The poster tag-line for the 1974 Exorcist rip-off, and cult favorite movie, Abby, when it was released read: “Abby doesn’t need a man anymore. The Devil
is her lover now!”
And I confess that it’s far from being one of the greatest black
films ever made, but it’s sure as hell one of the most fun to watch (and for the record, the greatest black film ever made is Three The Hard Way).
The film was written and directed by Louisville native, William Girdler, who went on to have a
very prolific career as a filmmaker during the 70′s, directing several films, including, the Jaws rip-off, Grizzly, and the unbelievable and truly
weird The Manitou, which was released
after his sudden death in a plane crash in 1978.
The film stars Carol
Speed in the lead role, and Blacula himself, William Marshall, as the exorcist, and follows a woman who, like Linda Blair, is possessed by the Devil.
But not just any ordinary devil – an “African sex devil,” which means
Abby goes around being a real slut and tearing shit up, until Marshall arrives
to drive the evil demon from her body in some Louisville dive in the hood.
Interestingly – a fact I didn’t know until
recently – Carol Speed got the lead in the film when the original actress cast in the
part got upset, when she found out that, because of the film’s low
budget, she wouldn’t be provided with a massage therapist. She then walked off the project, and Speed
got the role just before shooting began.
But the film gained notoriety for a particular reason: Despite the fact that there were dozens of Exorcist rip-offs made after the
original film was released, for some reason, Abby really got under Warner Bros’ craw.
The studio thought Abby was so much a blatant copy of
their film (Exorcist) that they went to court and won a copyright infringement case
against Abby. The result was that Abby was eventually pulled from distribution, but not before the film became a box office
hit (mainly because audiences saw it as
one of the funniest films of the year).
Though the film was originally picked up for distribution
by American International Pictures,
the film’s current ownership is somewhat muddled, which is why, about 8 years ago,
after decades of not being available, it started
showing up on various
DVDs made from an old, scratchy 16MM print, most likely the only existing
print available today.
But now, some generous soul has now made it available
on YouTube for anyone interested in it, to watch for themselves, in full.
Talk about a film ripe for discovery! But be warned – I wouldn’t exactly call it an undiscovered masterpiece either: