Cool Cinema Trash: The Adventurers (1970)


Cool Cinema Trash

adventurers_xlgThe average filmgoer might be fooled by the lush music and artistic backdrop used in the opening credits of The Adventurers (1970). But any true fan of cool cinema trash will recognize these flourishes as vain attempts at cinematic respectability. When the names of producer Joseph E. Levine and novelist Harold Robbins appear onscreen, you know you’re in for a genuinely trashy experience.

What it’s all about: In the fictional South American country of Corteguay, young Dax Xenos (Loris Loddi) plays on a verdant hillside with his puppy. Their carefree frolicking is soon ended when the dog is shot dead.

Now, what kind of movie kills a puppy in it’s opening moments? This kind. Hang on tight, because there’s lots more sex, violence and melodrama to come.

Dax and the women of the household hide in the cellar as government soldiers ransack their villa. The soldiers rape and kill the women, including the young boy’s mother and sister. Dax escapes and brings back his father (Fernando Rey), a lawyer who has joined in the fight to overthrow the government’s tyrannical regime. Young Dax asks for the honor of killing the captured solders. “For my mother, for my sister, for Corteguay!” he declares, using a machine gun to execute them.

Dax is taken to the relative safety of the hacienda owned by revolutionary General Rojo (Alan Badel). Dax befriends Amparo, Rojo’s daughter. One afternoon the children stumble upon a couple skinny-dipping. “He rapes her and she rapes him,” Dax explains. He declines Amparo’s suggestion that they “play” like the adults do. “I think I have to kill you afterwards.” Boy, this kid is going to need some serious therapy.

Dax and Amparo escape amid gunfire and explosions when the hacienda is set ablaze in a savage nighttime raid. They evade soldiers and overcome harsh weather in a montage of their perilous trek across the rugged countryside. When they finally reach civilization, people are rejoicing in the streets. The government has been overthrown. Amparo’s father is now el Presidente and Dax’s father will become a Corteguayan ambassador.

In Rome, Dax (now played by Bekim Fehmiu) has grown into a suave playboy whose only passion is for fast cars and fast women. His best friends are the well-to-do sons of his father’s business associates, Sergei Nikovitch (Thommy Berggren) and Robert de Coyne (Christian Roberts). After a rousing game on the polo field, Dax and his cohorts race their sports cars through the Italian countryside to the villa de Coyne.

After a party that leaves the house in a shambles, Dax invites Robert’s sister for a midnight swim. With the voyeuristic eyes of countless statuary watching them, Fehmiu and actress Delia Boccardo engage in the first of the film’s laugh-out-loud love scenes. As they silently writhe poolside, Dax envisions the long ago rape of this sister. Strangely, this doesn’t seem to dampen the mood. The camera zooms in and out, in and out, as the scene finally reaches it’s, um…climax. When the Baron de Coyne (Rossano Brazzi) arrives home to find the disgraceful remnants of the previous nights orgy, he cuts Robert off.

When Dax’s father makes a return trip to Corteguay, he is shocked to discover the level of violence and extravagance on which Rojo has built his new regime. When el Presidente is told that Dax’s father has befriended the new revolutionary leader, el Condor, the kindly lawyer is asassinated via an exploding air tram.

Dax returns to take part in his father’s spectacularly lavish state funeral. Presidente Roja, wearing a feathered helmet that makes him look like Big Bird’s fey uncle, asks Dax to continue to honorably serve Corteguay the way his father once did. But before Dax can be persuaded to barter a deal between the government and el Condor, he is reunited with his childhood sweetheart, Amparo (now played by Leigh Taylor-Young). Since no woman can resist him, they’re soon burning up the sheets.

El Condor is convinced to lay down his arms in the name of peace, but it is a trap. Dax and long-time family friend Fat Cat (Ernest Borgnine) helplessly watch as tanks and soldiers on horseback massacre the oblivious revolutionaries. “Until you’ve learned that evil and politics must tolerate each other,” Rojo explains, “There’s no place for you here.”

Leaving Amparo and his homeland behind, Dax vows, “I’ll do anything to get money and power… and then I shall come back.”

“Anything” apparently includes turning tricks. Now penniless, Dax, Sergei and Robert come up with a cockamamie scheme to woo wealthy American women and raise the funds for a dress salon that will feature Sergei’s designs. Since the best way to earn a quick buck (according to the twisted logic of the movie) is to open an exclusive European fashion house, the boys immediately get to work.

One of Dax’s female patrons is Deborah Hadley, played by Olivia de Havilland. Though her role is little more than a cameo, de Havilland conducts herself with a level of grace that belies the actual material. When Dax arrives at her hotel suite, she primly asks, “Maybe this whole thing’s a little ridiculous?”

Is she questioning the film, or her role in it? As expected, she finds him irresistible and after several days of making love and seeing the sights, she pays him a tidy sum for services rendered.

As any fan of cool cinema trash can attest, the only thing better than watching a really good bad movie, is a really good bad movie with questionable fashion. Cinematic runway shows are always good for a laugh and The Adventurers doesn’t disappoint. Models, wearing Sergei’s designs, traipse through ancient roman ruins to the delight of an appreciative audience.

After the show, Dax sets his sights on poor little rich girl Sue Ann Daley (Candice Bergen). They begin their affair with a lover’s montage. Their entire courtship is covered within minutes as they glide along the canals of Venice and visit the fountain of Trevi. Sue Ann celebrates turning 21 at a swanky party where fireworks illuminate a sparkling portrait and spell out “Happy Birthday Sue Ann”.

But Dax has a different kind of celebration in mind. In a moment that practically bashes the viewer over the head with sexual symbolism, he deflowers Sue Ann in a greenhouse filled with exotic blooms. Fireworks explode outside as they literally get hot and sweaty in the film’s second giggle-inducing love scene.

When Sue Ann fumes, “This is really humiliating,” you may wonder if Bergen has broken character and decided to comment on her choice of film roles. Actually, she’s upset because Dax is late for their wedding day. Dax isn’t about to pass up Sue Ann’s millions and the ceremony goes off without a hitch. Their honeymoon doesn’t last for long. While pushing his expectant bride on a swing, the chain breaks and Sue Ann takes a nasty fall.

So far, the wooden performances of Bergen and Fehmiu have been evenly matched. But when she tells him that she has miscarried and can no longer have children, Bergen emotes as if she were in an old Douglas Sirk melodrama. In any other film, it’s at this point that the end credits would roll, but for The Adventurers, it’s only the intermission.

Civil war continues to rage in Corteguay. El Lobo has taken up the fight against Rojo’s fascist government. The revolutionaries successfully raid an airfield and prevent munitions from entering the country. Meanwhile, in New York, we get to watch another of Sergei’s ridiculous fashion shows. Models wearing outrageously mod outfits prance and pose on a flashing disco dance floor.

After the show, a reporter from Teen magazine (future Charlie’s Angel Jacyln Smith) asks Dax, “Is it true you’ve made love to every woman in this room?” The answer would seem to be yes. In the past five years, Dax has been busy marrying and divorcing several wealthy women. Sergei is now unhappily married to Sue Ann. She, in turn, is having an affair with his mistress.

Dax begrudgingly returns to Corteguay for the lavish dedication of a memorial in his father’s honor. He visits Amparo, who has spent the past several years in a convent in exile. She reveals that she has a child, Dax’s son.

Rojo requests that Dax help raise capital for the fight in Corteguay. Olivia de Havilland returns for a brief moment as her wealthy and influential husband helps Dax raise the millions he needs. On the Brooklyn Bridge, Robert informs Dax that he has been double-crossed. An old business associate (Charles Aznavour) has been profiting from the war and making secret deals with Rojo. With Fat Cat’s help, they imprison the swindler in his own outrageously decorated secret pleasure dungeon.

Dax returns once again to his homeland and helps el Lobo stop the new weapons shipment. In an extravagant battle sequence, they destroy a train carrying troops and weapons. A new revolution is born and the march toward the capital city begins. Dax is disillusioned with his country’s tumultuous and bloody history, “Pillage. Rape. Destruction. Death. It’s always the same.”

As the people celebrate their victory on the steps of the presidential palace, Rojo begs for swift justice. When Dax refuses to kill him, Rojo admits that he issued the order to kill Dax’s father. Well, when you put it that way. Dax empties several rounds into el Presidente.

Dax later finds his son and Amparo nursing the wounded in a makeshift hospital. “Don’t save me just to leave me Dax,” she pleads as they make plans to escape to Rome. In a frustratingly cynical ending, Dax stays behind as he sends his loved ones to the airport. In the capital square, the son of el Condor exacts revenge for his father’s betrayal and shoots Dax in the back. As the sun rises on a new day, our hero lays dead in the shadow of his father’s monument.

Talk about a downer.

In Conclusion: With a running time of nearly 3 hours, The Adventurers is big in every conceivable way. Shot on location all over the world and (in certain cases) featuring a cast of thousands, it’s certainly the most lavish adaptation of a Harold Robbins bestseller ever brought to the silver screen. Millions were spent to achieve a grandeur that matched the large-scale scope of the story. Director Lewis Gilbert, who was best known for his action films, seemed a logical choice to handle a project of this size. With three James Bond films to his credit, his expertise at staging large-scale fight sequences was certainly put to good use in The Adventurers. The epic battle scenes, with exploding trains, planes and tanks, are some of the most effective in the movie. But whenever the action shifts towards the quieter, character driven moments, Gilbert seems to loose interest. Despite the fact that he co-wrote the script, most of the dramatic scenes are handled in a flat, unimaginative way.

Yugoslavian born Bekim Fehmiu was unknown to American audiences when he was cast as the charismatic stud Dax Xenos. Though handsome in a brutish sort-of way, Fehmiu’s performance is fascinatingly stilted. Every moment, whether big or small, is played with the same stony-faced indifference. Every female character falls for him instantly, despite the fact that he is practically charisma-free.

His co-stars don’t fare much better. With the exception of de Havilland, the other leading ladies seem at a complete loss. There’s little chemistry between Fehmiu and Candice Bergen. The Adventurers was early in her transition from model to actress. She would eventually go on to bigger and better things. Fehmiu, on the other hand, never made another American film, though he successfully continued his career in Europe.

When The Adventurers was released in 1970, it was originally rated R. Two years later it was re-released in an edited PG version. The DVD contains the original uncut version of the film, though it has mistakenly been labeled as PG.

Like most of the movies based on a Harold Robbins potboiler, we’re supposed to be shocked by the scandalous nature of the story. But with ludicrous sex scenes, spectacular violence, funky fashions, and stars that are obviously slumming, the only thing that’s shocking about The Adventurers is that audiences were expected to take it seriously.

Cool Cinema Trash: Yor the Hunter From the Future (1983)

Cool Cinema Trash

yorYor’s World! He’s the man!

What happens when you cross the sword and sorcery of Conan the Barbarian (1982) with the sci-fi cheese of Flash Gordon (1980)? You get the high camp adventures of a barbarian named Yor the Hunter From the Future (1983). Directed by Italian genre mainstay Antonio Marghetti (aka Anthony Dawson) and shot entirely in Turkey, Yor is a weird, wild and unintentionally silly ride that is sure to induce laughter in even the most jaded cinephile.

What it’s all about: You know you’re in for a good time when the film opens with the rousing theme, “Yor’s World”. The songwriting team of Guido and Maurizio De Angelis were clearly inspired Queen’s raucous score for Flash Gordon, but in this case they’ve managed to fashion a one of a kind tune that’s nearly impossible to understand. Ask ten people what the lyrics to “Yor’s World” are, and you’ll get ten completely different answers.

Once the opening credits are complete, Cave gal Ka-Laa (former Bond Girl Corinne Clery) and her elderly companion/father figure Pag (Luciano Pigozzi) get busy hunting a piglet in a dinosaur costume. They are suddenly attacked by an animatronic triceratops. Blonde barbarian hero Yor (Reb Brown) hears their cries and quickly springs into action. With a few well-placed swings of his stone axe, Yor dispatches the beast and drinks its blood. He offers some to his new friends, “Drink. The blood of your enemy makes you stronger. I’m Yor the hunter. I come from the high mountain.” Pag admires his taste in jewelry. Setting up a future plot point, he asks where Yor’s medallion came from. “I’ve had it ever since I can remember.”

Yor is invited to join the tribe’s feasting and frivolity. Ka-Laa does a special hip-swaying dance routine just for Yor, but their tentative flirtations are put on hold when the village is attacked by a horde of hairy purple-faced Cro-Magnon men. Murder and mayhem ensue. Yor does his best to defend his new friends and escapes to the river with Ka-Laa.

Their freedom is short lived when Ka-Laa is kidnapped and Yor is tossed over a cliff. But it seems that you can’t keep a good barbarian down for long, he climbs back up the mountainside and goes with Pag in search of Ka-Laa. They find her in the Cro-Magnon’s cave hideout. They wait until nightfall for the right moment to attack.

In a scene that is spectacular in it’s absurdity, Yor uses a bow and arrow to shoot down a “creature of the night”. He uses the bat-creatures body as a hang glider and swoops in to rescue Ka-Laa. Yor then unleashes the waters of an underground lake, washing away his Cro-Magnon opponents.

Yor, Ka-Laa and Pag journey into the desert for the next phase of their adventure. “I’m afraid death rules this land,” Ka-Laa tells her beloved before he sets out in search of the mysterious woman who wears a golden amulet just like his. He comes across a band of leprous desert dwellers who chase after him with torches. After he is captured, he is brought to the beautiful blond who serves as their queen. Roa (Ayshe Gul) has the same medallion as Yor, but knows nothing of their origins.

Before he can be sacrificed, Yor battles the diseased cave-dudes with a flaming sword, escaping with his new lady-friend in tow. Ka-Laa is less than thrilled with the latest addition to their merry little band. They construct a raft and head down river Huck Finn-style.

“Do you know that I have never belonged to another man,” Roa tells our hero by the side of a romantic waterfall, “I have never felt the desire, the longing I feel now for you.”

Ka-Laa intends to fight for her man and later corners Roa alone. Yor may be a big, dumb barbarian, but he’s her big, dumb barbarian. “Only one of us can belong to him.”

“You cannot understand,” Roa says, insinuating that she and Yor have a very special bond.

Drawing a knife, Ka-Laa assures her, “I understand… that one of us must die!”

Don’t fuck with Ka-Laa ‘cause she’ll cut ya!

Before the girl fight can really get started, the purple cavemen barge in, spoiling all the fun. Yor rescues the gals and goes mano a mano with the chief Cro-Magnon who anachronistically shouts, “Die! Die you bastard!”

Roa is conked on the head during the melee and, with her dying breath, tells Yor she remembers their people come from a far away island in the middle of the sea. “We’ve all lost loved ones,” Pag philosophizes, “But life goes on.”

At the seashore, the trio are enjoying the good life when they hear the desperate cries of someone in peril. Yor and his pals come to the rescue of Tarita (Marina Rocchi) who is being menaced by a clumsy looking dimetarodon. They kill the beast and Tarita offers herself to Yor in thanks who, it seems, has finally learned his lesson concerning the opposite sex. “You’re a sweet child Tarita, but I already have a woman.”

They head to the seaside village where her people watch the skies for the return of a fiery bird. It seems they recently killed a man who fell from the sky and fear that more is to come. The village later comes under attack as lasers fill the night sky. Yor vows to avenge the deaths of Tarita’a people and sets sail for the island Roa spoke of. Yor, Ka-Laa and Pag are immediately besieged by a huge storm and crash on the very island they were searching for.

With little explanation, the film switches genres at this point, going from a silly barbarian adventure to an outlandish sci-fi fantasy.

Yor awakens in a laboratory where Ena (Carole Andre) tells him that his parents were rebels who escaped the island but died soon upon their arrival in the primitive outside world. The Overlord (John Steiner) watches from the safety of his throne room as Yor searches the catacombs of the city for his friends. Yor eventually reunites with Ka-Laa in a maze of mirrors.

Back in the laboratory, the Overlord reveals his plans for Yor, “You are to be the forefather of a new race together with Ka-Laa, this genetically perfect woman as your mate. I am experimenting with a new type of android which requires the seed of a specimen like yourself.” Ena and her rebel friends stop the Overlord from performing a mind-altering operation on Yor and quickly set about battling the robot bad guys.

To destroy an atomic reactor, Yor must swing across a wide chasm to set a bomb in place. Once the device is set, Yor is trapped, so Pag executes some fancy trapeze work and swings to Yor’s aid. Amusingly, obvious miniatures are used in this rescue sequence. Once the Ken doll/Yor stand-in has swung safely back to the other side, our hero confronts the Overlord. The climatic confrontation is over rather quickly when Yor picks up a pole and tosses it javelin-style, impaling the Overlord. With half a wooden dowel sticking out of his gut, the Overlord tries to diffuse the bomb, but the explosion sets off a chain reaction, destroying several miniature sets.

Yor and his friends escape in a jet fighter, the craft literally sailing off into the sunset.

In conclusion: If Yor’s adventures seem episodic, it’s because the film was originally made as a four part series for Italian TV. After it aired, the show was edited to 90 minutes and released theatrically. This is the version most fans are familiar with, the complete television version being extremely rare and nearly impossible to find. CCT’s review was based on the 90 min. cut. A search on the Internet reveals that he main difference between the two versions seems to be the length of the fight scenes. Yor’s fights with the Cro-Magnons as well as his encounters with the dinosaurs are longer and bloodier. One scene that didn’t make the cut features Yor and Ka-Laa battling a snake-like creature in a tree trunk where they hide after the first Cro-Magnon attack.

I just found this sing-a-long version of the theme song and it’s better than I could’ve ever dreamed! Yor’s World!

Cool Cinema Trash: Meteor (1979)

Cool Cinema Trash


It’s five miles wide… it’s coming at 30,000 m.p.h… and there’s no place on earth to hide!

As part of its attempt to compete with the major studios, American International Pictures (AIP) produced Meteor (1979). Best known for beach party movies and low-budget horror and sci-fi films, AIP was counting on Meteor to be its big-budget prestige blockbuster. Unfortunately, no matter how much (or how little) they spent on special effects or an all-star cast, the movie’s low-budget origins were always apparent. It tries so very hard to be like the other disaster hits of the era, but fails in nearly every attempt. This is why Meteor is an endearing Cool Cinema Trash favorite.

What it’s all about: The opening titles that swoop across the screen superman-style are accompanied by an Age of Aquarius musical intro that sounds like it came from Wayne Newton’s Las Vegas revue. A title card (an attempt to build suspense?) counts down the days until earth’s destruction.

Monday – Sean Connery, formerly of NASA, is plucked from his sailboat mid-race to meet with Karl Malden, who sets up the movies premise through flashback.

A U.S. space probe is destroyed while it observes a comet passing through an asteroid belt. A huge chunk of Orpheus (the antagonist needs a name, right?) now threatens earth. This sequence displays the shoddy effects work that will plague the rest of the film. There’s nothing wrong with old school techniques, as long as they’re done well. That’s not the case here. The models, which get an inordinate amount of screen time, never look larger than their actual twelve to twenty-four inch dimensions and the process matte shots look consistently sloppy.

Connery had developed an intergalactic defense system to counter such a threat, but the government overtook the project for military use. He begrudgingly agrees to help and, as he leaves, delivers the movies best line, “What do you want me to do? Stick a broom up my ass so I can sweep the floor on the way out?”

While reading a dossier on Hercules (the project he created), Connery stares at the space age chandelier in his hotel room which, we soon see, looks a lot like the orbiting Hercules missile station. Even though it happened mere moments before, Connery hears Malden’s dire prediction in an audio flashback, “There’s a chunk of Orpheus heading towards earth, a pretty big one. Six days from now we could be hit.” This doomsday prophecy prompts the first of many meteor close-ups. Laurence Rosenthal provides Orpheus with his own theme song, a giggle inducing ominous guitar riff.

Tuesday – Connery reads a newspaper whose top story is the space observatory disaster. The headline reads: What Went Wrong? The producers of Meteor were probably asking the same question.

Malden, in his own uniquely hammy style, spells it out. “That meteor is five miles wide and it’s definitely gonna hit us!”

Connery’s answer, “Shit. Five miles?”

The Cold War political machine is soon set into motion. President Henry Fonda acknowledges the existence of Hercules and that to destroy Orpheus they will need the help of a similar Russian weapons system called Peter the Great. In a poor composite shot Orpheus passes, then eclipses the sun.

Wednesday – In a top secret facility underneath New York City our cast assembles, including Russian delegate Brian Keith and his translator/assistant Natalie Wood.

Thursday – As the meteor plods ever closer, the political haggling continues. Neither side is willing to fully admit the extent of their nuclear arsenal. Complicating matters is drama queen Martin Landau, a general whose panties are in a perpetual bunch over the most insignificant protocol breeches.

Friday – The first pieces of Orpheus strike earth. In the middle of a frozen wasteland a Siberian family must flee into the night when a meteorite crashes into the mountains. While Keith sleeps off his jet lag, Connery has a chance to chat up Wood. After the long version of her life story he gets the information he’s really after. She’s a cosmonaut’s widow. “And now, is there anyone?” he asks.

“Nothing serious, not really.” She cryptically answers.

After a harmless meteor shower in Europe, the pompous Landau asserts, “It’s a pity the world has been sent into a state of unnecessary panic. That’s your threat Dr. Bradley, a fireworks display.”

Connery’s patience is wearing thin, “Tell this asshole once and for all that Orpheus will not burn up, it’s too damn big!”

Landau has a screaming hissy fit and storms out. After witnessing such a scene, Keith unleashes his own verbal tirade (entirely in Russian) giving the U.S. complete support and the use of Peter the Great. This Glasnost pairing is celebrated with shots of Russian vodka. In an extended sequence, we watch as the satellites are very slowly repositioned, turning away from earthbound enemies, to aim at the interstellar threat.

Saturday – A meteor fragment hits a Swiss mountaintop, burying an Alpine ski chalet and snow bunny Sybil Danning. This avalanche sequence contains an awkward marriage of location shots and miniature work. What’s even worse is that it also contains stock footage from another movie, Avalanche (1978).

In the oval office, Malden briefs the president on the plan to blow up Orpheus. “Get rid of it,” is Fonda’s executive order.

Sunday – As our scientists wait for the chance to launch their missiles, Wood grills Connery about his personal life. Things are just starting to get cozy when there’s a report of a giant “splinter” that has created a tidal wave heading for Hong Kong. Asian extras flee Godzilla-style as a stock footage wave heads right for them. A brave fisherman attempts to save his wife and child, but they’re submerged by some soggy special effects.

Tense moments pass in New York as the Russian missiles are finally launched. Seeing that the world has indeed gone to hell in a hand basket, Landau returns to eat crow. After shaking Malden’s hand he offers, “I’ll be in my office…if you need me.” Not very likely, but it’s the thought that counts.

As they prepare to fire the remaining U.S. warheads, they receive word that a meteorite is headed straight for NYC. As the launch begins and the missiles slowly embark on their trip towards Orpheus, a blazing ball of fire moves through the sky over New York. The destruction of New York should have been the movies spectacular highlight, instead it’s laughably been done on the cheap using tinted demolition footage!

In this post 9/11 age, watching monuments being destroyed can sometimes be unsettling. In the one concession to a restricted budget, the effects team on Meteor blows up a model of the Twin Towers. But, like everything else in the film, the moment is so poorly realized that it’s difficult to tell just what exactly is being destroyed. That being said, the Meteor DVD, released sometime in 2000, prominently features stars Natalie Wood, Sean Connery and an exploding World Trade Center in its cover art.

The New York underground facility takes a beating, columns fall, chandeliers crash. When the dust settles it appears that all our major stars have survived. The only exception is (thankfully) Martin Landau, making Meteor one of the disaster movies with the highest all-star survival rate.

With the main entrance blocked by debris, our ragtag group of scientists must make their way to the surface via a subway tunnel. The weakened walls of the tunnel crack and the muddy waters of the East River begin to flood the passageway forcing extras and stars alike to fight their way through the filthy, slimy mess.

In outer space, the nuclear warheads finally reach Orpheus and the massive charcoal briquette explodes in a fiery cataclysm. The global threat is over.

Back on earth, a smoldering matte painting reveals a giant crater in the center of Manhattan.

After making it out of the subway, Keith and Wood board a plane that is homeland bound. Connery gives Wood farewell kiss, and as the plane flies away, an informational slide appears. Attempting to bridge the gap between science fact and science fiction, a voice-over tells us that in 1968 the brains at MIT developed Project: Icarus to combat a global threat like Orpheus. Whew. We’ll all rest easier knowing that a plan created over fourty-five years ago is protecting us from cosmic destruction.

Cool Cinema Trash: Abby (1974)

Cool Cinema Trash

abby_xlgAbby doesn’t need a man anymore… The Devil is her lover now!

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Abby (1974), the story of a woman possessed by an evil African sex spirit, was “inspired” by the blockbuster success of The Exorcist (1973). Warner Brothers, the studio behind The Exorcist, sued the makers of Abby and had it pulled from theatres. The suit was eventually settled and Abby faded into cult movie obscurity… until now.

What it’s all about: One sunny afternoon, a group of college students bid farewell to their favorite teacher who is leaving on a research trip to Nigeria. If it weren’t for the establishing crane shot, you’d swear that this ragtag group had grabbed an old 8mm camera and shot the scenes that we’re now watching. Not only does Abby look like it was made on the cheap, but the acting is also decidedly amateur. One student stumbles through his line reading with several pauses punctuated with “Umm’s” and “Uhh’s”. But who can blame him? The dialog between the professor and his students is amusingly clunky. It’s only purpose is to provide backstory and set-up the action that is to follow.

“Eshu is the most powerful of all earthly deities,” Professor Williams (William Marshall) lectures. “Eshu is a trickster, creator of whirlwinds… chaos.” As a going away gift, his students give him an insanely large mirrored crucifix. Talk about bling!

After the opening credits, the action shifts to Africa, where Professor Williams and his assistants discover an interesting ancient artifact. They open the hand carved box and a fierce wind rips through the cave, releasing Eshu.

Back in the states, the professor’s son Emmett (Terry Carter) and his wife Abby (Carol Speed) move into their new home. Abby’s mother (Juanita Moore) helps the young couple set up house. Over a meal of fried chicken, reverend Emmett proudly announces that, in addition to his wife’s work with the church youth program and junior choir, Abby has earned her certification for marriage counseling. Momma couldn’t be happier. “Ain’t no sin in bein’ proud of doin’ a good job, livin’ a good life and lovin’ a good man.”

The evil spirit that the professor set free has somehow made it’s way into Abby’s happy home. How Eshu crossed the globe and chose to inhabit the professor’s daughter-in-law is never explained. When Abby takes a shower and reenacts the Herbal Essence shampoo commercial, it’s clear that she just ain’t feelin’ right. She is attacked by and unseen force in the basement and is overcome by suicidal tendencies while preparing chicken in the church kitchen.

Abby is understandably upset when she finds that she’s cut herself, but Carol Speed’s method acting gets a little too method in a scene with Moore. She blubbers so loudly that her lines are completely (and amusingly) unintelligible.

You have to give Speed credit though; she certainly doesn’t hold anything back. Standing before her husband’s congregation, Abby leads the choir in an excruciating hymnal. She sings, “My Love is a Witness” so poorly that you’d assume that it’s the work of the devil, but no, these are the vocal stylings of the “normal” Abby. Later, during her husbands sermon, she goes completely bonkers, attacking a congregant while laughing and foaming at the mouth.

That night, Emmett tries to get his wife in the mood by quoting some scripture, but Abby, or rather Eshu, ain’t playin’. With the gravelly voice of a soul possessed, Abby tells him, “I’m not your ‘ho. Shit, you ain’t got enough to satisfy me, you impotent son of a bitch!” She then kicks him in the crotch. Who knew that demonic possession would be as zany as an episode of America’s Funniest Home Videos?

When Abby counsels a young married couple, it goes as you might expect. “All men are not created equal. Better make sure what he’s got first,” she growls while ripping off her dress. “I’m gonna take ole’ long George upstairs and fuck the shit out of him!”

Emmett tries to calm her. “God, Abby, what ever possessed you to do a thing like that?”

She tosses him on the bed, straddles him and proceeds to bitch slap him, “You’re gonna love and obey me!”

An elderly neighbor woman (Nancy Lee Owens) pays a visit to a housebound Abby. With tongue wagging, she proceeds to terrorize the old lady, giving her a heart attack. As her geriatric corpse is taken away, a doctor offers his assessment of the situation, “It’s all very unusual.”

Emmett places a panicked overseas call to his father and begs him to return home. Abby is given a through medical exam, but nothing abnormal can be found. Angelic one moment, devilish the next, Abby tells her husband, “I wanna thank you for callin’ that mother fuckin’ father of yours. Give him my worst regards.”

In an unintentionally amusing sequence (ah hell, they’re all unintentionally amusing) the diminutive Speed tosses both hospital staff and patients aside. “You asshole,” the foul-mouthed Eshu shouts, “I’m goin’ home, bitch!”

Abby escapes the hospital and arrives home in time to welcome Father Williams. In all seriousness and with Shakespearian intensity, Marshall commands, “Hear me demon! Leave this woman’s body!”

“I’m not through with Abby yet,” Eshu laughs, unleashing his earthshaking demonic power.

Feeling the need to get her groove on, Abby/Eshu heads to a local bar filled with patrons dressed in a shocking array of 70’s pimp-a-licious fashion. Abby picks up a member of her husbands congregation. They go for a drive and park in a remote location. When he can’t satisfy her, Eshu kills him, or at least we assume so. The car starts to shake and fill with smoke. A demonic smoke bomb is certainly a cheaper special effect than say, a spinning head or pea green puke.

Returning to the bar, Abby next sets her sights on an annoying white guy who thinks his W.C. Fields impersonation will get her hot. Inexplicably, it does. They slink off to a private room upstairs. Eww. What kind of bar is this anyway? Thankfully, whitey is never heard from again.

Abby’s brother, Detective Cass (Austin Stoker) has joined Emmett in his search for his wayward wife. They eventually find her in the bar making time with two brothers. Once Abby/Eshu clears the room by tossing the men around, she gives a typically warm greeting to Professor Williams, “Hello motherfucker!”

With his XXXL piece of Christian bling for protection, Father Williams begins the exorcism. Who’d have ever guessed that the battle between good and evil would be so… well, chatty. Eshu and Williams try to out-talk one another before Emmett and Cass finally subdue her.

Light as a feather, stiff as a board. Abby does some fancy levitating before Williams finally gets down to business. As he recites his godly incantations, all hell breaks loose. The liquor bottles, the jukebox… heck, even the disco ball, explode as Eshu is driven from Abby’s body. Once she is finally free of demonic possession, Father Williams slings his jacket over his shoulder and saunters out of the bar. Ah, all in a day’s work.

The final scene shows Abby and Emmett as they leave on a well-deserved vacation. Abby waves good-bye to her mother, “Momma, I wuv you.”

Yes, she actually says wuv, proving that you may be able to purge a demon from your soul, but that doesn’t mean you won’t loose a few brain cells in the process.

In Conclusion: The Collector’s Edition DVD of Abby marks the first time this cult gem has been available to the public since it’s initial release. Though bad movie fans can rejoice in the fact that Abby can finally be seen, this is hardly a pristine or difinitve version of the film. The quality of the print used is pretty atrocious. With all the scratches, discoloration and audio distortion, it looks as if the reels were unspooled and dragged over 50 miles of bad road. A trailer and radio spot are included as extras, as well as a selection of production art and a text essay detailing the film’s troubled history. CineFear’s DVD release of Abby went out-of-print a short time after it came out. Copies of the film from other distributors can still be found at certain specialty retailers. Though the quality leaves something to be desired, fans of Blaxploitation and low-budget horror are sure to appreciate this camp classic from genre director William Girdler.