Following in the shaky faux-documentary footsteps of The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity, The Last Exorcism comes from an even older tradition of pea-soup-spewing horror movies about demonic possession. The template was set by a pair of box-office blockbusters, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist, back when Nixon was President. They ushered in an era of satanic cinema that leads all the way to The Last Exorcism, which opens on Friday. Here are some of the most diabolically inspired movies over the years.
The Devil in Miss Jones
Most '70s crotch operas have little to offer besides bad fashion, a few laughs, and copious amounts of pubic hair. This 1973 porn flick is an exception. A lifetime of Catholic guilt is channeled into the story of a woman who commits suicide and winds up damned, despite her otherwise spotless record. She's granted a brief return to Earth, where she sins like crazy. At least she'll be going to hell for a reason.
Lisa and the Devil
An American tourist becomes fascinated by a mural of a devil in Rome. Before long, she strays from her group and ends up trapped in a sinister mansion. This surreal, atmospheric, and oddly beautiful 1974 movie by Italian horror maestro Mario Bava was retitled House of Exorcism by U.S. distributors, who added new scenes including the usual levitating, puking, and blaspheming. Stick with the original.
Race With the Devil
After witnessing a human sacrifice, Peter Fonda and pals' vacation takes a nasty turn when they're pursued by devil worshippers hot on their trail. The local sheriff is no help whatsoever. It all leads to a bang-up chase and shootout that could have inspired The Road Warrior. Despite all of the action-flick elements, there's still plenty of demonic chanting and blood rituals in this 1975 movie.
Mickey Rourke plays private eye Johnny Angel, who gets tangled in a web of sex, murder, and the occult after he's hired by the mysterious Louis Cyphere (Robert De Niro). Along the way, Angel gets involved with a voodoo priestess played by Lisa Bonet, who sheds her squeaky-clean Cosby Show image along with her clothes. It's pretty obvious who Louis really is from the start, but this 1987 movie's other twists are a bit trickier.
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