BluRay/DVD Reviews

ABBY

By • Jun 1st, 2007 •

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1974
92 Minutes

In 1991 filmmaker Keith Crocker obtained a 16mm print of the William Girdler film, ABBY (1974), that was released for a short time by American International. In a situation similar to Val Lewton’s GHOST SHIP, the film was withdrawn from circulation due to a Warner Bros. lawsuit claiming that films dealing with possession were in violation of copyright due to THE EXORCIST, released in 1973. American International caved in and withdrew the movie, robbing viewers of an enjoyable experience and suppressing promising director William Girdler from getting the credit due him. It was not until Donn Davison, the American importer of the Italian film “Chi Sei?”, released as BEYOND THE DOOR (1975), took Warner Brothers to court and proved that the large film company did not have a monopoly on the subject of either possession or exorcism, that films with such themes were allowed to compete in the marketplace. Interesting to note that some elements of ABBY were to be later found in John Boorman’s EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC, released by Warner Bros!

But American International had by this time lost interest in Girdler’s film and never reissued it. Thirty years later, Keith Crocker and Cinefear Video (www.cinefear.com), working with a tight budget, has issued a DVD that is a real labor of love. Some have complained that the end result is not major studio perfect, but, when you consider the care that has gone into taking a lost film and working with little money, no backing, and then putting it back into circulation for all to view and enjoy, it is a relative complaint indeed. I got so caught up in the story that I hardly noticed the occasional emulsion scratch, splice, or slight color fading that would impair the viewing.

The cast is very good in this simple story of good against evil. 6 ft 5 in William Marshall, best known for his role as Prince Manuwalde in BLACULA, plays Bishop Williams, a cleric and professor of archaeology who enjoys his family and his work. At a picnic, William’s tells his son, Reverend Emmet Williams (Terry Carter), and his wife, Abby (Carol Speed) of his upcoming trip to Nigeria to gather information on the Yoruba religion. Arriving at the excavation site – located in a huge cave, a phallus-shaped box is discovered and opened which frees, in a scene of chaotic wind, the demon Eshu – god of depraved sexuality.

The demon makes its way back to the home of Emmet and Abby, where the entity starts to takes over the woman, gradually transforming her into the living incarnation of a foul succubus. Abby’s husband, brother (Austin Stoker) and Bishop Williams finally confront the possessed woman in a bar for a battle between light and darkness. With the exception of William Marshall, who felt the script needed work (it didn’t really go into African culture and the script wasn’t improved upon as promised him), the cast, especially Carol Speed, enjoyed making the movie, even writing and singing one of the film’s songs.

William Peter Blatty, author of the novel THE EXORCIST, was against the Warner Bros. lawsuit and was one of ABBY’s defenders. The writer had visited the set and saw that Girdler was making his own variation on the possession theme and had no problem with the movie – stating he liked it.

Now viewers finally have a chance to see this movie for themselves in the comfort of their own homes. So turn off the lights, get the popcorn popped up and snuggle up next to your honey.

Then get amused, grossed out, and scared stiff!


DVD Features:
Full Screen. Not enhanced for 16×9 monitor screens.
Digital master from 16mm print.
Scene Access.
Interactive Menus.
Stereo Sound.
Original Theatrical Trailer.
Original Radio Spot.
Theatrical Lobby Cards.
Poster Gallery.
Rare Production Stills.
The History Of ABBY.

CAST:
William Marshall,
Terry Carter,
Austin Stoker,
Juanita Moore
Carol Speed as “Abby”.

PRODUCTION:
Screenplay: G. Cornell Layne,
Story: William Girdler & G. Cornell Layne,
Producers: William Girdler, Mike Henry & G. Cornell Layne.
Music Composed and Conducted: Robert O. Ragland
Directed by William Girdler.

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