I love cheesy B movies. I always have and I always will. It’s because of this that I love the movies of The Asylum, their filmmakers are the new Roger Cormans. In this series, I will take a look at all of their so-called “mockbusters”, and compare them to their theatrical counterparts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers
Exorcism: The Possession of Gail Bowers is a bit weird among The Asylum’s productions, in that it came out about four months after The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the movie it was obviously trying to capitalize on. What’s also weird about it, is that writer-director Leigh Scott managed to make a surprisingly pretty good movie. Yeah, Gail Bowers is a fairly paint by numbers Exorcist clone, but it’s not a bad one. I’ve seen far worse attempts.
The movie starts with a priest played by Thomas Downey (who if you’re following along at home you’ll recognize from King of the Lost World and War of the Worlds) failing miserably at an exorcism and getting his eyes clawed the fuck out in the process. It’s actually kind of awesome. After this little prologue, we then start to follow the title character Gail (played by Erica Roby, who will turn up a lot more in this series). You see Gail’s parents just died and she has to move in with her sister and brother-in-law. Her sister is a bit of a Jesus freak and insists on putting a crucifix up in Gail’s new room. They give Gail a car as a bribe to get her to go to the local Catholic school, allowing her to make fast friends with the very white trash girl next-door, Francie (Rebekah Kochan, who you will also see in many upcoming Asylum films). Now that the cast and set up have been handled the possession can begin.
Things are already a little weird, what with crucifixes falling off the wall, but then Francie has to bring over some booze and a Ouija board. When it gets spookier than planned Francie takes off and heads home, leading to one of the unsexiest nude scene in all of film (and that might include the hot tub scene in About Schmidt). Gail starts acting unusual – sexually propositioning her brother-in-law, sexually intimidating her sister and then physically attacking her. There are some kind of cool skin crawl-y effects as the possession really starts to take hold and of course she does the expected things: speaking in tongues, body contortions, that sort of thing. It’s all pretty effective though.
Eventually it gets to the point where they need help, so they call in a couple of doctors and a couple of priests, and none of these assholes can handle it. So who do they get to rescue poor Gail? Who is their master fucking exorcist? The eyeless failure from the beginning of the movie! He gets called in to save the day, doesn’t do a very good job of it, a whole bunch of people die, but the demon is eventually driven out. So I guess it’s a win?
Despite being – like I said before – a pretty standard Exorcist riff, Possession of Gail Bowers really isn’t that bad. It was certainly worth the my time. Would it have been a theatrical hit? I really don’t know. Worse horror movies have been shat into the theatres to make a quick opening weekend buck. Hell, check your local listings right now.
(Maybe not work-safe, half-second of nipple)
Some fun facts about the movie:
Apparently there’s some kind of shared Asylum Universe, with this being the third appearance of Blackthorn Industries. The corporation has also shown up in King of the Lost World and non-mockbuster Dead Men Walking. I’ll keep you posted on any further connections.
The actor playing Gail’s brother-in-law, Clark, might be my new favorite actor ever for the simple reason of his myriad stage names. The son of Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto on Babylon 5, Animal House‘s Flounder), Griff Furst has decided to act variously under the names Griffith Feuerstein, Griff Feuerstein, G.E. Furst, Louie Myman, Louis Myman and my personal favorite, the one he used here, Brick Firestone. Seriously, Brick fucking Firestone! That’s amazing. Going by a name like that, I love the balls on this guy.
How does it compare?
When put next to Exorcism of Emily Rose, it’s kind of hard to compare because the two films take such different tacks. The places where they can be compared would be the possession effects. Emily Rose certainly has more and more expensive effects than Gail Bowers, but then it cost $20 million. Do you have any idea how many times the budget of Gail Bowers that must be? For what it cost Gail Bowers looks fantastic, even in comparison.
Next week: When a Killer Calls