With all the countless hours I spent watching the boob tube in my youth, how is it even possible that I have never come across the 1977 made-for-television EXORCIST wannabe entitled THE POSSESSED? Jeez, the darn thing takes place in an all girls school and stars DEAD AND BURIED‘s JAMES FARENTINO for Pete’s sake. FARENTINO plays an ex-priest who, during a near death experience, is told to get his ass back to Earth and start stomping evil. That premise alone would have placed it high on my must obsess about list but egad, the entire cast is like a who’s who of soon to be stalked by me stars.
Just imagine that future Wookie pal, whip virtuoso and debatable Replicant HARRISON FORD shows up to play a smoldering, in more way than one, biology teacher; and his hot to trot students include ANN DUSENBERRY (JAWS 2), DIANA SCARWID (PSYCHO 3), DINAH MANOFF (CHILD’S PLAY) and wholly Toledo P.J., “I always forget my chemistry book and my math book, and my English book, and my, let’s see, my French book, and… well who needs books anyway, I don’t need books, I always forget all my books, I mean, it doesn’t really matter if you have your books or not” SOLES of you know, HALLOWEEN (and of course, CARRIE).
O.K. it’s not exactly scary by today’s standards, and it is of course stifled a bit in its need to keep notice of prime time censors, but I feel pretty confident that if I had caught this back in my youth it would have freaked me out in a serious way. FARENTINO begins investigating a number of increasingly dangerous fires that seem to be igniting on their own or perhaps are sparked by one of the school girl’s unwanted affiliation with the occult. Before you know it some characters are exiting stage right engulfed by flames and eventually the culprit is revealed to be someone rather low on the suspect list. The final poolside showdown between priest and possessed may lack spinning heads and levitation, but it almost makes up for that with it’s one of a kind nail spitting sequence.
Truth be told, Aunt John (an unrepentant devotee of nonsensical made-for-T.V. cinema) was more than a little miffed that zero was given as far as any explanation for what we had just witnessed, and he does have a point. Who knows what the hell was going on at this crazy school where kids ride their bikes in the hall and HARRISON FORD is treated like a garden variety himbo? Frankly, I’m not sure I want to know. I just wish this baby was made into a series. Plus c’mon, I’m not the type to look a gift P.J. SOLES in the mouth, especially if that mouth has the potential to spit nails!