US, 1974, 89 minutes, Colour.
William Marshall, Carol Speed, Terry Carter, Austin Stoker, Juanita Moore.
Directed by William Girdler.
Abby is a derivative film from The Exorcist using much of its plot. What distinguishes it is that is a black version of The Exorcist. It was directed by William Girdler who was to make a derivative Jaws in Grizzly. He also made The Day Of The Animals and returned The Exorcist theme with a bigger budget and with more prominent stars in his version of The Manitou, which has the same kind of plot except that the possession is by an Indian medicine man. Abby is to be seen in the light of the interest in occult films of the 70s.
1. Was this an entertaining film? Why? For what audience?
2. The film as seen in the atmosphere of The Exorcist and its box office success? Later response to the film on its own merits?
3. The film was described as 'blacksploitation'. How accurate is this? Was there anything more than using the Exorcist situation for box-office?
4. The credibility of the plot: how realistic, thriller aspects, the sensationalising of Devil-possession and exorcism?
5. The importance of the negro atmosphere, how well was this communicated? The way of life of the Americans? The negroes within the city? Their own traditions, churches, family atmosphere?
6. The focus on the character of Bishop Williams? As an exorcist? The background of his work in Nigeria, his knowledge, his personal qualities, way of coping with situations, relationship with his family? What was the nature of his power? Though a Christian, his focus on pagan deities? What god was he invoking for the exorcism? What was the reason for his success? How much interest in an exorcist via his character?
7. The presentation of the spirits: the visualising of their origins in Nigeria, the specifically negro origins? The effect of the spirits, their way of possession, their hold on Abby, aspects of violence and sexuality, their total malevolence towards others? The reaction to being exorcised?
8. The focus on Abby as the one possessed: the presenting of her as an ordinary young wife, her goodness, support for her husband? What was the reason for her being possessed? The nature of the manifestations? Audience response to the visual look of this and the sound of it? The picturing of malevolence? The irreligious aspects, violence and sexuality, blood lust?
9. The response of the husband and his plight? Love for his wife, reliance on his father?
10. The minor characters and their contribution to the plot, the credibility of the events: Abby's brother and mother?
11. The melodrama of the chase climax? How much suspense and tension? As appropriate for this kind of film?
12. The picture of the nightclub and Abby's presence, the sleazy background, the sex and violence overtones? The implications for the types of spirits possessing her?
13. How optimistic was the ending?
14. Did the film explore in any way the nature of evil? (How does the film show that evil is exploitable?)