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The Best Exorcism Movies Ever Made

Abby (1974)

Unsurprisingly, the success of The Exorcist brought about many rip-offs, but few are as interesting as Abby. Like most Blaxploitation pictures, Abby features incredibly low production values and incredibly high talent. The former came from producer and director William Girdler, who also made the Jaws pretenders Day of the Animals and Grizzly. The latter came from the cast, starting with the great William Marshall as archaeologist and bishop Garret Williams, who must free the titular preacher’s wife (Carol Speed) from possession by the Yoruban trickster spirit Eshu. 

Despite its inspirations, Abby leans into the schlock that only made up part of The Exorcist. Most of the movie’s energy comes from watching the sweet Abby become more profane, soliciting men in vulgar terms. And yet, the cast brings legitimate gravitas to the proceedings, especially the quiet dignity of Bishop Williams. But at the end of the day, that wasn’t enough to prevent Warner Bros. from slapping the film with a copyright violation claim and getting it removed from theaters.  

Amityville II: The Possession (1982)

Technically, all of the mainline Amityville movies are about possession, as residents of the house at 112 Ocean Lane find themselves under the control of an evil source. And while exorcisms do occur in most of the entries, Amityville II is the most memorable. The predecessor The Amityville Horror rode the wave of post-Exorcist horror respectability to appear like a very grown-up film with grown-up concerns. Amityville II has no such pretensions, indulging in the sleaziness of the premise and pushing it to the farthest degree. 

Directed by Damiano Damiani and written by Thomas Lee Wallace and Dardano Sacchetti, based on the book Murder In Amityville by Hans Holzer, Amityville II retells the murder of the Dafeo family through the fictional Montelli family. As teen Sonny (Jack Magner) grows more disturbed, including eventually starting an incestuous relationship with his sister Patricia (Diane Franklin), the Catholic Motellis reach out to Father Frank Adamsky (James Olson). Keeping with the movie’s overheated tone, Father Adamsky defies the rules of the church to perform his exorcism, leading to a ridiculous, but entertaining, conclusion. 

Repossessed (1990)

Anything good enough to be lauded is good enough to be mocked, so of course a parody of The Exorcist made it to theaters. Well, a few theaters, anyway, before being shuffled out to video after a couple of months. And, to be fair, video is where Repossessed belongs, a cheesy spoof that leans into its wonderfully corny jokes. How corny, you ask? Well, Leslie Nielsen’s Father Merrin-like character is called Father Mayii (say it out loud and you’ll get it). 

Helping Repossessed’s cheesy jokes is its commitment to verisimilitude. In the same way that Young Frankenstein gains power by using the set and props from 1931’s Frankenstein, Repossessed casts Linda Blair as Nancy Aglet, a meek housewife who gets possessed after watching televangelists, driving Father Mayii and Father Luke Brophy (Anthony Starke, but not that one), into action. It isn’t high art, but anyone who needs a break from the ideals of exorcism movies will find a lot to like with Repossessed

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