Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Other Exorcist

It’s not that hard to believe that The Exorcist had many rip-offs. In fact, many people say that The Manitou is a rip-off, but how many times can you say that you saw an Exorcist rip-off that involved dolls? I know that I can. However, it isn’t a direct rip-off because it’s the doll that is possessed and through the doll it possesses the young girl. But why do I believe that this is knock-off to the 70s classic? I guess it’s because of how things are played out but before I get into all of that, I must discuss what exactly possesses everybody. What type of demon has been awoken that is attracted to dolls, and you’ll notice that even the demons back-story sounds vaguely similar to that of Pazuzu from The Exorcist.

The devil in this movie is called the Sanzia Devil and much like Pazuzu this devil originated from an old ancient myth. The Sanzia Devil was released from its enclosed tomb during an archeological dig in Mexico. The Mayan Cult known as the Sanzia (which means Satan on Earth) worshipped this demon. This cult would feed warm blood of slaughtered children to this demon, much like how many people believe that in order to appease Satan they would need to engage in human virginal sacrifice. Though, when comparing the Sanzia Devil to Pazuzu it’s a little more difficult because Pazuzu isn’t Satan himself, even though the film assumes that he is. Pazuzu is actually the king of the demons of the wind. So neither Pazuzu nor the Sanzia Demon is Satan himself, but they could be alternatives. It’s also interesting to note that both movies start off in another country while an archeological dig is in progress.

It’s sort of funny that many people compare this movie to Child’s Play because of some similarities. For example, in both movies a parent gives the doll to their child. In Dolly Dearest the father gives the doll to his daughter, who always wanted one. However, in this film the doll begins to possess the mind of the little girl whereas Child’s Play the boy isn’t possessed but is aware the doll is alive. Now, if we compare it to The Exorcist, it’s more similar. Now, in The Exorcist Pazuzu is never shown directly, which means he is never seen as an actual tangible entity but rather as a spirit. Here, the Sanzia Devil uses the Dolly Dearest doll as a vessel so it takes the form as something. In both movies the demon takes control of a young, all-American girl, and the girl begins to display signs of psychotic possession.

While Regan seems to have a more gradual descent into possession, Jessica’s is more immediate but both Regan and Jessica act the same and I’ll even go as far to say that Jessica acts like Damien from The Omen as well. Like Regan, Jessica becomes emotionally erratic, mean, rude and seems to disassociate with her family. They both talk to spirits, thinking that they are real; The Exorcist has Captain Howdy and Dolly Dearest as, obviously, Dolly… but in both instances their parents think they are crazy. When Pazuzu assumed the body of Regan, he showed her mother that she is still alive by having her speak through his voice. In Dolly Dearest, it’s the opposite. Sanzia absorbs Jessica through the doll, so that the doll has the soul of Jessica. In addition to many shots that are similar to those of The Exorcist, there is a scene that is very reminiscent of The Omen. Jessica is taken back to her parent’s home, which is being blessed by priests and she throws a temper tantrum; screaming, scratching and generally flipping a shit. It’s very similar to the scene where Damien flips out when his parents try to take him to church.

I’m sure there are a lot of other times in the movie that are reminiscent of The Exorcist but these were the ones that stood out to me. Even though it seems like the movie ripped off The Exorcist, they tried to make it different and I’d say that they succeeded. Sure, it’s not nearly as good as the 70s film but for a straight-to-VHS movie, it had some great moments and great characters. It’s one of those indie movies that rolls all the classic possession movies into one and turns it down a little… and that’s just fine for me.

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