HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Mighty Wind, A
Man at the Top
Guru the Mad Monk
Jezebel
Monos
Life at the Top
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
   
 
Newest Articles
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
   
 
  Possession of Joel Delaney, The Spectre of PovertyBuy this film here.
Year: 1972
Director: Waris Hussein
Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Perry King, David Elliott, Lisa Kohane, Lovelady Powell, Barbara Trentham, Miriam Colon, Edmundo Rivera Álvarez, Teodorina Bello, Robert Burr, Ernesto Gonzalez, Peter Turgeon, William Hawley, Auki Herger, Earle Hyman, Michael Hordern
Genre: Horror, Drama
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Norah Benson (Shirley MacLaine) is a New York socialite who has recently been divorced from her top surgeon husband, leaving her with a small fortune and two kids (and a dog) to look after in their posh apartment, helped by her Puerto Rican maid Veronica (Miriam Colon). She dotes over her younger brother Joel Delaney (Perry King) who also has a Puerto Rican connection in that he lives in one of their neighbourhoods, wishing to get to know the more impoverished side of life for reasons best known to himself, but he regularly spends time with his sister and plays with her children, all a happy family though Norah is perhaps a little too close to Joel than she would care to admit. But one night, he goes unexpectedly berserk...

The clue to what was happening was all in the title as Joel gets so immersed in Puerto Rican culture that he actually changes race; no, he doesn't put on makeup, though the way this ended could be just as offensive to watch for those unprepared for just how upfront about disturbing the audience the film wished to be, but of course hardly anybody talks about this anymore and that was down to a certain mega-blockbuster showing up a few months later and demolishing every other horror movie in its path. That was The Exorcist, which instead of depicting a slumming rich boy being possessed took the far more emotionally worrying teenage girl getting plunged into the realm of Satan, but Joel Delaney could be just as concerning, if only for the effect the victim had on others.

There was a big difference between what this did to posit the possession problem and what William Friedkin did with his epic chiller, and that was because even at the end we could still believe that any supernatural involvement could be explained by the fact that Joel is suffering from a mental breakdown rather than some outside force causing him to behave so erratically, and finally murderously. Even in that last shot where we were asked to draw our own conclusions could point to a no less tragic but equally explicable by psychology decision from the viewer, and indeed director Waris Hussein (from television usually, and helmed the first ever Doctor Who story) seemed keen to promote debate among the audience about what they had witnessed, from the rational to the irrational.

Another aspect on the movie's mind was the class one, as Norah is a cossetted and wealthy woman about town, not having to worry about where her next meal is coming from, and not worrying about anything very much in the lap of luxury until she is frightened into investigating another world even having a maid from a different culture has not prompted her to take an interest in until it becomes a threat. This gives us one story about what might be afflicting her brother that you can take or leave; she doesn't appear too certain throughout, not that his prevents her taking part in a lengthy "voodoo" ceremony in a dingy flat among people she had previously never given a thought to: Veronica's neighbours. And that story? Joel has been taken over by the spirit of one of the local boys who recently died.

Complicating matters is that the boy had a predilection towards serial killing, and has apparently been decapitating folks just before his demise, which could have traumatised Joel, who knew him, into emulating his behaviour, or maybe the killer has taken over his mind, ironically thanks to the voodoo Norah seeks to cure Joel with. MacLaine was making some exceedingly dark films around this point in her career, and it's debatable whether this was the grimmest, but one look at the last fifteen minutes may well make up the minds of many that the production had gone too far in trying to unnerve the audience and had wound up revolting them instead. No, it doesn't get gory as The Exorcist would, but the sheer psychological torture it puts Norah's family through - those kids were either very accomplished actors or genuinely terrified - is enough to turn plenty off from what had been a deliberately paced but heavy with dread drama. With a chill you can feel in your bones, this was no simple escapism, a chance to enjoy a safe fright, it intended to confront the complacent. Music by Joe Raposo.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1605 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: