I originally got this on a PD version from Cheezy Films - and knew, immediately, that I had to own a good print of it! One of Mario Bava's (BLACK SUNDAY, DANGER: DIABOLIK, PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES) most surreal movies, LISA AND THE DEVIL tells the story of Elke Summer's Lisa, on a guided tour in Italy, who sees a portrait of Satan on the wall of a church - then meets a man who looks just like the portrait (Telly Savalas, a year or two before KOJAK) carrying a man tucked under his arm - or is it a mannequin that looks like that man? Lisa misses her tour bus, and accepts a ride from the aristocratic Lehar couple in a decrepit touring car which breaks down in front of an old, seemingly deserted mansion - and runs into the Satanic man again! He introduces himself as Leandro, the butler to the Countess and her son Maximillian who live there, and invites her and her companions inside. Once inside, it seems everybody mistakes Lisa for Elena - a woman it turns out the Countess's late husband and Maximillian had been the lover of! Leandro, meanwhile, provides comically put-up, often snide running commentary of all the goings-on, including Sophia Lehar's affair with George the Chauffeur, Francis Lehar's murder of George and later Sophia and subsequent death, Maxmillian's obsession with Lisa who he insists is Elena, the man Leandro was seen carrying at the start of the film who turns out to be the Countess's late husband who's also obsessed with Elena, and so on. It all ends, either as Lisa's tragic damnation - or a sick joke depending on your point of view.
Savalas's Leandro, the butler who may be Satan, is the undoubted highlight of the film. Alternately cunning and downtrodden, obsequiously offering cake "with chocolate sprinkles", trying to sneak a smoke and having to quickly replace it with a lollipop(!) whenever the disapproving Countess comes by, ranting as he stuffs his face in an empty dining room after the meal in a scene both hilarious and chilling, he delivers what should have been a star-making performance a year before his first appearance as Kojak. Nobody else touches him in the acting department, though all are capable enough.
The original film was re-cut with cheap "exorcist" scenes to remake it into HOUSE OF EXORCISM after some unsuccessful screenings in Italy and at Cannes - which either was a financial success (according to Producer Alfredo Leone, who'd shot much of the replacement footage) or as big a financial failure as it was a creative one (Wikipedia). I'm not sure why the original did so poorly - it's a brilliantly subversive, darkly humorous supernatural thriller that I really think needs to be reassessed as the lost classic it is.