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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Possession Of Joel Delaney (1972)

A divorced Manhattan socialite (Shirley MacLaine) lives in an insular world of cocktail parties, benefits, charity events, dining in 4 star restaurants etc. But she begins to get disturbed when her younger brother (Perry King) begins speaking in Spanish (a language he doesn't know) and performing strange rituals. When his girlfriend (Barbara Trentham) is brutally murdered, she begins to suspect the worst. Based on the novel by Ramona Stewart, this was released the year before THE EXORCIST. Directed by Waris Hussein, this languidly paced thriller delves into the world of Santeria (a Caribbean "religion" that mixes the Yoruba religion derived from Nigeria with Roman Catholicism). Although it deals with possession, the film has no special effects (no spinning heads, no pea soup) and instead opts for a grittier realistic take on possession. The film's finale caused controversy at the time of its release and it's still difficult to watch today as it not only includes terrorizing minor children but child nudity in the original release and the DVD incarnation while still containing the nudity is altered. If made today, that scene would never have been allowed. MacLaine gives a strong, well thought out performance balancing uptight repression with just the right amount of hysteria when required. With Michael Hordern, Miriam Colon and Lovelady Powell. 

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