Ladies and gentlemen, please give a big Agitation of the Mind round of applause for Mario Bianchi’s ‘La Bimba di Satana’. It doesn’t sound too bad in Italian, does it? The English title, ‘Satan’s Baby Doll’ makes it sound like something Linda Hayden ought to be starring in. Unfortunately, she’s not but (a) la bimba of the title is played by lookalike Jacqueline Dupre (not the cellist!) and (b) stick around because we’ll be paying a visit to the luscious Linda at ‘The House on Straw Hill’ later this week.
Here’s the plot: in a big old castle high in the hills of … somewhere … matriarch Maria Aguilar (Marina Hedman) has just popped her clogs. Her husband Antonio (Aldo Sombrell) finds solace jacking himself up on heroin and bullying the staff, while their daughter Miria (Dupre) takes to her bed in a state of shock after hallucinating (or maybe not) her mother returning from the dead. When family physician Dr Suarez (Alfonso Gaita) recommends that Miria spend some time in a sanatorium, he is quick to meet an unpleasant death. It seems like some force is hellbent on keeping Miria at the castle. A force that just as quickly possesses Miria.
Is Maria manipulating her own daughter from beyond the grave? Why is Antonio so antagonistic towards nurse/nun Sol (Mariangela Giordano) who devotes herself to caring for his crippled brother Ignazio (Joe Davers)? What makes groundsman Isidro (Giancarlo del Luca) go into a crazed and hallucinatory fit when he enters the family crypt?
These are the questions you probably won’t give a crap about the answers to. As a horror film, Bianchi’s affront to the filmmaker’s art is woeful. The effects are a joke, the zombie Maria is the unscariest thing I’ve ever seen and Isidro’s attempts to perform an impromptu exorcism necessitate the kind of facial gurning that even Jim Carrey in ‘Ace Venture’ mode might consider over the top.
The only purpose of ‘Satan’s Baby Doll’ is to get the female cast members naked as frequently as possible. Thus we have Ignazio manoeuvring his wheelchair to Sol’s room so he can spy on her sleeping and fantasize that she’s pleasuring herself in a decidedly non-bride-of-Christ-like manner; Antonio not only fantasizing about a similar thing but outright propositioning her; the seemingly resurrected Maria appearing au naturel before all and sundry (seems she put it about a fair bit before she kicked the bucket); and Miria exhibiting signs of possession by the immediately identifiable tendency of unbuttoning her blouse and squeezing her breasts. For about five minutes at a time.
‘Satan’s Baby Doll’ is a pretty wretched movie that was apparently distributed in both a hardcore version and the kit-off-but-little-actual-sex 70 minute cut that I
watched laughed myself silly over last night. What caused my merriment – and this is why I would heartily recommend ‘La Bimba di Satana’ to anyone in need of an hour of unintentionally hilarious material and absolutely no requirement to engage their mental faculties – is the. Worst. Subtitling. In. The. History. Of. Cinema.
I’m guessing they were done by someone with no knowledge of English who used one of those free online translation pages and wasn’t very good at typing when he entered the indigenous dialogue. Thus we get howlers like these: