4/19/11

Abby


Do you believe that things happen for a reason? I ask because I think that God wanted me to watch Abby. I was all set to sit down with The Green Slime, but the DVD was defective. "Fuck," I proclaimed. It dawned on me that I had a contingency plan. There was a sleazy blaxploitation flick sitting on my hard drive, and this was a good excuse to give it a swivel. Was this a sign? Was fate redirecting my path in life? Did God want me to learn from Abby, an illuminative parable about a Nigerian sex demon? Nah. It was just a dumb turn of events that allowed me to check out a film that I've been meaning to hit up for the longest time.

This 1974 Exorcist knock-off follows Bishop Williams, a vicar who excavates an African artifact that houses the spirit of Eshu. No, I don't need a moist towelette. Eshu is a Yorubian deity who personifies death and leads mortals to temptation. After Williams unknowingly releases this evil force, it possesses his daughter-in-law. Now that the synopsis is out of the way, there is something you need to know. Bishop Williams is played by William Marshall, the noble fellow who breathed fire into the role of Blacula in both Blacula and Scream, Blacula, Scream. He was trained in Shakespeare, and it shows in his stately performance. Abby would be a tough sell without his name on the bill.

I don't want to make it sound like Marshall is the meridian of a standard b-movie. This is a fun motion picture. It has a reputation for being a shot-for-shot clone of The Exorcist, but apart from one or two scenes, Abby has its own flavor. Don't get me wrong; I called it a knock-off because it's a knock-off. But in my opinion, there is a big difference between a knock-off and a rip-off. I don't recall a scene in The Exorcist where Linda Blair fucks a random stranger in a limousine and eats his soul (by the way, what's with the fog machine?). And unless I'm mistaken, the climax of William Friedkin's classic didn't take place in a disco bar.

Yes, sir. Abby is archetypal blaxploitation through and through. I dug it, but it does have its pitfalls. The editing is choppy, the side characters are interchangeable and the kills are dry. It's blatantly obvious that director William Girdler didn't have resources available to support special effects. We do see subliminal frames of a Captain Howdy-esque figure. Eshu isn't quite as creepy as Pazuzu, but then again, I don't know of any creepy blaxploitation flicks ( maybe?). Hopefully, J.D.'s RevengeAbby will receive proper DVD treatment. It calls for copious extras and a polished transfer. Which company is going to step up to the plate?

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