Abby (1974)

R | 91-92 mins | Horror | 25 December 1974

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HISTORY

The working title for the film was Possess My Soul .
       A 30 Nov 1974 LAHExam news item reported that the film was shot on location in Louisville, Kentucky. DV announced on 27 Mar 1974 that Possess My Soul was scheduled to begin principal photography in Mar 1974. The film’s production company, Mid-America Pictures, which represented a merger between David Sheldon of American International Pictures and director-producer William Girdler, was also based in Louisville, according to news items on 3 Jul 1974 in Var and 12 Aug 1974 in Box . Although Box reported that the film was set to be distributed in the autumn of 1974, it was not released until Christmas day.
       According to HR on 16 Dec 1977, Warner Bros.’s 1975 lawsuit against Mid-America Pictures and American International Pictures for copyright infringement of The Exorcist (1973, see entry) was settled out of court for an undisclosed cash payment. Warner Bros. claimed that Abby was “substantially similar to its own picture” and that the studio suffered damages because of its release. Instructions from the settlement included the stipulation that Abby could not be reissued without permission from Warner Bros. In its review of Abby on 23 Dec 1974, Box mentioned that the film replicated The Exorcist “down to the camera angles” but that it changed the formula so that the possessed character was an adult woman instead of a child, allowing for a more sexually explicit ... More Less

The working title for the film was Possess My Soul .
       A 30 Nov 1974 LAHExam news item reported that the film was shot on location in Louisville, Kentucky. DV announced on 27 Mar 1974 that Possess My Soul was scheduled to begin principal photography in Mar 1974. The film’s production company, Mid-America Pictures, which represented a merger between David Sheldon of American International Pictures and director-producer William Girdler, was also based in Louisville, according to news items on 3 Jul 1974 in Var and 12 Aug 1974 in Box . Although Box reported that the film was set to be distributed in the autumn of 1974, it was not released until Christmas day.
       According to HR on 16 Dec 1977, Warner Bros.’s 1975 lawsuit against Mid-America Pictures and American International Pictures for copyright infringement of The Exorcist (1973, see entry) was settled out of court for an undisclosed cash payment. Warner Bros. claimed that Abby was “substantially similar to its own picture” and that the studio suffered damages because of its release. Instructions from the settlement included the stipulation that Abby could not be reissued without permission from Warner Bros. In its review of Abby on 23 Dec 1974, Box mentioned that the film replicated The Exorcist “down to the camera angles” but that it changed the formula so that the possessed character was an adult woman instead of a child, allowing for a more sexually explicit narrative.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Aug 1974.
---
Box Office
23 Dec 1974
p. 4746.
Daily Variety
27 Mar 1974.
---
Daily Variety
26 Dec 1974
p. 3, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 1974
p. 3, 7.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Dec 1977.
---
LAHExam
30 Nov 1974.
---
New York Times
26 Dec 1974
p. 53.
Variety
3 Jul 1974.
---
Variety
1 Jan 1975
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A William Girdler Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Still cam
Gaffer
Gaffer/Best boy
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Post prod supv
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des & dressing
Property
Set foreman
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Tech asst
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Make-up
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Casting dir
Prod secy
Asst to the prod
Loc equip
SOURCES
SONGS
"My Soul Is a Witness," written and performed by Carol Speed
"Gone Woman," sung by George Gentre Griffin
"Will We Find Our Tomorrow," sung by Patti Henderson.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Possess My Soul
Release Date:
25 December 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 25 December 1974
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab
Duration(in mins):
91-92
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

At a picnic in Louisville, Kentucky, archeologist and minister Dr. Garnet Williams tells his college students about an upcoming trip to Nigeria where he will research the ancient Eshu cult. When a student questions the evil and violent practices of modern Eshus, Dr. Williams says that Eshu is the most powerful deity on earth. As a parting gift, the students give Dr. Williams a crucifix. At an archeological excavation in a Nigerian cave, Dr. Williams finds an ancient wood box, carved with an image of Eshu. As Dr. Williams opens it, a fierce wind is unleashed, throwing several onlookers to their death. Back in Louisville, Dr. Garnet Williams’s son, the Reverend Emmett Williams and Emmett’s wife, Abby, move into their new parsonage. Emmett is awakened in the night by a wind that shakes the house and the couple makes love. The next morning, Abby becomes sexually aroused in the shower and possessed by a dark shadow. While doing laundry, another fierce wind blows through the basement, leaving Abby further entranced. At dinner, Emmett explains his father’s work to Abby’s mother, Momma Potter, and brother, Cass Potter, but suggests that Dr. Williams is more interested in his research than in his missionary work. Emmett raises a toast, but his glass breaks spontaneously. Later, while Abby cuts chicken at work, she becomes mesmerized by the blood and uses the knife to slice through her arm. During a church service, Abby sings but then chokes and becomes hysterical as Emmett recites his sermon. Emmett contacts his father in Nigeria to ask for help with Abby, but Dr. Williams says ... +


At a picnic in Louisville, Kentucky, archeologist and minister Dr. Garnet Williams tells his college students about an upcoming trip to Nigeria where he will research the ancient Eshu cult. When a student questions the evil and violent practices of modern Eshus, Dr. Williams says that Eshu is the most powerful deity on earth. As a parting gift, the students give Dr. Williams a crucifix. At an archeological excavation in a Nigerian cave, Dr. Williams finds an ancient wood box, carved with an image of Eshu. As Dr. Williams opens it, a fierce wind is unleashed, throwing several onlookers to their death. Back in Louisville, Dr. Garnet Williams’s son, the Reverend Emmett Williams and Emmett’s wife, Abby, move into their new parsonage. Emmett is awakened in the night by a wind that shakes the house and the couple makes love. The next morning, Abby becomes sexually aroused in the shower and possessed by a dark shadow. While doing laundry, another fierce wind blows through the basement, leaving Abby further entranced. At dinner, Emmett explains his father’s work to Abby’s mother, Momma Potter, and brother, Cass Potter, but suggests that Dr. Williams is more interested in his research than in his missionary work. Emmett raises a toast, but his glass breaks spontaneously. Later, while Abby cuts chicken at work, she becomes mesmerized by the blood and uses the knife to slice through her arm. During a church service, Abby sings but then chokes and becomes hysterical as Emmett recites his sermon. Emmett contacts his father in Nigeria to ask for help with Abby, but Dr. Williams says he is conducting the most important research of his career and will not be home for two weeks. Abby’s behavior becomes increasingly violent and her voice deepens. When visited by the church organist, Abby becomes possessed and causes the woman to die from a heart attack. Emmett calls his father again to report that Abby has gotten worse and Dr. Williams promises to return home immediately, but as he hangs up the phone, a strong wind destroys his office. Meanwhile, hospital tests show no neurological abnormalities in Abby, and the doctor recommends that she see a psychiatrist. In her hospital room, Abby again becomes possessed. She tells Emmett that she is waiting to take vengeance against his father, but she escapes from the hospital before Dr. Williams arrives. At home, Abby surprises her husband and father-in-law when they return from the airport. When Abby attempts to seduce Dr. Williams, he speaks to the demon inside of her and demands she be released, but she overpowers the men and drives away, leaving the house overturned by a torrential wind. As Emmett steals a car to go after Abby, Dr. Williams tells Cass that she is possessed by the spirit of Eshu which he released in Nigeria and that they must eliminate the hostile forces within her house that evening or she will die. Emmett calls from a payphone to report that he has heard from Abby, who seemed to be at a nightclub because of the background noise. While Emmett and Cass search for Abby in bars, Abby seduces men and takes possession of their souls. Cass calls Dr. Williams to report that they have found Abby, and he goes to meet them. Meanwhile, Emmett confronts Abby as she flirts with men at the bar. Cass fires his gun in the air to rescue Emmett from a mob of jeering bar patrons, but as the crowd disperses, Abby uses her powers to restrain Emmett and Cass. Dr. Williams enters the bar, wielding his crucifix and pronouncing that Eshu’s time has come. As Cass and Emmett follow Dr. Williams’s directions and grab Abby’s arms, she accuses the minister of being jealous, but he insists that she is a false representation of Eshu. Abby levitates while Dr. Williams dresses in an African costume and prays to the god Alorin. The three men join hands and create a purple light around Abby. Dr. Williams anoints her with potions and the bar seethes with a violent wind and explosions. In the wake of the chaos, Eshu’s spirit returns to the box that Dr. Williams found in Nigeria. Abby cries in Emmett’s arms, unaware of what has happened, and Dr. Williams says her spirit will return with patience. Some time later, Emmett and Abby leave for a vacation, once again a happy, loving couple. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.