Artisan // 1990 // 89 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // October 15th, 2003
The devil's back! But he's never dealt with an exorcist like this!
When Nancy Aglet was an over-advantaged urchin, the Devil (or a close facsimile thereof) possessed her body and her spirit (or a close facsimile thereof). She was finally released from Satan's psyche ward by Father Jebedaiah Mayii, who parlayed his paranormal TKO tendencies into speaking gigs at junior colleges nationwide (or a close facsimile thereof). All seems vestments and vestibules for Nan until she gets married with children and starts exhibiting renewed symptoms of PMS (Pre Mephistopheles Syndrome). She projectile vomits all over her flummoxed kinfolk and begins eyeing the crucifix with bad intent. When she finally flips over to the darkside and channels gravely voiced barmaids (or a close facsimile thereof), the call goes out for a preacher who will drive Beelzebub and his bilious body odors away. Local Lord lunk Father Luke Brophy is too wishy-washy to handle the haunting, and his secretive Catholic sect thinks that the best response to this crisis of confidence is to call in the evangelical idiots Ernest and Fanny Raye Weller. They want to hold a real live exorcism (or a close facsimile thereof) on live TV -- kind of like Will and Grace, but without all the blatant heterosexuality. Little do they know that a captive audience of boob tube rubes is just what Old Scratch wants. Will Jesus' jump squad find a way to get Belial behind them? Or is poor Nancy Aglet destined to be morally destitute and spiritually Repossessed?
Repossessed is a very brave movie. It has the big brass bullions to think that Oliver North jokes, quips about Manuel "The Little Pineapple" Noriega, and parodies of Body by Jake are timeless and universally hilarious. It dares offer stinging satire of such current, modern targets as The PTL Club, Wally George, and Morton Downey Jr. It's a film that pulls out all the stops, using musical montages, rap interludes, sight gags, and gratuitous Ned Beatty to stir up sure-fire hilarity. And if that wasn't enough, it exploits that age-old standby, William Friedkin's 1973 puke-a-thon The Exorcist, as the foundation for all its tomfoolery. So you'll be laughing all the way to the liquor store with this one, right? Pop this DVD into the disc drive and you'll be doubled over in delirium as you experience razor-sharp MTV video send-ups and Ayatollah Khomeini impersonations, huh? Sorry to say it, but a fatwa would be more fun that this gangrenous green pea soup. So dated it's like Madonna on a Saturday night (and how's that for an up-to-date put down?), this non-stop barrage of bad puns, useless pop culture references, and misfired humor is about as funny as a lower GI series. Honestly, anyone who thought that a Naked Gun / Airplane! style shortchanging of what is probably one of the greatest horror films of all time would guarantee a good time and a gaggle of guffaws was probably overcome by the spirit of Eddie Deezen's inflated prostate. Why else would they decide to unleash this lethal load of lethargic loogies on an unsuspecting public? Monkeys making mudpies in their training pants would be more enjoyable and intellectually stimulating. Sure, there is nothing wrong with a completely stupid comedy, a film that simply hurls lowbrow yucks at you non-stop and hopes that it hits its target more times than not. But when the cleverest gag in the entire film is its title, there really is no hope.
Repossessed suffers from a lot of bad ideas being crammed together into one unstable mass, like Polonium or Roseanne Barr. It figures that the ZAZ formula is foolproof and then proceeds to exemplify time and again why it is not. Simply adding Leslie Nielsen to your motion picture doesn't assure a Frank Drebin or Dr. Rumack style performance. Indeed, Nielsen has forgotten the first law of farce and plays every scene in Repossessed with a knowing wink and mugging set of facial features, as if to telegraph to the audience that he, too, is in on the joke. Nothing destroys a lampoon faster than someone unwilling to take it seriously. At least Linda Blair "gets" it, sort of. She takes demonic glee in channeling the psychotic spirit of Mercedes McCambridge and delivers her devil lines with guttural gusto and apropos tone. The rest of the cast is nothing more than the acting equivalent of dormant props, human placeholders. Heck, even the usually reliable Beatty is as buffoonish as a river-rafting trip through Dollywood. Some of the stunt cameos are interesting (it's a hoot to see Jesse "The Body Politic" Venture pre-State House), yet the vast majority of the cinematic decisions in the making of Repossessed are forced and unfocused. Blame is laid squarely at the illogical lapels of Bob Logan, the auteur behind such monuments to celluloid as Up Your Alley (a romantic comedy starring Murray "The Unknown Comic" Langston) and Meatballs 4 (featuring a pre-Prozac Corey Feldman in full Michael Jackson mimicking mode). Logan is from the sledgehammer school of comic subtlety. No reason to be intelligent or witty when you can ball peen hammer people into laughing. Repossessed is such an Ace hardware hack job, unfunny and personally painful once struck by it.
Just when you thought Artisan couldn't stoop any lower, when their open framed fiascos filled with grainy, grotesque transfers and limited bonus features marked the bottom feeder fringe of digital entertainment, along comes their new fangled no budget DVHSD brand of fraud in the inducement and the bar sinks ever further into the primordial ooze. Words cannot begin to describe how disheartening these unadorned video violations are...but since this is a written review, this critic will press on. To call them bare bones gives skeletons worldwide a defaming from which they can never recover. What you get for your shekel is a real piece of piping hot goat gunk, a full screen half-assed print filled with age and print defects, a barely audible Dolby Digital Stereo scam for an aural presentation, and absolutely 100% no bonus features or extras. Not a trailer or a cast and crew filmography, the unqualified minimum for even the most mediocre of misbegotten titles. But no, Art's sanity is definitely in question when you consider that they actually think people will buy a DVD when it's presented in such an appalling fashion. Even a movie as banefully bad as Repossessed deserves something more than a close and play glorified videotape take.
If there's a Heaven, God must be smiling, safe in the knowledge that films which knock him and his kid (Last Temptation of Christ) get those full blown Criterion credentials while the Fallen Angel is left with and in the digital dregs. And as for Legion himself? He must be sitting in Hell sharpening his cloven hooves, just waiting for the day when members of Artisan's marketing department show up wondering where their brimstone cabana will be. No amount of repenting will save them from the eternity of pain they'll experience. Repossessed is re-tarded.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1990
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13