I was pretty squeamish when I was younger, so it took me a while to appreciate the appeal of horror flicks… and I’ve always preferred comedies above all else, which explains why I watched a silly, sub-par, Airplane!-esque spoof of The Exorcist a decade or so before I’d seen the Oscar-worthy film it was mocking!
For those who don’t know, Repossessed (1990) stars Linda Blair as ‘Nancy Aglet’, a wholesome suburban housewife who’s hiding a sinister supernatural secret from her family… specifically the fact that as a teenager she was possessed by the Devil, and had to be rigorously exorcised by a wacky, face-pulling priest, named ‘Father Jedediah Mayii’ (Leslie Nielsen). Now, many years later, she finds herself calling on the church’s help once again, after she sits too close to the TV screen and accidentally gets herself re-possessed. Hence the title. By this point Mayii has retired with a dicky ticker and doesn’t feel up to the challenge, so he fobs the assignment off on a younger clergyman, ‘Luke Brophy’ (Anthony Starke), who has begun to doubt his calling. In a bid to generate some positive publicity, Brophy is ordered by his sanctified superiors to team up with a couple of showboating televangelists, ‘Ernest and Fanny Ray Weller’ (Ned Beatty and Lana Schwab), and perform the exorcism live on national television! Occasional amusement ensures.
There are a few silly visual gags here that still raise a chuckle, but most of the jokes have dated very badly (assuming they were ever funny to begin with), and the casual, gratuitous sexism makes it seem particularly stale. There were also several cameos by people I presume were contemporary “celebrities” (or look-alikes of same), who were totally unknown/insignificant to me… I only recognised former wrestler Jesse “The Body” Ventura (who provides deeply irritating and unfunny “colour commentary” on the exorcism scene) because he eventually went into politics. Obviously I’m biased, but I thought Blair did a great job here… I mean, she was a good sport to even consider appearing in this movie at all, but she was also the only cast member to consistently make me laugh out loud with her line readings and comical expressions. And she looks totes adorable wearing an oversized priest’s outfit, during a body-swap gag, bless her.
Overall, I think it’s worth checking out if you admire Blair as an actress and want to see her do some comedy schtick, but I assume most hardcore Exorcist fans would find the jokes at their fave film’s expense rather too obvious and obnoxious. There’s only so many “pea soup” and vomit gags you can sit through, right?
Note: This movie also features a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance by Barbara Alyn Woods, who is better known these days for her long-running roles as ‘Deborah “Deb” Lee’ in One Tree Hill, and ‘Diane Szalinski’ in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show. Here she plays a giggly bimbo who agrees to give her boyfriend oral pleasure in an elevator, just so Blair can make a corny “Are you getting off?” pun. Oy.