Brand Name: Movies 4U
Dir. William Girdler
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Abby (1974), the story of a woman possessed by an evil African sex spirit, was "inspired" by the blockbuster success of The Exorcist (1973).
Warner Brothers, the studio behind The Exorcist, sued the makers of Abby and had it pulled from theaters.
The suit was eventually settled and Abby faded into cult movie obscurity... until now.
One sunny afternoon, a group of college students bid farewell to their favorite teacher who is leaving on a research trip to Nigeria. If it weren't for the establishing crane shot, you'd swear that this ragtag group had grabbed an old 8mm camera and shot the scenes that we're now watching. Not only does Abby look like it was made on the cheap, but the acting is also decidedly amateur. One student stumbles through his line reading with several pauses punctuated with "Umm's" and "Uhh's". But who can blame him? The dialog between the professor and his students is amusingly clunky. It's only purpose is to provide back-story and set-up the action that is to follow.
"Eshu is the most powerful of all earthly deities," Professor Williams (William Marshall) lectures. "Eshu is a trickster, creator of whirlwinds... chaos."
As a going away gift, his students give him an insanely large mirrored crucifix. Talk about bling!
After the opening credits, the action shifts to Africa, where Professor Williams and his assistants discover an interesting ancient artifact. They open the hand carved box and a fierce wind rips through the cave, releasing Eshu.
Back in the states, the professor's son Emmett (Terry Carter) and his wife Abby (Carol Speed) move into their new home. Abby's mother (Juanita Moore) helps the young couple set up house. Over a meal of fried chicken, reverend Emmett proudly announces that, in addition to his wife's work with the church youth program and junior choir, Abby has earned her certification for marriage counseling. Momma couldn't be happier. "Ain't no sin in bein' proud of doin' a good job, livin' a good life and lovin' a good man."
The evil spirit that the professor set free has somehow made it's way into Abby's happy home. How Eshu crossed the globe and chose to inhabit the professor's daughter-in-law is never explained. When Abby takes a shower and reenacts the Herbal Essence shampoo commercial, it's clear that she just ain't feelin' right. She is attacked by and unseen force in the basement and is overcome by suicidal tendencies while preparing chicken in the church kitchen.
Abby is understandably upset when she finds that she's cut herself, but Carol Speed's method acting gets a little too method in a scene with Moore. She blubbers so loudly that her lines are completely (and amusingly) unintelligible.
You have to give Speed credit though; she certainly doesn't hold anything back. Standing before her husband's congregation, Abby leads the choir in an excruciating hymnal. She sings, "My Love is a Witness" so poorly that you'd assume that it's the work of the devil, but no, these are the vocal stylings of the "normal" Abby. Later, during her husbands sermon, she goes completely bonkers, attacking a congregant while laughing and foaming at the mouth.
That night, Emmett tries to get his wife in the mood by quoting some scripture, but Abby, or rather Eshu, ain't playin'. With the gravelly voice of a soul possessed, Abby tells him, "I'm not your 'ho. Shit, you ain't got enough to satisfy me, you impotent son of a bitch!" She then kicks him in the crotch. Who knew that demonic possession would be as zany as an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos?
Starring William "Blacula" Marsh
Run Time Approx 90mins
VHS & DVD