The Possessed (1975)
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Interesting score, vaguely reminiscent of Claudio Simonetti's work.
The girl, Susan, is very weird, like a small child trapped in a preteen's body. Some of this may be due to the off dubbing, though. Her extreme innocence does seem logical in comparison to her transformation, making it seem more extreme. Very nice makeup effects, too. (Was this you, Pablo Perez?) (Interestingly, the actress playing Susan was the Spanish dub for Linda Blair in "The Exorcist").
There are some "Exorcist" similarities, but it is not a blatant ripoff, even if this film was clearly inspired by it. When the priest gets called either "queer or impotent", that is pretty amusing.
There is some completely erroneous nonsense about inheriting languages through genes, which may remain dormant for generations. I cannot imagine that any credible scientist would ever say such silly things.
Absolutely deserves a decent DVD release. Whoever owns the rights, if any, and the original negative needs to get this one released to us in a clean copy. Someone call Dark Sky! They are the people for the job.
Despite being a rip-off, this film actually has a few good ideas of its own. The idea of the girl being possessed by a witch rather than some demonic force actually works quite well and the film has a couple of subplots, such as the one that sees the token young priest being chased by a girl against his wishes. This plot doesn't have much to do with the film's central idea, but it's interesting and amusing. It also seems like director Amando de Ossorio was trying to have a swipe at the church through a lot of the events in this film - including the subplot with the girl and the priest. The film was obviously made on a shoestring budget and as such there isn't much room for anything spectacular. The special effects are largely inept and unconvincing and the acting is matched by some truly atrocious dubbing. The only real notable cast member is Marián Salgado, and she is only notable for the fact that she was cast in the film because she was the Spanish dubbing actor for Linda Blair in The Exorcist (a nice touch in my opinion). Overall, The Possessed is lacklustre, but it's not a bad way to spend ninety minutes and it is one of Amando de Ossorio's best films outside of the Blind Dead series.
I, in no way, want to imply that this is a good movie. Amando Ossorio has become somewhat of a cult director, but while he may handle atmospheric horror well in his "Blind Dead" series (or even the much-maligned "Night of the Sorcerers"), he is well out of his element here with this kind of more visceral horror. The script is (obviously)very stupid, the special effects are generally inept, and the atrocious English dubbing makes the whole thing completely risible. The movie should be commended though for its originality (relatively speaking)and its sheer audacity (the infanticide, the castration etc.). Most of the objectionable material, it should be said, is done off-screen (probably more due to budget limitations and censorship than good taste), but it unusual to broach such disturbing subject matter at all in a commercial film. The make-up on the little girl is also pretty good, and is aided greatly by the fact that the young actress looked pretty creepy (and a lot like the old witch) to begin with.
So does all this add up to a recommendation? Well . . . I guess if you like these "Exorcist" rip-offs like I do, you could do worse.
** 1/2 (out of 4)
Amando de Ossorio, director behind the four Blind Dead films, wrote and directed this rip of The Exorcist but he adds a few neat twists to make the film stand on its own. A young baby goes missing and the police suspect a local Satan worshipper so they bring her in for questioning. During the interrogation the witch praises Satan and then kills herself but soon her evil spirit returns and takes over the body of a young girl. There are countless items in this film that borrow heavily from The Exorcist but do Ossorio also adds some new stuff like the twist of the possession coming due to a witch. There's also a couple eerie scenes involving the witches and the ending is quite good. However, like all these Italian rips, there's a lot being ripped off from the troubled priest to the dirty talking little girl. The dubbing to this film is pretty bad so the dirty talk from the child comes off with more laughs than anything else. This is no great masterpiece but it's certainly one of the better rips I've seen.
An old crone (Tota Alba) is abused by the police (Fernando Sancho) and enters the body of the young daughter of the police commissioner (Ángel del Pozo). There really are not the special effects that you find in another possession movie that is more familiar (The Exorcist), even though that is what they want you to think.
The young priest (Julián Mateos) performs a short exorcism to drive Satan out.
No real blood or violence except for a castration where you don't really see anything.
The film has two pretty scary looking actors and I mean the witch and the lead girl who both have the face required to play in this kind of Satanic tale. The old witch make-up is also convincing and these little things are almost the only positive things that can be said about this slow and tired piece of Spanish film.
The protagonist priest is the only one that has even a little depth in him as we get to learn something about his past. This is nice and gives also some potential to criticise some more or less hypocritic things that can be related to being a priest and denying one's human feelings and needs. But nothing is used so ambitiously, the priest only gets to develop slightly higher than the other characters but nothing else.
The special and horror effects are also very bad and few. There's no gore or on-screen carnage as usually in these films, only some very badly acted scenes of demonic violence and one rather pointless (off screen) castration commited by a devil. The atmosphere is only very rarely anything interesting, and practically always involves either the girl or the witch and their faces. One laughably bad "horror scene" is straightly from "The Exorcist" (among many other elements in the film) and has equally bad "trick effect" as Italian Joe D'Amato's exploitation sickie "Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals" from 1977.
The English dubbing is awful as well as some of the dialogue. The dialogue thinks the audience is very stupid and so every "important" thought of a character is said and spoken out so that nothing is left to the imagination, like "How the hell you have my voice?" as an example of this hilarious stupidity!
"The Possessed" is a very bad and uninteresting piece of horror film and definitely among the worst examples of "rip offs" in general. Only the very few things mentioned make this to the 2/10 level which means that I won't ever return to this film again but will keep on watching other films by the director who definitely is capable for more.