Nielsen Ratings: Repossessed (1990) Review
While his role as Doctor Rumack in “Airplane!” proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Nielsen could do comedy, it wasn’t until “The Naked Gun: From The Files Of Police Squad” that he showed that he could headline a comedy movie too. Quick to capitalise on the success of Frank Drebin’s big-screen debut was “Repossessed”, a gleeful spoof of “The Exorcist”.
In 1973, Father Jebediah Mayii (Leslie Nielsen) cast the devil out of the body of young Nancy (Linda Blair), leaving him a broken man. Years later a now-married Nancy’s body is possessed once again. Seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck, Ernest and Fanny Ray Weller, a couple of crooked televangelists convince the Catholic Church to stage a live Exorcism Telethon. It’s up to young, idealistic priest Father Luke Brophy (Anthony Starke) to convince Mayii to come out of retirement and face the devil once more.
“Repossessed” demonstrates just how skilled the team of Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker (and Pat Proft) really were because it’s nowhere near as polished and consistent as the likes of “Airplane!” or “The Naked Gun”. That being said, it’s still cruelly underrated and, taken on its own terms, writer/ director Bob Logan’s movie is still a lot of silly fun. Nielsen’s on top form as the weary priest forced out of retirement and makes the most out of the scattergun and sophomoric material on hand. Another strength of the movie is the presence of Linda Blair – clearly having an absolute blast mocking her most famous role and no doubt exorcising some acting demons of her own.
It does a good job of skewering the key moments from “The Exorcist” but it’s main satiricial target is the avarice and artifice of the Televangelists who ransacked American pockets throughout the eighties. Ned Beatty is superb as the ambitious Ernest while Lana Schwab has great fun as the naively oblivious and self-absorbed Fanny Ray.
Puns, sight-gags and pop culture references abound plus there are a couple of decent musical numbers in there and while it may not reach the height of some of the genre’s classics, this is one horror-comedy which richly deserves to be reappraised as it celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.
Nielsen Rating 7/10