Mario Bava’s 1972 movie Lisa and the Devil is one of the most misunderstood of all horror movies. A lot of people dislike it because of the apparent absence of a plot. In fact the absence of a plot is deliberate. The film is nothing more than an extended meditation upon death. The atmosphere, the mood, the visuals, are the movie. Nothing else is required. And Mario Bava creates the atmosphere, the mood, and the visuals so perfectly, so exquisitely. This is a seriously gorgeous movie.
Telly Savalas gives the greatest performance of his career (stop laughing, I’m being serious) as the mysterious butler of a house in which a collection of people find themselves staying. He really is extremely good – both creepy and amusing, which is how the character is supposed to be. This is the only movie that Mario Bava was ever able to make exactly as he wanted to make it. It represents the vision he had of what horror movies could be. Sadly the producers butchered the movie after he’d completed it, but it’s now been restored to its original collection. You’ll either love this movie or you’ll loathe it.