Repossessed (1990)

Author: Josh G.
Submitted by: Josh G.   Date : 2009-10-06 13:40

Written and Directed by: Bob Logan
Starring: Linda Blair, Ned Beatty and Leslie Nielsen

Reviewed by: Josh G.

“Satan, stop! Where do you think you’re going?”

Linda, Linda. From The Exorcist and Born Innocent, to Hell Night and Savage Streets, Linda Blair gained a cult following in the thriller and horror genre with often low budget films getting off the ground. I suppose she thought that her career could hit heights with Repossessed, a sort of spoof of The Exorcist that was probably trying to cash in on The Exorcist III at the time. It sadly bombed despite the recognizable names of funnyman Leslie Nielsen and Ned Beatty, or the same little girl all grown up from the then seventeen year-old flick that the spoof was spoofing. I guess you can never really trust box offices to tell you the whole truth about whether or not a movie is worth watching or not, but let me tell you. The numbers are jaw-droppingly weak, even for 1990. Perhaps the laughs were fresh for back then, but do they come off as dated today? For good and evil, the answer is yes and yes.

Nancy Aglet (Blair) is all grown up, with a husband and two children, having forgotten all about the night seventeen years ago when Father Jebedaiah Mayii (Nielsen) exorcised the devil out of her body. But while watching a televangelist show, the spirit (?) of the devil enters Nancy once again for some more fun with pea soup spewing and head twisting. Young priest Father Luke (Anthony Starke) seeks help for the poor woman by asking for help from his fellow Fathers, but ends up arranging Nancy to be on the televangelist show she was watching in the first place, with Ernest (Beatty) and Fanny Ray Weller (Lana Schwab). When the broadcast goes awry and Satan takes the reign of the show, Father Mayii enters once again to help Father Luke vanquish the evil inside Nancy through his holy power of slapstick gags and Exorcist references. This time you’ll scream...with laughter.

Take caution horror viewers. This is not like your Student Bodies horror comedies. Well actually, it is quite like it, but Repossessed takes wackiness to another level, leaving the only horror-ish elements to be the demon controlled Nancy and the exorcism. Nearly everything else is what you would expect: Airplane! comedy (to a much less funny extent) with a silly plot that just tries to move its whole self from scene to scene. The first bit is honestly, pretty hilarious, where we first meet Linda Blair, her family, and the tip of the new possession. But as soon as we jump into the priest business, the picture slowly gets bumped off the road with dull comedy cracks where only one in three may give you a chuckle. The best laughs come from the nature of the settings reacting to the characters, rather than the lines of the cast.

Linda’s performance actually surprised me. Her demon possessed self is hokey by today’s comedic standards, but she follows through making you believe that she really is Satan – on laughing gas of course. Father Luke is sort of a wooden addition, but Leslie lifts him up in his scenes even when Nielsen himself wavers at making a strong audience impression. I think the best part is handed to Fanny Ray Weller, an obvious take on Tammy Fae Bakker, late real life televangelist whose husband was jailed for money fraud. Fanny’s puppy and kitty obsessed show-off persona hits the funny bone purely because what she is imitating is near spot on to the real thing; a small stretch from the ridiculousness of the make-up and pet adoring older tv hosts of the day.

I can’t help but think that Repossessed came out at the wrong time. Without a doubt, an Exorcist spoof would not have worked in 1973 for the ones who had actually seen the first film were still trying to get over the horror they experienced from the real deal. In 1990, even with the third entry, however it seems like a film past its time. Then again, Scary Movie 2's brief stunt of the Exorcist spoof opening works rather well. So is it just that Repossessed possesses too many cheap attacks, failing to work on genuine memorable comedic gold. After seeing it, your life moves on rather quickly. There are some good times, but looking back, Repossessed doesn’t stand out at all except for being ‘that film Linda Blair and Leslie Nielsen both starred in’. Broadcasting an exorcism is a brilliant approach to go on if you want the theatre roaring with belly fulls, but it’s all a missed opportunity here with some exceptions.

Lionsgate rereleased Repossessed recently (that’s a lot a re-’s!). As part of the Lost Film Collection, along with Slaughter High and others, it is a missed chance for the company to show its film loyalty with just a shitty VHS transfer that is barely stronger than a video image. Sound is 2.0 mono and boy does it sound it. Overall, a huge disappointment of a DVD, even if the material is sub par, especially since there are no extras at all. It teeters and wobbles and almost falls down as a form of entertainment. Riding a thin line, luckily it has enough in it, as dated as some jokes may be, to be worth your glance. It just lacks refreshment that’s all. Oh, here is one final ‘re-’ for you. Rent it!

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