Ideas of demonic possession have been around for centuries, with the first references coming from the Sumerians that believed all diseases of the mind and body came from evil spirits called gidim or gid-dim. Since then, most religions have had some sort of demonic possession story within their belief system and ritualistic way to release the demons. The Catholic church has been more prevalent, whether they like it or not, with their exorcism techniques since the release of William Peter Blatty novel, The Exorcist. The story was based on true events and was fictionalized but it brought to light one of the churches most archaic rituals. Unfortunately, the interest in demons films diminished by the early 80's, when slasher films became the rage and the exorcism ritual went back into the shadows. There has been a number of good and bad demon possession films since and these are just a few.
Here are 5 Films Possessed with Terror!
5. Manhatten Baby (1982) - Susie Hacker is approached by a mysterious blind woman and given a amulet, while in Egypt with her archeologist father, George is exploring tombs and her journalist mother, Emily just not paying attention to her. At that moment, George discovers an ancient tomb, that kills his guide with a booby trap and a magical light that blinds leaves him blind. George staggers from the tomb and decides that they should go back to Manhattan. George is told he will be blind for at least a year and Susie is beginning to act weird around her younger brother, Tommy. Apparently, Tommy stayed home with the family's Au Pair, Jamie on the work-cation. Soooo, with the amulet, Susie and Tommy are now able to open some sort of dimensional portal and George gets his eyesight back way quicker than the doctor said. More odd things start happening that don't make sense to them, or the audience, and things finally come to a head when Emily's annoying work friend comes over and disappears trying to open the dimensional door. Unfortunately, no one seems to care that he just vanished and no one can find him. Eventually, George figures out with the help from occultist, Marcato that he was blinded not by science but from the painting of the amulet of evil and that his daughter, Susie has that amulet! He and Marcato must stop the evil amulet before it makes more people disappear and it hurts his children, I think! Ahhhhhh Fulci! You drive me bananas sometimes. Your incoherent, abstract horror drives me to the brinks of madness! Usually though your nutty scripts are so filled blood that I can be appeased by the outrageous horror. Buuuut not with this film. The gore is at it's minimum and I hate, with a passion, the character Tommy and was begging for his demise. The story is all over the place, I have no idea what happened to Jamie and the only twist that was so what enjoyable was the end. Damn you Fulci!
4. Burnt Offerings (1976) - Ben and Marian Rolf take their son, Davey to go look at a potential summer home in the country. When they get there, the house looks like it could use some work but it looks good, has a pool and large outdoor area. They meet the owners, Roz and Arnold Allardyce, who are brother & sister and looking to get out of the house for a vacation. They tell the Rolfs' that they can rent the place for 900 dollars for the whole summer. Ben, being the savvy business man, asks them what the catch is, why is it so cheap? Roz & Arnold come clean and tell them that their mother lives on the top floor and hasn't left her room in years. If they could bring up her three meals a day during the summer and leave the tray in the sitting room, then they would have a deal. Sounds perfect! So, the Rolf's head home to pick up, old Aunt Elizabeth and head back out for there summer vacation. However, when they arrive again, Roz and Arnold are no where to be found and there is an envelope on the door. It says that they had to run out but here are the keys and the fridges are stocked. The Rolf's move in and the start cleaning stuff up. Ben and Davey clean the pool and during the first swim session, Ben gets a little out of hand and manhandles Davey in the pool. Nearly drowning Davey, Ben snaps out of it and saves Davey at the last minute. Ben doesn't know what's happening to him and feels something inside him changing. Marian is changing too, she seems more reclusive and is spending more time in Mrs. Allardyce's sitting room, looking at pictures and playing her music box. Marian also is becoming more distant to Ben and he can't explain why. Is this the house or a spirit in this house taking over this family and is there any way that they can escape it? Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis and Burgess Meredith are blended well together to create this horror by director Dan Curtis. Although the film does come off as a TV movie and very PG, it still has a some moments that are intense and creepy. The ending took me by surprise and the conclusion was satisfying. It's worth checking out.
3. JD's Revenge (1976) - It's 1942 and super pimp, J.D. Walker is strollin in his butchering plant and he over hears a conversation with his sister, Betty Jo and another man. Betty Jo is tellin this guy that if she doesn't get more money for him, then she's going to tell Elia, her boyfriend, the truth that their daughter is not his and it's this guy's kid. Enraged the guy slits Betty Jo's throat and J.D. runs over to try and save her. It's too late, the guy takes off and Elia shows up, starts yelling MURDERER and then somebody guns down J.D.! Fast Forward 30 years and we have Issac, a guy who drives a cab, he's studying to be a lawyer and likes hangin out with his girlfriend, Christella and his friends. One night, Issac and Christella go out with their friends, to celebrate their one year anniversary. They start with hitting the strip club, then it's off to dancing and to round out the evening, they catch a show involving hypnosis. Issac volunteers to be one of the guys being hypnotized and during the show, he starts seeing these weird images of being in a butchering plant and seeing a girl get killed. He snaps out of it and brushes it off, but the weeks that follow he starts having bad headaches, starts buying clothes from the 40's and even starts roughing up his number one girl, Christella! He thinks he's going mad but eventually J.D. Walker possesses Isssac's body! With a shaving razor in hand, he heads out to get his revenge on the sucker who killed his baby sister! I was wrong about this movie. I liked the low budget style but didn't really give the cast or crew there due. After seeing it again, I really did like Glynn Turman role as Issac. It made me laugh before when he changed into J.D but now there are some terrific nuances that I didn't notice before and I can really appreciate. Louis Gossett Jr is also excellent in this film. There isn't a crazy body count but it's a terrific possession revenge film and has an enjoyable ending. Fun sploitation film and worth watching.
2. Demons (1985) - Cheryl is riding the subway in Berlin to meet her friend Kathy, when she notices a mysterious man wearing half a metal mask in the next car. She gets off at her stop and walks cautiously through the abandoned platform but notices the man with the mask is following her. She walks faster and begins to panic, she rushes up the stairs, only to be stopped by the masked man, who pulls out of his cape, a free pass for a new movie theater. Relieved, Cheryl asks for another ticket for her friend Kathy. Cheryl convinces Kathy to skip their music lesson and go to the theater premiere but once at the theater they have to battle a pop machine and Kathy seems really put off. Luckily, George and Ken are able save them from their pop machine crisis and sit with Kathy and Cheryl in the theater. A number of other people have come to the theater, like the crusty old couple, who hate everything, the blind man and his helper lady, and even Tony the Pimp is there with his two bitches. One of his bitches, Rosemary starts playing with one of the movie displays and puts on the mask. Tony the Pimp, laughs and tells her to take it off so they can get good seats in the theater. When Rosemary take the mask off, she gets a little cut on her face. They head into the theater just as the show begins. The movie is a horror movie to Kathy's disappointment and lets Cheryl know that she may to be able to sleep tonight because of the scary movie but Cheryl doesn't care because her a George are hitting it off. The movie seems to be about a group of college kids who discover a mask and one of the kids puts it on. When he takes the mask off, he gets a little cut (sound familiar?) and shortly after he is possessed by a demon. Rosemary notices that her cut is bleeding again, so she excuses herself and heads to the ladies room. When she gets to there, she looks in the mirror and the cut has become an oozing puss filled bubble and Rosemary starts to freak out. Tony is wondering where Rosemary's at, so he sends his other lady, Carmen to go find her. Carmen goes to the bathroom and finds Rosemary, except it's not Rosemary! It's a demon possessed Rosemary and it attacks Carmen and kills her. Rosemary leaves the bathroom looking for other the victims and when she gets inside the theater, she starts killing people! Everyone panics and tries to escape! However, the dead are coming back as demons and it's turning into total mayhem! Can Cheryl and Kathy ever escape this theater of the dead and if they do will they ever accept another free movie pass again? Director Lamberto Bava puts together a killer film with the help from Horror maestro and long time friend Dario Argento. The story is similar to zombie film with the spirits being contagious but has it's own demonic twist to make it original. The special effects are the main reason to watch it, this film has some awesome kill scenes that are bloody as hell. Also, the soundtrack to the film is fantastic, full of 80's metal music with some haunting instrumentals by Claudio Simonetti. This is a definite must see for any Italian horror fan or anyone else looking for a good gory movie.
1. The Exorcist (1973) - Chris MacNeil is a famous actress shooting a new movie in Georgetown. Her and her 12 year old daughter, Regan are happy, until one day Chris finds a Ouji Board in the basement. She asks Regan if she was playing with it and Regan said she's been talking to someone named Captain Howdy. Chris & Regan try to contact Captain Howdy but he shuts them down. Time goes on and during a fancy soiree Chris is hosting, Regan comes downstairs and tells one of the guests that he is going to die and then pees on the floor. I hate when that happens. After this incidence, Regan personality slowly becomes more erratic, like telling doctors to fuck her, violently masturbating with a cross, swiveling her head and she even starts speaking in a different voice. Look out Rich Little! Chris goes to see every doctor she can and they tell her that it could be a lesion on her frontal lobes but after a battery of tests, it shows there is no damage in that area. She goes to see a number of psychiatrists but the only thing they can come up with is an Exorcism. Chris can't believe she can't find anyone to help her and one night she returns home to find Regan's window open and her blankets off the bed. After giving everyone shit, she finds out the her friend Burke was suppose to be watching her but where the hell is Burke? Ding Dong, the police are at the door and Burke is dead! He was found at the bottom of the stairs outside Regan's window. Time to call a priest! Luckily, Priest/Psychologist Damien Karras is just down the street. Unfortunately, since his mother's death, which he blames himself for, he has been questioning his own faith in god but he has time to swing by and check on this "Demon Possession" thing. When he gets there, Regan tells him that she is the Devil and then starts playing mind games with Father Karras. He dismisses most of it, until she starts talking shit about his mama! Oh no you didn't! Father Karras leaves and puts in a report to diocese and they send Father Merrin to perform the exorcism with Karras as his boy wonder. Father Merrin is old hat at the exorcism game, one almost killed him in Africa, 12 years ago, so he should be game for another one. Can Father Merrin and Father Karras save this little girls soul or will she be ravaged by the fires of hell for the rest of eternity? I love this movie! William Friedkin directs a true horror master piece that still holds up today. The special effects are terrific and I love watching Father Karras and the demon Regan talk to each other. Sure, there really isn't much blood shed and no chase scenes, but it's a thinking horror that puts the good and evil in a small room to battle for a soul. If you haven't seen it, go get it now!
In the last few years, they've try to revive the possession films in every way. Found footage, straight horror and even The Asylum did a knock off, which you might want to avoid. The genre is great when it's done right and can be very terrifying.