The big picture
- The possessed is a television film from the 1970s that falls into the category “Exorcist Rip-off” with Harrison Ford in a supporting role.
- While there is a lack of blood and sexuality on television Exorcist Imitations like The possessed This was made up for by professionalism and a competent and informed action.
- The film centers on a Catholic women’s college about to become coed, where mysterious fires and a supernatural force spark the search for the possessed person.
We’ve made it to another spooky season. This coming October will bring a lot of new horror films, but that’s never enough. We’ll also be shaking up all the old bones of past horror films. Today we’re digging The possessedwhich belongs to the “1970s” category Exorcist Rip-off.” It was made for television and originally aired on NBC in 1977, just weeks before one of its supporting cast became one of the biggest movie stars of all time. That’s right, The possessed characteristics Harrison Ford as sleazy high school chemistry teacher Mr. Winjam before the world knew him as Han Solo.
“The Possessed” is an “Exorcist” clone made specifically for television
The 1970s were part of it William Friedkin‘S The Exorcist, an exercise in frightening people that was beyond anything seen before and from which there was no turning back. This is especially true when you consider Brian De Palmas Carrie — adapted from Stephen Kings Novel about a child which in its own way also becomes possessed – being a branch of it Exorcist Tree. The cinema was full of imitations that were bluntly named exorcism, a particular favorite. Even more were created, especially for television Satan’s School for Girls And The magic. What the Grindhouse TV Exorcist knock-offs lost in blood and lurid sexuality, they sometimes made up for in professionalism. The possessed is a particularly competent and grounded film, perhaps a little heavy-handed. The basis for this is the up-and-coming cast, which includes not just one future Oscar nominee, Ford, but three.
The film takes place at a Catholic women’s college that is about to graduate before becoming a student. This change weighs heavily on the headmistress, Ms. Gelson (Joan Hackett), who feels like she has failed. She is cheered up by her sister Ellen (Claudette Nevins), a widow who teaches at the school. Most of the students are intimidated by Ms. Gelson, including the mysterious “Weezie” (Ann Dusenberry), who is Ellen’s daughter. As graduation approaches, the students and faculty find themselves threatened by a mysterious series of increasingly dangerous fires, each with no apparent cause.
Ellen, who was the only witness to one of the fires, is convinced that they have a supernatural cause. As the investigating police officer (Eugene Roche) fires her, she asks her psychiatrist for help and he recommends “a man who could be what you are looking for” named Kevin Leahy (James Farentino). The possessed never use it directly ex-word, but Leahy is a former Catholic priest. We see him during a prologue administering the sacrament and drinking heavily at the same time. After being in a seemingly fatal car accident, he has a vision of the afterlife, where he is told that he has lost his faith and must return to Earth to seek redemption: “You must seek evil and fight it .” evil, by whatever means possible. Leahy is at least an exorcist.
Who does Harrison Ford play in The Possessed?
One day, Leahy appears on campus and tells Ellen that he knows she was looking for him. (She assumes that her psychiatrist found him and sent him to her as promised, but later discovers that Leahy simply “knew” she would show up.) Leahy says that an evil may be occupying the school. If so, it will have occupied a person. So the rest of the film becomes a mystery, trying to figure out who this person is.
It is around this time that Harrison Ford’s character takes center stage. We meet Mr. Winjam in chemistry class, where there are certainly traces of the classroom version of Dr. Indiana Jones can be recognized, although his large thematic classroom scene is also reminiscent of Walter White’s lecture “Chemistry is the study of change”. We later learn that he once had a relationship with the school principal, Ms. Gelson. Furthermore, it turns out that he had an affair with Weezy, Ms. Gelson’s niece and also his student. Finally, Winjam goes up in flames, the film’s first and only victim. And that’s the last we see of Harrison Ford.
The role is far from Ford’s first film appearance. He had already worked with Francis Ford Coppola At The conversation and George Lucas onwards American graffiti, and made dozens of television appearances. But Harrison Ford’s boastful yet vulnerable personality had not yet been developed. Decades later, he played a similarly villainous character What lies beneath, but in this film he plays against audience expectations. There are no expectations here and Ford has room to experiment. He takes a lot of chances. His performance is influenced by some of the more emotionally raw actors of the ’70s, particularly reminiscent of (although your background may vary). Dustin Hoffman And Robert Blake. It’s harrowing, but fun to watch.
At 70 minutes, The Possessed is an easy film to watch
In most cases, Ford is not represented The possessedbut the whole thing is barely more than an hour long (it was 90 minutes with commercials), so it’s definitely worth watching for him. (It’s on YouTube.) In fact, there’s a pretty good cast surrounding Ford. Joan Hackett is complex and poignant as Mrs. Gelson. Hackett was married to the playwright Neal Simonand a few years later was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress Only when I laughwhich was based on one of his plays. Diana Scarwidwho would be nominated for an Oscar for her work Joan Crawford daughter in dearest mothergives a lively performance as the class valedictorian.
The film itself feels natural, even if it lacks excitement and feels underpopulated. It makes you realize the difference Exorcist imitations and Carrie Counterfeits. Both subgenres are about possessions. But The Exorcist’s Regan is possessed by a demon who is controlled by an evil force. Carrie is obsessed with herself and gives in to her deepest desires. The possessed believes it is the first type of film. When Leahy first meets Ellen, he tells her that evil is a force that appears for no reason and makes no sense. However, when we find out which character is possessed, it makes perfect sense, even if we see them in full vomiting demon face. Each of the flame attacks is tailored to that character’s psychological needs. Of course you can tell a scary story with both structures, but it was the confrontation with pure evil within The Exorcist That really left scars. That does not exist here.