The movie Il demonio (1963) is an Italian horror film directed by Brunello Rondi. The story revolves around a young peasant woman named Purificata, also known as “Puri”, who lives in a small village in Lucania, Italy. Puri is treated as an outcast by the locals due to her uninhibited behavior and her unhealthy obsession with Antonio, a man who is engaged to be married. 
Despite her desperate and inappropriate attempts to court Antonio, he rejects her. On one occasion, Purif tricks Antonio into drinking wine mixed with her blood, and then claims he is cursed to die. Purif continues to stalk Antonio, and watches his wedding procession from a distance, but goes into a rage outside the cathedral.
While Antonio and his wife prepare to consummate their marriage, Puri attempts to place another curse outside the house using a dead cat, but is chased away by villagers who are monitoring at Antonio’s behest. Puri flees outside of the town, and is met by a sheep herder who binds her arms and legs before assaulting her. The following morning, while bathing in a creek, Purif is greeted by Salvatore, a young boy who has apparently recovered from a long illness. Shortly after having this encounter, Purif learns that Salvatore is on his deathbed, and that a priest has read him his last rites.
Puri goes to Salvatore’s home, where she finds the boy has just died, surrounded by family members. They accuse her of being a witch, and she is taken away by Father Tommaso. Puri, claiming she has spoken to Satan and is cursed due to her practice of witchcraft, is subsequently placed in the care of Zio Giuseppe, a local charlatan whom Puri’s family believes can cleanse her soul; however, Giuseppe merely exploits the situation, using it as an opportunity to violate Puri. After leaving Giuseppe’s, Puri encounters Antonio plowing a field. She pleads with him, but he aggressively denies her, pushing her onto the ground and threatening her.
That night, Puri awakens in her bed with no control of her body, experiencing apparent demonic possession. The local parish attempts to identify the demon and exorcise Puri, to no success. The villagers begin to harass Puri, attempting to burn her alive. Puri’s parents dig a hole on their property and create a makeshift bedroom for her, which they cover with wood planks and soil to keep her hidden from the locals. However, when Antonio arrives and calls out her name, Puri begins to respond, leading to the villagers discovering her hiding place.
Puri flees, and begins walking aimlessly near a convent, where nuns witness her hugging a tree. The nuns decide to help her, but Puri attempts to strangle one of them when she recites the trinitarian formula. Meanwhile, Antonio begins to exhibit welts on his body, apparently from Puri’s curse. He seeks help from Giuseppe, who instructs him to create a bonfire in the center of town using old-growth wood, which Giuseppe claims will rid the village of Puri. In the midst of the bonfire, in which the other villagers are participating, Antonio is met by Puri, who leads him away. The two fall to the ground and engage in sex. At dawn, Antonio awakens and stabs Puri to death.
- Daliah Lavi as Purificata “Puri”
- Frank Wolff as Antonio
- Dario Dolci as Father Don Tommaso
- Nicola Tagliacozzo as Zio Giuseppe
- Anna María Aveta as Sister Angela
- Rossana Rovere as Antonio’s Wife
The movie Il demonio (1963) is considered an early progenitor of the folk horror genre due to its themes of superstition and curses, occurring in a pastoral setting¹.
Daliah Lavi, who played the role of Purificata, cited this as her favorite movie and her best performance. 
“Its’ surrealistic themes of love and challenging societal norms through eroticism and paganism truly make this a film well-worth discovering.” 
“Almost every scene is a ritual of some kind, with any kind of distinction between magical belief and Christianity erased. The hostile, arid landscape of Southern Italy, gorgeously photographed, is a character in itself, shaping the people and their terrors, and turning every structure into a ruin-to-be, the stone walls of the houses in the process of blending back into the mountains from which they emerged.”