DVD Review: Classic Horror THE POSSESSION Of JOEL DELANEY

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This 1972 chiller directed by Waris Hussein is a supernatural tale that appears to be in the same mould as The Exorcist; however it was released over a year before William Friedkin’s classic.

The Possession of Joel Delaney stars Shirley Maclaine as Nora Benson, a rich divorcee who has a close relationship with her brother Joel (played by Perry King, in his first screen role). However, following a series of bizarre events Nora believes that something is wrong with Joel, something that can’t be solved by an aspirin and a good night’s sleep.

Again, as always seems to happen, I hadn’t heard of this film. It makes me wonder what sort of film education I’ve had, but hey- I’m being honest, I could lie and say that I’ve known about this film since the dawn of time. Anyway, enough of my crazy ramblings and on with the review. What was really cool about the opening of this DVD was that they had the original X certification at the head of the film, a nice touch. The Possession of Joel Delaney is a slow burning film; that has a distinctive 1970s feel; which is something that I really enjoy. The best way to describe this film is bizarre.

Although it begins in a similar vein to The Exorcist, it takes a turn during the mid point, where it delves into Santeria (an Afro-Caribbean cult) and possession of the dead.It’s a shocking film, especially the ending, an ending that some people may find offensive and very uncomfortable viewing. I don’t want to give away too much, but this type of film would never be made today. Never.

The Possession of Joel Delaney is a flawed film, but one that is worth watching. It’s got an interesting premise, one that although similar to many films, has an interesting angle (we tend to see possession films with children, rather than men in their twenties). In the last third, the film takes the viewer to a place that few films take you, especially now in the 21st Century.

Although not a flawless film The Possession of Joel Delaney is a recommended piece of viewing. It may begin in a similar vein to The Exorcist or The Omen, but this is a far more disturbing piece of cinema, that has more in common with The Wicker Man, with it’s shocking and horrific ending that will have you pondering the film long after you’ve taken the disc out of the player.

Special Features

There is a very good feature length commentary with horror experts Kim Newman (of Empire Magazine fame) and Steve Jones. There’s an introductory booklet by Jones, however I can’t comment, as it was not available with my review copy. Also included on the disc; an image gallery and a trailer.

possession-of-joel-delaney