Halloween Horror Classics | Abby

31 10 2008


Our series continues with a scary story of a woman possessed who gives a whole new meaning of “having the devil in her,” in the 1974 horror film, “Abby.”

An intriguing blend of 70’s “blaxploitation” and an “Exorcist” clone, “Abby” is an effective and chilling film that incorporates elements of ancient African spiritualism into the conventions of the demon-possession genre.

The story begins in Nigeria, where Professor Williams (“Blacula’s” William Marshall) discovers a suggestive-looking fetish artifact in a cave once used by members of the sinister cult of “Eshu.” When the relic is opened, it releases a foul-tempered Eshu demon which quickly kills several people and pursues Williams all the way back to America, where it soon enters the home of the professor’s son Reverend Emmett (Terry Carter) and takes possession of the Reverend’s proper and lovely wife Abby (Carol Speed).

Emmett first begins to suspect something is amiss when Abby attempts suicide during a church picnic, but only after she begins vomiting in church and tormenting his congregation does he realize that her condition may not be mere insanity, and he consults his father for help. By the time the two men finally corner Abby in a sleazy bar, she has already seduced and killed several men.

The exorcism is performed right in the bar, as dashiki-clad Williams incorporates both Western and African religious rituals to purge the foul spirit from Abby’s body. Although Warner Brothers sought legal action against this film for its similarities to The Exorcist, this is no more of a rip-off than countless Italian variations on the formula, and its strong use of African religious traditions gives it a strength lacking in many low-budget blaxploitation films of the era.

Special thanks to Cavett Binion of “All Movie Guide.”

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