, Saturday, February 8, 8:00, and Wednesday, February 12, 6:15, 312-846-2800.

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