This film from 1975 known under a number of titles such as "The Monster", "I Don't Want To Be Born" and in its US release the more interesting "The Devil Within Her" always seems to raise feverish opinions among viewers ranging from it being a complete piece of cinematic junk, an awful camp classic rip off of "The Omen" and "Rosemary's Baby" that is not to be missed, right through to it being an interesting film from the then popular "Demon Baby" genre that flourished in the early 1970's. I personally love this film despite being well aware of all its very obvious short comings. Accused of being a pale imitation (of sorts) of the earlier mentioned horror classics I personally feel the film explores another angle on the demonic child idea with some admittedly unintentional laughs along the way. Filled as it is with horny curse delivering dwarfs, strippers, determined nuns and Ralph Bates struggling with an extremely uneven Italian accent (why did they have to make him and his sister Italian in the story?) the film perhaps for the wrong reasons will definitely stay in your mind after a viewing.
"The Devil Within Her" was produced around 1975 in the dying days of the great British companies such as Hammer and Amicus and in some respects this film does resemble the later products of those legendary film companies. Despite the often bizarre storyline elements the film does however have some very strong points to it. A terrific cast is headed by Joan Collins who really does give her all to her role as Lucy, the mother who becomes scared of her own child when it begins to display an extremely nasty side to its character behind the innocent facade. Joan once again proves what a good actress she can be even when dealing with slight material. Joan herself was very disparaging about her 1970's horror roles in her terrific autobiography "Past Imperfect" and while this film certainly wouldn't win any acting Oscars for her she is excellent as the terrified new mother who can't cope with this "unusual" new baby of hers. Ralph Bates, reunited with Joan Collins after their excellent Hammer thriller "Fear in the Night" actually has little to do here and as stated previously he is saddled with playing an Italian which never really comes off. In the role of Sister Albana, Eileen Atkins does what she can as Bates' sister who is the first to work out what is wrong and then takes action against "The Demon Child". Horror veteran Donald Pleasance as Dr. Finch who delivers the demon baby also manages to play it all seriously which helps the viewer overcome some of the hilariously bad parts in the script. And those moments are aplenty in "The Devil Within Her"!! The horny dwarf called Hercules played by George Clayton has to be seen to be believed and somehow here he possesses magical powers as he curses Joan's unborn baby and manages to superimpose his face over the baby in the crib at regular intervals. This whole supernatural element to the story is never explained which I find baffling and despite being spurned by Joan romantically it seems hard to believe he would try to destroy her life so utterly for a simply rejection of his advances in Joan's dressing room. The stripper club where Joan worked prior to her marriage is also alot of fun with its sleazy owner, gaudy costumes (what little there is of them! and tart talking girls auditioning for parts in the "revue". I personally love the mid 1970's look and feel to the film and there is real interest when the story takes the characters out into the streets where we are treated to some wonderful views of London circa 1975.
While no classic this film is still alot of fun and since all the actors play the story totally straight I believe you will find yourself sticking with it to the disturbing climax. After a number of lacklustre VHS releases it seems that "Scorpion Entertainment" are finally doing this little film proud with a first class DVD release complete with widescreen print and extras aplenty. I will update my review with that technical information after the DVD release in September. They sure don't make horror films like this anymore, mores the pity but I'm thrilled that more of Joan Collins' 1970's horror film work is now slowly getting DVD releases. Sit back and enjoy a most non-Alexis Joan Collins battling for her life against the angelic child from hell in director Peter Sasdy's "The Devil Within Her".