When Linda Blair's acting career hit the bottom of the barrel, there was only one way out - Repossessed, a parody-sequel of The Exorcist starring Leslie Nielson and Ned Beatty produced in 1990 by Studio Canal, who really should have known better.
The movie revolves around Nancy Agley (Linda Blair), a buxom housewife with a husband named Braydon (Thom Sharp) and a pair of kids. What most people don't know about Nancy is that she was given an exorcism in her pre-teen years after a nasty bout of demonic possession brought her to the attention of a brave priest named Father Jebedaiah Mayii (Get it? Father Mayii? Say it out loud if you can't figure it out). The exorcism was successful but we all know that the devil won't take no for an answer and now, decades after Nancy thought she'd left all of this behind her, she's spewing pea soup all over her family.
Nancy requests the help of a young priest named Father Luke Brophy (Anthony Starke), who is understandably skeptical of Nancy's story until she shows him her official certificate of exorcism and see's her problems manifest. Unfortunately, Luke is in the middle of a faith crisis and is starting to doubt his belief in God. To take care of the problem, Luke goes straight to Father Mayii himself, who is now an old man with a heart condition. Mayii resists, but eventually realizes that he's going to have to take care of this problem once and for all when he finds out that a pair of televangelists, Ernest (Ned Beatty) and Fanny Ray Weller (Lana Schwab), have bought the television rights to the exorcism that Luke has set up.
Full of plenty of self aware and horrible puns, occasional scenes of gratuitous nudity and more bad sight gags than you can shake a bottle of holy water at, Repossessed is, in short, a ridiculous film. That said, ridiculous is exactly what its going for and there's something to be said for a film so unabashedly horrible that it almost transcends the very meaning of the word and becomes something else entirely. Fans of The Exorcist will obviously get far more out of the movie than others will as the whole set up is essentially a follow up to that movie even if the names have been change to protect the not-so-innocent. If you thought The Naked Gun or Scary Movies were corny, well, you were right but they don't hold a candle to this one.
Performance wise, Leslie Nielson more or less plays the same sort of character you expect him to play at this point in his career. With a few winking nods to the camera to make sure know he knows we're watching him, Nielson does what he does best and that's deliver a remarkably dead pan performance without ever breaking character regardless of how preposterous the situation might be. Blair struggles with the softer, more innocent Nancy but does just fine when it comes time to puke up soup and growl at the priests while Anthony Starke is more or less completely forgettable. Ned Beatty stands out as the Jim Baker inspired televangelist who lacks the patience to deal with his flamboyant Tammy Fay-esque wife's penchant for small animals and bawdy dresses, and together they manage to steal every scene they're in.
Wrap it all up in a gloriously bad soundtrack and throw in a woman with gigantic expanding breasts, a Barbara Walters joke or two, and a few pointed jabs at the Catholic establishment and you've got a movie that, as completely undeniably awful as it may be, is entirely entertaining.
Just like it was with the recent release of Slaughter High, so to is it with Repossessed - this DVD has been mastered from a tape. That said, it's been mastered from a very good tape, so the fullframe (and unfortunately interlaced) transfer is perfectly watchable, but those expecting a nicely remastered and ultra crisp picture will be left wanting. Detail is pretty soft and there's occasional color fading evident here and there but there aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts nor are there any edge enhancement issues to note. This transfer, however, even if it is watchable, leaves plenty of room for improvement to be sure, and really, should we be mastering DVDs from tapes in this day and age?
The English language audio is supplied in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, though this doesn't really sound like a surround track to be honest. There's very little activity in the rear channels, the subwoofer isn't given much to do and almost all of the activity comes from the front of the mix. Levels periodically fluctuate, and the menu and trailer are noticeably louder than the feature itself for some reason. That said, dialogue, though periodically muffled, is usually easy enough to understand and the opening theme song and closing track sound decent enough. Optional subtitles are provided in English and Spanish.
The packaging advertises a 'trivia track' which, in this case, is a third subtitle option that can be turned on or off through the menu screen or through the remote control's subtitle button. When enabled, this track will point out the obvious for you and periodically throw basic trivia relating to the film out at you. The track talks about what Oscar winners worked on this movie, and spends more time discussing The Exorcist than it does Repossessed. On top of that, the information comes sporadically at best, meaning there are long stretches where nothing happens.
Aside from that, look for the film's original trailer, trailers for a few other Lionsgate horror releases, menus, and chapter selection.
Exorcist nuts, Leslie Nielsen devotees and Linda Blair completists will get a kick out of Repossessed even if it's groan inducing in its awfulness and even if Lionsgate have done a very mediocre job with the DVD. Audio and video quality leave plenty of room for improvement and the extras are lame. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.