Monday, August 25, 2014

The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972)

Director: Waris Hussein

Writers: Matt Robinson, Irene Kamp, Ramona Stewart

Composer: Joe Raposo

Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Perry King, David Elliott, Lisa Kohane, Lovelady Powell, Barbara Trentham, Miriam Colon, Edmundo Rivera Alvarez, Teodorina Bello, Robert Burr, Michael Horden

More info: IMDb

Tagline: If you believe, no explanation is necessary. If you don't believe, no explanation is possible.

Plot: Shirley MacLaine stars as Norah Benson, a New Yorker who puzzles over sudden changes in her brother's behavior. Joel (King) has begun speaking Spanish and practicing strange rituals. In order to protect her family and save her brother, Norah must delve deep into the mysterious world of Santeria, where she begins to suspect that the spirit of a serial killer may be the reason for Joel's behavior.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

The above video is the best scene in the movie and it happens in the last fifteen minutes, the best section of the film.  It's a real slow go from the start.  MacLaine gives a fine performance but the picture drags enough that it feels like not much happens.  The seance/exorcism is long and repetitious.   The thing is I often like slow and deliberate but this picture needed some 'oomph', a little kick in the pants because the finale is so frenetic and horrific that it seems like it belongs to a different film.  This predates THE EXORCIST (1973) by a year and this might be the first (or at the very least one of the first) films about possession.  It's a curiosity to that degree but be prepared for that slow first hour and a half before the in-your-face finale.  The Paramount DVD offers up a great widescreen transfer devoid of any extras.

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