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Scary, hilarious, and vastly better than its reputation suggests, Abby has a
number of moments where you don't know whether to laugh or scream. I,
personally, ended up laughing most of the time. One of these scenes has Abby
(Carol Speed) beating up a concerned family friend while chanting, "Here we
go 'round the merry-go-round, merry-go-round, merry-go-round...." Another
moment has Abby obscenely salivating over chicken blood. Still another is
when she rips open her blouse and begins spouting four-letter words at a
marriage-counseling session. Then there's the discotheque exorcism, with the
demon bellowing and swearing as the joint is telekinetically demolished. A
lot of the movie is ridiculous, yes, but that's why it's so horrific. If it
were rational, what would be the point?
Some scenes, however, fall off the humor-horror fence onto the comedy side. The best example of this is Abby's performance of the soulful "My Soul is a Witness" in the church choir. The problem is, Carol can't sing! Another character mentions her "angelic voice." Apparently the angels live in her sinuses! Then there's the use of fried chicken as a constant theme and Juanita Moore's sage pearls of wisdom about "lovin' a good man."
The performances range from passable to quite good. The best comes from the always dignified, commanding William Marshall as the exorcist. Paula Henderson's main theme, "Will We Find Our Tomorrows," is memorable, as is most everything else about the movie. Though it's often silly, Abby is never dull.
Trivia: Made for $500,000, Abby was a substantial success, grossing $9 million during its month in theaters. After that month, Warners sued and profits were frozen. Director William Girdler died two weeks after the suit was settled and never saw a dime.
One of the strangest, wildest, and weirdest blaxsploitation movies, Abby is an African-American retelling of The Exorcist, with Carol Speed as the possessed title character. The chaste and devout wife of a reverend, Abby spends her time as a marriage counselor in her neighborhood parish. Through mind-boggling misfortune having to do with the accidental release of a vicious demon, Abby begins to exhibit odd behavior (giving out salacious marital advice in one hysterical scene) and a noticeable change in the vocal register. Transforming from the practically virginal naif into a sex-starved ghoul with a hyena's chortle, Abby takes off into the night of dance clubs and singles bars. Father-in-law William Marchall races home from Africa to perform the exorcism, but will he be too late?
Though I knew there were some DVD copies around, I guess I should thank YouTube for finally being able to watch this movie since that's where I discovered it. Having seen it, I can see why Warner Brothers sued and won their lawsuit against American International for blatantly copying WB's hit The Exorcist. Sure, the differences are that one involved a girl child and the other a grown woman but they both have shaking furniture and demonic possession in which they both say very vulgar things involving sex. Okay, with that out of the way, let me say what I think of it. I thought it was hilarious whenever the title character played by Carol Speed had-through the voice of Bob Holt-said all those blatantly provocative remarks to various people but after that, I managed to also find some genuine scares and thrills. Both Ms. Speed and William Marshall as Bishop Garnet Williams who tries to get the demon out of her provide great presence in their scenes together. But the supporting players of Terry Carter (Rev. Emmett Williams, Abby's husband and Garnet's son), Austin Stoker (Abby's brother Det. Cass Potter), and especially Juanita Moore (Miranda "Momma" Potter) also hold their own against them. If there's one thing I have a beef with, it's the print I watched. Perhaps because of that lawsuit, no one's bothered to restore it. So the one I saw looked washed out. Still, the sound wasn't bad so that's a plus. Really, all I'll say now is if you get the chance to watch Abby, go for it! P.S. How interesting that after not sharing a scene in The Mack, Ms. Speed and Ms. Moore played daughter and mother in this. And nice to hear Carol's writing and singing skills with the song "My Soul is a Witness".
I had been wanting to see this movie since I saw the trailer way back in "74 and I was a young lad. Finally found a copy through ebay in 2002 and it was just as fun as I thought it would be. It is a blatant but cheap (and I mean cheap) version of The Exorcist with all black actors. Definately worth a look if you like really bad rip-offs that are SO bad that they are funny. It's too bad though that Pam Grier wasn't cast as the lead character. Maybe she thought it was even too bad for her to do. Personally, I think it's fun and should be in anyone's collection if they are into campy movies of this genre. Some others that should not be missed are Anticrist, L aka The Tempter and The Antichrist in USA and Beyond the Door which stars Juliet Mills (Nanny and the Professor). Both are Italian movies and really fun. In the first, the possessed woman actually rims a goat and in the latter, Juliet (Nanny) Mills does a lot of throwing up of black gook, levitations, and spinning. The first of a stream of Exorcist rip-offs. Look for the newest installation of The Exorcist coming out later in 2004. Should be interesting.
ABBY DOESN'T NEED A MAN -- THE DEVIL IS HER LOVER NOW!! This very rare
which I was lucky enough to see the one week it played here in downtown
Angeles during the Seventies (the prints were destroyed soon after the
makers of The Exorcist sued for copyright infringement and won) is not
a great entry into the possession genre, but also one of the prime
of true blaxploitation cinema. It stars William Marshall of Blacula fame
the exorcist, Carol Speed from The Big Bird Cage as the possessed woman,
Austin Stoker from Assault On Precinct Thirteen, Terry Carter, and Juanita
Moore from Imitation Of Life... truly an exceptional cast brought together
in a film that must be seen to be believed.
Carol Speed portrays the girl named Abby who is a minister's wife and marriage counselor, qualities that do not prevent a demon from entering her body in one unusual shower scene. Abby then spouts foul language, goes nuts in a church, scares a white woman to death, jumps a funeral director in a hearse, acts like she's on drugs and generally gets very weird throughout. William Marshall is the man who must deal with the demon, and here his Shakespearean training shows. Austin Stoker is the friend who helps Terry Carter deal with a possessed wife. Juanita for some reason keeps talking about having a good man and eating fried chicken. All the cliches are in this one, and only the truly jaded won't be offended in some way!
SEE Abby throw a man across a room! SEE Abby seduce a man in a hearse! SEE Carol Speed talk like Isaac Hayes! SEE one obviously derivative yet well done scene after another! SEE an exorcism in a disco! SEE Abby fight her way out of a hospital! SEE Juanita Moore look like she wished she was elsewhere! Try and catch this one if you can, and become one of the initiated!
Returning from a trip to Nigeria, a priest returns to the U.S.
realizing that he accidentally released a primitive God from it's
hiding place deep underground has possessed a member of his clergy and
uses his religious training to put an end to the ordeal before she gets
further from recovery.
This here did have some rather nice stuff to it that did help it. One of it's best features is the fact that this one does a really decent job of being a solid genre entry, as this does a really impressive job of running through the genre standards. The demon is released quite early on with an utterly effective sequence down in the underground crypts where the incredibly creepy caves are used to grand effect in giving off a great atmosphere with the howling wind and echoing voices adding to the feel of it and then segues nicely into the family moving into the new house and coming across the fact that she's become part of its' plans which enables it to follow along the same storyline as expected here. The times when the film utilizes those tactics, from the early scenes of her getting possessed which includes her shaking the rooms and walls, encountering the demon within the shower or fantasizing about cutting herself which are all creepy enough on their own before being added on with the similarity factor that comes from the rather shameless way its homages are shoe-horned into these segments. There's a lot to like from the fun with the family members always trying to get her under control rather than doing anything more original with the setup, and that continues on into the idea of her being possessed which are quite fun since this one doesn't have the excruciating factor of waiting around endless minutes watching the Church figures deal with something that's painfully obvious to everyone else that something must be done yet nothing is. That leads into the exorcism scene that comes with all the theatrics and shouting expected as well as the fact that seeing all the flying furniture and bodies makes for a great time. Plus, there's also the rather great and fun experience when the charm is removed and the spirits come out, and it's all the better for it. As well as the fact that the make-up on the possession looks great as well, with the truly out-there wig and facial deformities which make it feel really great, these here are what make the film entertaining, but it did have a few relatively detrimental flaws to it. The main one is that the behavior changes that the possessed undergoes aren't very frightening at all, merely shouting profanities, acting very sexual or attacking others around them. These aren't that great at making that person a target of fear, which is the main course of action with this kind of film. It needs to be able to get across the fact that they're dangerous, which is accomplished through the actions they undergo and this one simply doesn't do that very well which is where the film fails at. The other relatively big flaw here is that there's a decided lack of action in the middle segment, which is all the signs of possession coming out though the film decides to inject them in the middle of the most mundane activities ever. Having her suddenly break out into a profane rant at the end of a dinner party doesn't have a lot of weight since it comes at the end and is a rather irritating recurring tactic. The dance- hall sequence serves no use other than getting a suitable location for the exorcism, but it goes on for too long with no payoff and really should've been trimmed or omitted, but that's easily overlooked compared to the other flaws here.
Rated R: Extreme Graphic Language, Violence and Brief Nudity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was really looking forward to seeing a Protestant exorcism. Had this
movie actually been shot as intended that is what would have been
displayed. At first blush this movie seems to indicate that the Black
Baptist Bishop has a much easier time vanquishing Satan than the
Catholic priests did in the original Exorcist movie. The priests in the
original Exorcist sweated, bled, questioned their own faith and
ultimately one of them died-sacrificing himself to beat Satan. Here
William Marshal (Bishop Garnet Williams) did not even break a sweat as
he maintained ultimate control from the start of the exorcism to the
But in a weird twist it is revealed that Abby is not possessed by the devil but rather by Eshu, a minor God from the Yorba (African) religion. Then it is revealed that Abby is not even possessed by the real Eshu, but rather by an even less significant spirit pretending to be the minor God, Eshu. And "Bishop" Williams does not banish the insignificant spirit in the name of Christ, but rather in the name of the main Yorba God, Allron and ultimately traps the spirit in Eshu's idol with help from Eshu. A rather anticlimactic exorcism.
Why was this twist done at all? My research indicates that William Marshall only agreed to do the movie if he had some script control. William Marshall, the actor, was very interested in the Yorba religion and studied it intensely. In fact, William Marshall, the actor, lectured in several universities in the early 1970s about the Yorba religion. It is widely reported that William Marshall was unhappy that promised script revisions were not made. Ultimately, I believe that William Marshal himself ad-libbed the lines about it not being the real Eshu that possessed Abby. I also believe that William Marshal ad- libbed the lines about Allron being of equal power to the Judeo-Christian God and that the exorcism was being performed in Allron's name (later he calls upon the power of Eshu as well). Otherwise, the rest of the script does not make sense. William Marshal, the actor was promised script revisions that were not delivered, so he took matters in his own hands and changed the dialogue on the fly.
Lots of gratuitous shots of fried chicken; literally served at every meal. Also bonus points if you can find the Shlitz beer product placement.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie when I was about 5, this movie scared the heck out of me. The idea of a movie where the woman talks like the devil and kills people was very creepy. I remember as a child sitting in the car at the drive in and spending most of my time on the backseat floor behind my moms chair crying. So many years later I was able to but it on Amazon and I watched it again with my brother and mom and family and was like wow this movie was funny in that old campy way but still a little scary. But it was fun to watch. I think it would be a good crowd pleaser, but we have to get a straight copy that does not look so choppy and look like it skips parts as well.
A possession film about a marriage counselor who becomes possessed by a
Demon of Sexuality, when her father in law, an Exorcist, freed it while
He returns home, along with his son and a policeman to perform an African Exorcism on her.
One of the better blaxplotation flicks to come our of the 70s. The story is OK, and the acting is decent and although a low budget movie, the special effects are sort of kewl.
I'd give it a solid 5. It's worth watching id you are a fan of the genre.
A minister's wife becomes possessed by a demon that was probably unleashed by his father while he was excavating in Nigeria. If you take 'The Exorcist', 'The Amityville Horror' and 'Scream Blacula, Scream', and mash them all together, you have 1974's 'Abby'. I was not expecting much from this film and maybe that's why I am SO shockingly surprised at it's quality. It's not "so bad it's good", it's just good! Although the disco music seems out of place in a horror setting like this, the acting is decent and the story is well told. There is no doubt that the plot is a REALLY close copy of a much more popular movie, but to me that doesn't hurt it one bit. In fact when you see the lead character Abby starting to act weird, you almost feel true sorrow for her and her family because if you ever watched 'The Exorcist', and I'm sure 99.998% of you saw that film before this one, you have some idea of what is in store for them all. Because of Abby's age, they are allowed to show a little more sexual deviance which is a nice evil touch, especially from a minister's wife. The special effects are well done and the constantly changing voices within the possessed lead female are great. The movie itself has a very creepy element to it and it is a little more action packed than it's big studio twin (slightly older twin). In fact, if you just look at it as a sequel to 'The Exorcist' rather than a rip off, I think you'll enjoy it much more. Trust me, Friedkin would much rather have 'Abby' as his sequel than the real 'Exorcist Part 2'! The crew of 'Abby' had plenty of original ideas outside of the film that they were copying and the movie deserves a lot more respect.
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