Monday, July 15, 2013

Abby (1974, William Girdler)

Quickly squashed by the producers of The Exorcist, Abby was billed as "The Black Exorcist" and is a clear rip-off of its predecessor. However, it is not without its own personality and charm.The film stars Blaxploitation mainstay and NGoN Carol Speed (The Mack, Disco Godfather) as the titular character, and William "Blacula" Marshall as Bishop Garnet Williams.

Marshall is a missionary and archaeologist who, on a trip to Africa, unearths and releases a demon from its prison. The demon makes its way back to his daughter-in-law, Abby. The Bishop returns after pleas from his son, just in time to find Abby going on a demonic killing spree.

Carol Speed gets to show off her genre-defying acting chops in this Jekyll & Hyde role, going from sweet, to sexy, to vile as the situation warrants. William Marshall, who is incapable of a bad performance, shows his typical awesomeness as the exorcist. Veteran voice actor, Bob Holt,who voiced The Hulk on the television show, and Grape Ape, does the overdub for Abby's demon voice. Terry Carter (Foxy Brown, "Battlestar Galactica", "The Phil Silver's Show") plays Abby's husband. Austin Stoker (Sheba Baby, Airport 1975, "Return to the Planet of the Apes") is another memorable performance. The rest of the cast is the typical mixed bag the genre is infamous for.

While this is clearly drawn from The Exorcist, a film whose impact is often forgotten, there are numerous differences. First, Abby and her demon are more Jekyll & Hyde than Reagan and her demon. Also, there is a strong element of voodoo (or an animist pastiche) as opposed to the straight Catholicism of The Exorcist. An interesting turn is that the Bishop declares that the demon is not who it says it is, for if it were he would be powerless against it.

I will tell you, the first few minutes of this film put me off, but as it went along it became more and more enjoyable. When under the demon's influence, Abby is a sort of psychotic libertine running wild in the streets. It is, frankly, quite a fun film and worth your time, if you can appreciate low-budget horror.

Abby did make a semi-recent DVD appearance, but can be found in an albeit poor form on YouTube, here.


Thomas Pluck said...

Cool. Never knew of this one, but I will check it out!

Darius Whiteplume said...

It is worth the 80-90 minutes for sure. Definitely campy and silly, but is not trying hard to be that way. Anything with William Marshall, however, is worth the effort.

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Jeanie Huston

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