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(aka "I Don't Want to Be Born" or "The Monster" or "Sharon's Baby" or "It Lives Within Her" )

 

directed by Peter Sasdy
UK 1975

 

Former stripper Lucy Carlesi (Joan Collins, QUEST FOR LOVE) gives birth to Nicholas, an unusually strong child who scratches the new mother the first time she picks him up. When she and her husband Gino (Ralph Bates, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE) return home, things get worse. The child bites the housekeeper Mrs. Hyde (Hilary Mason, DON'T LOOK NOW) and tries to drown nanny Jill (Janet Key, THE VAMPIRE LOVERS), and demolishes his nursery. Lucy is convinced that the child hates her while Gino confides in the child's doctor Finch (Donald Pleasance, HALLOWEEN) who believes that Lucy is stressed and that Nicholas may possibly have a genetic condition. Since Lucy and Gino have healthy family backgrounds, Lucy suspects that the child may actually have been fathered by strip-club owner Tommy (John Steiner, SALON KITTY) and that the aggression has a supernatural cause since her spurned midget partner Hercules (George Claydon, BERSERK) cursed her to have a child possessed by the devil. When the nanny mysteriously dies, Lucy's nerves are shot and Gino's nun sister Albana (Eileen Atkins, WOLF) convinces him to let the child go into hospital for observation while he takes Lucy on vacation in Italy. When Gino also disappears, Albana breaks out the bible and the crucifix for the obligatory exorcism.

A mishmash of ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE EXORCIST, THE DEVIL WITHIN HER - titled I DON'T WANT TO BE BORN and THE MONSTER in the UK - may be one of the worst seventies British horror films despite an interesting cast (which also includes Caroline Munro [SLAUGHTER HIGH] as Lucy's stripper pal). Without exception, the scenes of horror provoke laughter rather than chills (the baby is kind of creepy, but the flashes of a swaddled Hercules and Lucy's horrified reactions dispel any tension). The awkwardly edited scenes of the baby attacking people are at least worth a laugh. Bates, Atkins, and Claydon are saddled with horrid Italian accents ("possessed by the dayvil!"). Ron Grainer's score is intermittently interesting, and cinematographer Kenneth Talbot renders both the blood and loud, bad-taste decor boldy. The script never quite explains how a strip-club midget could convince the devil to possess an infant (nor does it seem that the pregnancy prior to the film's start was unusual), and - unlike just about any other possession picture (with the exception of
BEYOND THE DOOR, itself originally titled THE DEVIL WITHIN HER) - the production design fails to exploit Catholic iconography; even the church in which the baby's failed baptism takes place is visually uninteresting (although for a long time, Catholics made up a very small percentage of the British population). There is some unexpectedly graphic gore in the final reel, but the exorcism seems to take place at this point in the plot simply because it was near the ninety minute mark. Collins performs with conviction, but - like Sasdy - she was probably just happy to be working as the British film industry was experiencing a downturn in the seventies (Collins and Bates had earlier appeared in Jimmy Sangster's classier-if-cliche Hammer thriller FEAR IN THE NIGHT). The film isn't a total loss, but it may find its place in the British horror or Joan Collins (or Katarina's Nightmare Theater) libraries of fans for the sake of completism.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 1976 (USA)

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing (Katarina's Nightmare Theater) - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:33:30
Video

1.74:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.74:1

Edition Details:
• Playable with optional Katarina's Nightmare Theater wrap-around segments
• Interview with actor John Steiner (4:3; 15:46)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:00)
• Trailers for NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT, FINAL EXAM, HUMONGOUS, THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, HUMAN
• EXPERIMENTS, and THE PYX
• Promo Reel featuring HUMONGOUS, NOTHING BU THE NIGHT, FINAL EXAM, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, THE
• INCUBUS, REVENGE, TERROR, THE CARPENTER, SATAN'S SLAVE, HUMAN EXPERIMENTS, AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, and
• THE PYX

DVD Release Date: 20 September 2011
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

The Rank masters provided to Scorpion Releasing for a number of their titles have been generally poor, but MGM provided the master for Rank-licensed THE DEVIL WITHIN HER (likely the same one prepared for its recent 16:9 digital and streaming broadcasts) and the progressive, dual-layer, anamorphic transfer makes this rather unattractive film look very good. Colors are bold and the eye-straining wall-paper and upholstery is detailed. The mono audio is also in good condition. Actor John Steiner provides a casual interview. He did not see the finished film, so he only recalls his few scenes (he interprets Collins' nightmare vision of him as his death scene, although he is seen alive later). His scant memories of the film are followed-up by some brief discussion of his Italian work and his subsequent real estate career. Two of the DEVIL WITHIN HER posters seen during the interview are actually from the Ovidio Assonitis production BEYOND THE DOOR (the export prints of which bore the former title). The film is playable with optional wrap-around segments by hostess Katarina Leigh Waters. Besides a handful of current and upcoming Maria titles, there is also a promo reel with more titles.

As with all of Scorpion's Rank titles, it is coded for Region 1 (Scorpion's titles are generally Region 0).

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

 

 




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