Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Possessed (1977)

Network: NBC
Original Air Date: May 1st, 1977

A defrocked priest named Kevin Leahy (James Farentino) finds himself at the Helen Page School for Girls after a series of unexplainable fires wreaks havoc across the campus. The school is run by two sisters, Louise Gelson & Ellen Sumner (Joan Hackett & Claudette Nevins, respectively) who are preparing to make the all girl’s school co-ed for financial reasons. They are also tackling the current group of rebellious female students, including Ellen’s daughter, Weezie (Ann Dusenberry, not Isabel Sanford) who is getting all friendly with a handsome biology teacher named Paul Winjam (a young Harrison Ford). Could the oversexed atmosphere of the school be causing things to go up in flames? Leahy eventually uncovers the most sinister of sources, Satan himself, and will have to battle to the death to save these lost souls.

An interesting concept and one of the better possession movies of that time period to do a riff on The Exorcist, The Possessed is quietly disturbing and the shocks are surprisingly effective. Like the Linda Blair classic, this movie is about sound, or moreso, lack thereof. With nary a score and lots of eerily quiet scenes, The Possessed might not feature some of the more outrageous images but there’s just something working to get inside of you.

The cast is incredible. A young Harrison Ford is probably the most recognizable face, but Ann Dusenberry, Diana Scharwid, Eugene Roche, Dinah Manoff, the always reliable Joan Hackett and PJ Soles all show up and add that extra bit of consistency to an otherworldly plot.

Relying on archetypal pacing and traditional storytelling with just a touch of 70s sexed up sordidness, The Possessed is a creepy classic.


Craig Edwards said...

With TV movie turnaround times - this had to be shot after Star Wars, I would think - if only NBC had waited a month - they could have touted an original movie starring "Han Solo!" I wonder if it was rerun with his participation beefed up in the ads?

Sadly, another movie I missed back in the day. I did see HF in the Star Wars Holiday Special though!

Amanda By Night said...

The Possessed is on DVD now through Warner Archives. Definitely worth a watch!

Amanda By Night said...

The Possessed is on DVD now through Warner Archives. Definitely worth a watch!