Uncovering Curiosities: Waris Hussein’s THE POSSESSION Of JOEL DELANEY

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.

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 Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man (released in 1973) with it’s shocking and horrific ending that will have you pondering the film long after the credits roll.