Unfortunately, “The Blaxorcist” isn’t actually the title of this film, allegedly it was almost the title at one point, but I’ve yet to confirm that anywhere. In fact, it’s hard to get much information about 1974’s Abby, William Girdler‘s pretty blatant rip-off of The Exorcist.
Maybe it’s just me, but I think “The Blaxorcist” is a much better title than the fairly innocuous “Abby.” How is it any worse than Blacula or Blackenstein or Dr. Black, Mr. Hyde? Of course, “The Blaxorcist” might have found the filmmakers in even more trouble with Warner Brothers, the studio responsible for The Exorcist. Abby is not a shot-for-shot remake, but it makes little attempt to distance itself from William Friedkin’s Academy Award-winning film.
Released the year after The Exorcist, Abby tells the story of a young preacher’s wife (played by Carol Speed) possessed by Eshu, the Nigerian god of sexuality. We learn all about Eshu in the exposition-heavy opening scene, where we also meet Bishop Garnett Williams (played by Blacula himself, William Marshall). If you can make it through the mountain of exposition, you’re in for a treat, because the rest of the film is pretty amazingly ridiculous. Seriously though, it opens like an Sesame Street segment. I felt like the writer assumed the audience for the film was either very high or very stupid.
After the intro, the film dives right into the low-budget rehashing of The Exorcist. Bishop Williams goes on an archeological dig in Nigeria, unwittingly unleashing the spirit of Eshu in the process. Now, for some unexplained reason, which is kinda hard to believe is never explained considering the amount of exposition, Eshu holds a grudge against Bishop Williams. So, Eshu possesses Abby, who is married to Rev. Emmett Williams, Bishop Williams’ son. (I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.)
Watered-down demonic hi-jinks ensue. Once possessed, Abby jumps around a lot, cackles maniacally, and humps just about everything. It reminds me of a Girls Gone Wild ad. Abby steers clear of a lot of the more “blasphemous” outbursts found in The Exorcist, and instead spends most of the movie calling everyone “mother-fucker” or insulting their libido. It seems all Eshu wants to do is have sex. The feeble attempts to mimic the flashes of “Captain Howdy” in The Exorcist are hilarious. Eshu looks less like a demon and more like a radioactive crackhead.
And apparently projectile vomit is an expensive effect, so here we have foaming at the mouth. The filmmakers didn’t seem to have much money for makeup either, so Abby’s possession is reflected in her pale complexion, yellow eyes and severely chapped lips…again, less possessed by a demon, more angry Hulk.
It’s just a ridiculous movie. God-awful in the best possible way. Completely derivative of The Exorcist, except with more sex and less production value. I recommend seeing just because it’s too ridiculous to believe. If you’re a fan of The Exorcist, it’s even better. But, good luck finding a copy. After Warner Brothers sued American International Pictures for ripping off The Exorcist, Abby was shelved pretty quickly. So, because of its legal troubles and subsequent obscurity there aren’t a lot of copies of the film out there on DVD. Still, if you can find a copy, give it a go.