Thursday, 2 October 2014

31 Days of Horror: Abby (1974)

Abby (1974)
Director: William Girdler
Starring: Carol Speed, William Marshall and Terry Carter
Running Time: 89 min

  I'm a huge fan of Sploitation films, not only for their ability to make me smile at the camp value of them but I can appreciate the time and effort that people put in see their projects realized.  Believe it or not, there was time, money and love put into these scripts and although the budget wasn't there, they completed the film on there on their on terms and you have to appreciate that, sucka.

 Bishop Garnett Williams traveled to Africa to study and excavate a cave containing ancient artifacts concerning Yoruba religion.  While in the cave, Williams discovers a wooden box, which he opens with force and unknowingly releases the demon Eshu upon the Earth.  Way to go Williams.
  On the other side of the world in Louisville, Kentucky, Williams son, Rev. Emmett Williams and his wife, Abby are just settling in there new home and ready to meet their new congregation.  However, shortly after moving in, Abby starts acting strange and her voice sounds like an angry dude.  She is cursing out people and her appetite for sex has increased ten fold.  Emmett has no idea what has happened to his demure religious wife and takes her to see countless doctors and psychologists but they can't fix the problem.  Eventually, Emmett figures out that she is possessed by a demon and asks his father, Garnett to come back from Africa and help him.  Can these men of the cloth stop this evil demon and save poor Abby or has she lost her soul to this horny devil forever?

  Director William Girdler (Three on a Meathook, Manitou) released this film a year after Warner Brothers released "The Exorcist" and it was a financial success until Warner sued them for copyright violation and the film was pulled from the light of day for a very long time.  Girdler admits, "we made 'Abby' to come in on the shirttail of 'The Exorcist" but it was also a nod to "Rosemary's Baby".  This copyright issue still doesn't seem to be resolved, although there have been three releases of the DVD available since 2006.  However, the only thing that is similar to "The Exorcist" is that a demon takes over a person's body.  The demon isn't even a Christian denomination and my hats off to the research team, who decided to go with the Yoruba religion from West Africa.  It's just a nice change with all the films based on Catholicism and other Christian religions at the time.  There are a world full of demons looking to be written about people.
  Also Abby isn't a child, she is a grown church going woman and so this really creates an interesting and amusing battle of wills.  As well as the demon wants her to spend more time in bed, unlike Raegan from "The Exorcist", and would probably be into being tied up, if you dig?

  William Marshall (Blacula, Maverick) is brilliant, as usual as Bishop Garnett Williams
and brings his commanding presence to the film.  It's a shame that he was so vocal about how much he disliked the film afterwards because some revisions that he was promised never materialized but what can you do.  Also, Carol Speed (The Mack, The Big Bird Cage) is wonderful in the role as Abby.  It's funny to see this wisp of girl manhandle and throw the male characters around and after seeing her give people the evil eye in the film, I would hate to get her mad because that could glare could back anybody down, demon or no demon.

  Of course the film has it's issues, like why and how did the spirit attack Abby, wasn't there somebody closer in the area or how did William Marshall's character got to America from Africa so fast?  Also, with all the demon lust that is talked about, you don't actually see any nudity or people having sex, which is weird, especially in a sploitation film.  However, all this is made up for by the awesome Demon voice that they have for Abby.  It's hilarious to hear the trash talk that is dubbed over Carol Speed and it really makes the film.  This is a fun film and a true hidden gem that doesn't take itself to seriously.

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