Friday, October 12, 2007
When I heard that there was a movie that was known as THE BLACK EXORCIST - I knew that I had to seek it out. What I found was ABBY (1974, directed by William Girdler), a crazy blaxploitation thriller about a preacher's wife possessed by an evil African sex spirit. Supposedly Warner Bros. had sued to keep ABBY out of circulation due to it's similarities to THE EXORCIST. Obviously, nobody at Warners actually bothered to watch it.
The story starts as out a group of students bid farewell to their favorite teacher, a Reverend (played by BLACULA star William Marshall) who is leaving on a research trip to Nigeria. One student mentions his "thesis" about four or five times, somehow managing to rhyme it with "feces". Soon we all learn about "Eshu" - some kind of god or demon or something that is very powerful - it creates whirlwinds and chaos. Then one of the students gives Prof. Rev. Blacula Sr. (what I'll call him) a ridiculously large silver crucifix. Thanks, um, I think. Then we are treated to the "Love Theme from Abby" over the hardest-to-read-opening-titles ever.
Now we're in Africa, where Prof. Rev. Blacula Sr. finds a wooden lunchbox, which when opened releases the recently mentioned Eshu. Imagine that! Eshu - by the way - looks like a bad INCREDIBLE HULK mask made out of green Play-Doh.
Back home, the professor's son Rev. Blacula Jr. (Terry Carter) and his pretty wife Abby (Carol Speed) move into a new house. Abby's mother (played by Hollywood legend Juanita Moore of IMITATION OF LIFE fame) is there help, by carrying a big box that says "Eggs" and by ordering a bucket from KFC. (I swear to Eshu - I'm not making this up!)
So, after settling in a bit in the new home, Abby decides to shower - unaware that the evil spirit Eshu has travelled cross the sea to pay her a visit. So we are treated to Abby's showering shadow being attacked by what looks like the shadow of Bigfoot. Soon Abby's helping the church ladies prepare a chicken meal, when she suddenly gets the urge to stab herself. I think she just thought her arm was a chicken breast. Innocent mistake. After the doctor bandages her up, Abby freaks out about not wanting scars on her arm. Well, you should have thought about that BEFORE you stabbed yourself, Abby.
Later Abby is leading the choir at her husband's church, but flips out during his sermon, first just coughing uncontrollably, then attacking a churchgoer and finally foaming at the mouth!!! This scene is pretty amazing because it takes so long for anyone to even attempt to help her, even when she was just coughing - no one even offers her water or a cough drop! Rev. Blacula Jr. calls his father overseas and mentions that Abby's acting strange. Prof. Rev. Blacula Sr. seems too preoccupied with his "work" and tells his son that Abby just needs rest. Later, he tries to get on with his wife, but Abby tells him, "I'm not your 'ho!" and then kicks him in the balls.
Next up, when another couple visits, Abby declares that she's gonna "fuck the shit out of" the husband. Clearly, something is up with Abby. It was here that I noticed that Abby's possession turns her into an odd combination of Carol Burnett's Eunice and RuPaul. Then the church organist pays a visit to a bedridden Abby and ends up dying of fright!
Rev. Blacula Jr. calls his father again, and dad begrudgingly agrees to come home to help. Then Abby is given a medical exam, but everything turns out normal. Abby tells her husband, "I wanna thank you for callin' that mother fuckin' father of yours. Give him my worst regards." In the best scene in the film, possessed by Eshu, Abby declares "I'm goin' home, bitch!" and escapes from the hospital, plowing through assorted nurses, patients and doctors.
Abby turns up at her home, with a big "welcome home" for the senior Reverend - she tries to give him a lapdance.
Abby then gets behind the wheel and drives to a disco and picks up a nerdy looking dude from her church. Her husband "borrows" some woman's car and chases after her. Abby and the church dude start going at it in his car (can't tell if it's a limo or a hearse) , but then the car starts to shake and fill with smoke. We never find out what actually happened, before we can question it, Abby then returns to the club, where she sets her sights on creepy Doc Severinsen lookalike. They soon disappear into a room upstairs. You have to wonder where Abby gets her bad taste in men from.
Meanwhile, Abby's detective brother joins Rev. Blacula Jr. in a search for our missing heroine. They eventually find her disco-dancing with TWO men! Then Abby decides to start tossing patrons around the room. Prof. Rev. Blacula Sr. finally shows up with his big ass crucifix. Abby then grows a unibrow, levitates and Eshu releases his wrath on the entire disco! Yay! I'm not gonna tell you how it ends - but suffice to say we see that old wooden lunchbox from Nigeria again!
Well, ABBY was cerftainly a treat. Carol Speed was fun to watch and you can't help but love Juanita Moore as her mama. My theory is that Juanita had memorized all her lines from IMITATION OF LIFE and just recited them again here. I really was hoping to LOVE this movie - but the best I can muster is 8 out of 10 "Huhs?". I'm really hoping some day for a big budget remake starring Wanda Sykes and Billy Dee Williams.