The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum
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ABBY (1974) **

 

Abby has a long, mangled history that’s made it one of the more sought after titles in horror history.  The story behind Abby’s mysterious disappearance is actually more interesting than the movie itself.  Abby was released hot on the heels of Warner Brothers’ smash hit The Exorcist.  Since the movie is more or less a blaxploitation version of The Exorcist (in fact AIP considered briefly naming the film The Blaxorcist), Warners sued and the film was quickly withdrawn from circulation.  Later a court ruled that Warner Brothers didn’t have a monopoly on films the featured possessions and exorcisms, but for whatever reason the film was never released on video.  Thanks to DVD, the film is finally out, but I’m not necessarily sure it was worth the wait.   

 

The story follows an upstanding Christian woman named Abby (Carol Speed from The Mack) as she and her husband (Terry Carter) move into a new house.  Meanwhile in Nigeria, her father in law (Blacula himself, William Marshall) excavates an ancient artifact which is more or less an African version of Pandora’s Box.  He unwisely opens the box and a malevolent spirit is unleashed and possesses Abby.  Pretty soon, she begins cutting herself, having coughing fits, and finally starts cursing in a demon voice.  (“I’m not your ho!”)  She starts abusing her husband and hits him in the crotch and begins to question his virility to others.  After she gives an old white woman a heart attack, Carter puts her into a hospital to get help.  She quickly escapes and goes out on the town seducing men and killing them.  In the end, Marshall returns from Africa to perform the much delayed exorcism with the help of his sons Carter and Austin (Assault on Precinct 13) Stoker.    

 

Even though the movie was clearly modeled on The Exorcist, it’s not the most blatant copycat out there.  The only things Abby has in common with the Pea Soup Champion of ’73 is that she’s possessed by a demon and receives an exorcism, has a mass quantity of x-rays taken at the hospital, and a subliminal white faced demon shows up periodically.  Abby is not a helpless teenager, but a married woman whose marriage is torn apart by her possession.  The subplot with her picking up men and killing them definitely strays from William Friedkin’s classic, as does the African roots of the demon.  (Although oddly enough, the demon from Exorcist 2 came from Africa.)  The most telling aspect of the film is that Abby throws up WHITE vomit and not Linda Blair style GREEN puke, obviously a sign that the filmmakers were trying to do something original here. 

 

The prospect of a blaxploitation version of The Exorcist isn’t a bad idea per se, but unfortunately director William (The Manitou) Girdler doesn’t liven things up enough.  The Exorcist was a deliberately paced flick, but at least it delivered on the goods.  Abby never once rises above the obviously cheap material, which is a shame, because this flick had a lot of potential.  I guess the fact that the film’s been unavailable for so long built up some kind of high expectations, because in the end, it just didn’t do a whole lot for me. 

 

The performances are fine, with Speed and Marshall doing a great job in the exorcism scenes, but even they can’t save the film’s lethargic pacing.  But hey, at least it’s better than Exorcist 2. 

 

AKA:  Possess My Soul. 

Tags: a, blaxploitation, horror
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