I had heard about this film for a while, and it was at this bargain DVD store for $8 for a long time, but I kept passing on it—until one day it wasn’t there, and then suddenly I REALLY wanted it. Kind of like life, isn’t it? Like relationships. And, like life and relationships, the when I finally got what I "wanted," I found it was not all that great.
The story is that this movie came out the year after The Exorcist, and Warner Brothers had their panties in a bunch about all the Exorcist rip-offs coming out, so they forced AIP to pull it from release, and it has been lost for 30 years… until now. Now I am a total sucker for those kinds of stories, and it always makes me feel like the film is going to be better than it is. Anyway, so now CineFear has dug up a print [that does in fact look like it was buried in a Transylvanian tomb for 30 years] and released it to an eager public in a special “collector’s edition.”
It begins with William Marshall, Blacula himself, in a park with a bunch of his college students. We get some very poor exposition from the non-actors about how very accomplished Blacula is, and it turns out that they’re all studying African beliefs and religions as well. I’m sure this was all deliriously inspiring to the youth of the day. Anyway, Blacula is going back to Africa to do some “very important” anthropological work, leading us into the main credits which feature this rather zesty cheese disco song.
Meanwhile Abby, played by Carol Speed of The Mack and Disco Godfather, is moving into a new house with her preacher husband [who is fiiiine]. The movie tries to have it any way it can get it by portraying the house itself as somewhat creepy and haunted, even though this in no way has anything to do with the plot. There’s a lot of “hangin’ with the girls” talk, and everyone is relentlessly cheerful and appreciative. Ah, Christians.
Meanwhile back in a cave in Africa Blacula digs up this box and has a man with a big erect cock carved into it. They turn the dick and a bunch of dust flies out, causing a big windstorm. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that the spirit of something or other [there’s a lot of exposition about how it’s a craven sex demon] has escaped. Now WHY this demon would choose to travel across continents and possess Blacula’s son’s wife [oh, I forget to tell you that Blacula is Abby’s father-in-law] is curious. We later find out that the demon possessed her in order to get at Blacula, but I think it has something more to do with a subtext of him wanting to put a killing on his son’s wife.
So back in Muncie or wherever the spirit stalks around the house, and the first glimmer we get that Abby is possessed is that she wakes up and wants some sugar from her fine husband [and who wouldn’t?] and he says that her skin is unusually cold. Then she vigorously masturbates in the shower. I thought she’d be possessed all at once, but no, it takes a while of her acting normal and then suddenly freaking out.
For example, there’s the chicken scene. We have more girl talk in the kitchen, then Abby gets very sensually aroused by cutting up chicken parts for dinner [and really, who can resist the erotic appeal?], lolling her tongue out of her mouth and everything. She then cuts her own wrist. Now here’s where you start to get a certain aspect of this movie, which is that several of the elements are genuinely good and scary. The whole shocking nature of these women standing around laughing and gossiping and then suddenly one of them slashes her wrists is pretty freaky and scary. There’s a fair amount of truly effective stuff here with Abby freaking out and acting like an animal, but I sense that the filmmakers don’t even know that it’s good. And it’s soon leavened by bad.
So Abby is kept in bed for a while as she weeps at what’s happening to her [and I have to say that Carol Speed does some pretty fine acting here], then she’s all better and singing a gospel song [written and performed by Carol Speed] in her husband’s church. He starts delivering a sermon, and she starts to choke. I began to think he was somewhat of an asshole as he tries to keep going on with his sermon and ignore his wife after it is quite clear that she’s in severe distress. He doesn’t even go to help her, he lets others see to that, and just looks pissed that his sermon is being interrupted. Thanks a lot, fuck knob.
Then Abby goes home and kills a woman in a fairly genuinely scary scene, and a while later kills a guy in a car, which for some reason causes great amounts of smoke to issue from the car. Abby has become very sexually craven [hello, sex demon y’all], and is going around to bars picking up men. Now I was hoping to glean a lot more titillation from her running around fucking everything in sight, but that’s not really what happens, much to my great snoritude. And around this time one can tell that certain scenes are being needlessly protracted to the Nth degree just to pad out the film’s running time. And that tends to annoy.
So meanwhile Abby’s husband makes several calls to his daddy Blacula in Africa, who shows that he is his son’s father by obviously NOT wanting to bother with interrupting his work to go help him and his stupid wife. But eventually he hops on a plane and comes back, and he starts preparing for his exorcism while the husband and brother are searching for Abby, who’s hitting the bar scene pretty hard, but without offering the viewer much fun in terms of hoots or vicarious sex.
SPOILERS > > >
They finally find her and the exorcism goes off pretty much without a hitch. It all just goes on forever, and by now one is just tired of the whole thing. After the seeming ending there is one more scene, at an airport, and because the movie is continuing to go on you start to think “oh, we’re going to have one last shock to show that she’s really still possessed, the end.” But no, she and her husband say goodbye to Mom and get on the plane, the end, leading to exclamations of “What the fuck was that?”
< < < SPOILERS END.
On the plus side, like I said, there is a bit of inadvertent quality, and as an added attraction there is a ton of [albeit fairly lame] disco music. And of course the requisite crazy 70s outfits and locales. Apparently the director, William Girdler, is some kind of noted auteur of crappy cinema [I had just watched his Grizzly recently], and like Grizzly, this one also featured a prominent product placement for Schlitz. The two movies also share a common composer in Robert O. Ragland, though his music here wasn’t nearly as hideously inappropriate as it was in Grizzly.
Anyway, overall it could be worse, but it’s still a bit of a turd. This shit is going up for sale immediately. Want to buy it?
You could do worse, but you could easily do a lot better.