Before The Exorcist, there was The Possession of Joel Delaney. Shirley MacLaine stars as Norah Benson, a New Yorker who puzzles over sudden changes in her brother's behavior. Joel (Perry King at his most frightening) has b... more »egun speaking Spanish and practicing strange rituals. In order to protect her family and save her brother, Norah must delve deep into the mysterious world of Santeria, where she begins to suspect that the spirit of a serial killer may be the reason for Joel's behavior. Fraught with occult tension throughout, The Possession of Joel Delaney is a masterful thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat until the unspeakable conclusion.« less
"As a fan of horror, I figured I would give this movie a viewing. As you guessed it, the movie concerns possession, but also goes into the 70s culture and seems to pass judgment on the rich. How's that for a horror film?Shirley MacLaine plays a New York socialite who raises her two children and looks after her brother. Both come from a rich background. Her brother, Joel Delaney, tries to attack his landlord and is taken away raving like a madman. MacLaine, not understanding, proceeds to the psychiatric hospital and starts throwing her ex-husband's name around. After pulling some strings, the brother is released. The rest of the movie brings the gruesome murders for which her brother is now a suspect. He also begins speaking dreadful things in Spanish, but no one remembers him learning fluent Spanish.The movie is set in the 70s, and the movie tries to show the collision between the Puerto Rican culture and the rich socialite culture. The possession happens when a strong-minded personality takes control of the weak-minded. The movie seems to say that the rich, who did not make the money themselves, are not strong-minded because everything has been given to them. The other issue is that Western science cannot understand something like this. We need the help of a culture older than ours.Shirley MacLaine is infuriating and frustrating. My first reaction was that I couldn't watch this movie because her character grated on my nerves. After reflecting, I realized that that is exactly what she was trying to do with her role. I have to tip my hat to her performance.Although not a horror classic like Rosemary's Baby or The Exorcist, this is an interesting movie. I would recommend it for horror fans."
A red rose in Spanish Harlem
tmp | Solar System, MA USA | 06/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Predating "The Exorcist", "Joel Delaney" is the story of wealthy, grating Manhattan socialite Norah Benson (Shirley MacLaine), whose relationship with her brither Joel Delaney (Perry King) is a mite too close. When not busy treating her maid like the furniture and attending the sort of party where someone exclaims that her butler was simply appalled she had taken the bus, Norah start to notice that Joel is acting strangely. Soon after, heads start to roll.
MacLaine is brilliant in this, forcing the audience to care for what is in essence a very unlikeable heroine: Norah is an inveterate snob, an egomaniac (she seems to think that everyone from her ex-husband to her ex-maid should drop everything to come to her aid immediately) and has a relationship with her brother that borders on incestuous. Shirley still draws you in, showing the basic goodness and humanity in Norah. A very young Perry King is also very good here, flitting from sweetness to madness in a blink.
Almost more of a paen to mid-seventies urban paranoia than a straight thriller, "PoJD" makes good use of New York of the era. Never before or since has the city looked more threatening, from the tony Upper East Side to the East Village and Spanish Harlem, this New York fairly drips with menace. This is the Anti- "Manhattan""
AN UNUSUAL HORROR TALE.....
Mark Norvell | HOUSTON | 04/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shirley MacLaine plays Nora, an aloof, privileged, divorced mother of two living in Manhattan. She's kept herself emotionally and socially distant from people and things she considers beneath her status. But when her beloved younger brother Joel (Perry King) begins having a severe and frightening personality change after moving into an apartment previously inhabited by a now deceased young serial killer, she's forced to confront realities she's hardly prepared to deal with. Then murders similar to the serial killer's occur. Racial undertones (the killer was Puerto Rican) and the occult blend somewhat uneasily in the film, but this is balanced by the truly creepy atmosphere, the acting and some disturbing sequences that made my skin crawl. The final sequence at the beach house is shocking. This is a horror film that is not for all tastes. For instance, there's a hint or two that Nora's feelings for Joel may go beyond just brother & sister. Also Nora's character is not your usual horror film heroine. She isn't very sympathetic. She's spoiled, indifferent and used to getting her way. So it's no surprise to find she's way in over her head right off the bat. MacLaine and King are good and make the often questionable material engrossing to watch. All in all, an interesting adult horror film from 1972 with potent social and supernatural themes. Definitely worth a look."
Bomojaz | South Central PA, USA | 05/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Shirley MacLaine in one of her scariest (and compelling) roles. She's a Manhattan socialite and single mom living with her two kids. Her brother (played by Perry King) moves into an apartment once rented by a Puerto Rican teen murderer, and suddenly he begins acting as if possessed by the dead murderer. Things become unbearable for MacLaine as she tries to protect her kids (and herself) while trying to figure out what's going on with King. It's made even scarier because MacLaine has lived a sheltered, pampered life - up to then. The ending takes place in a deserted beach house, and it's one not to be forgotten soon after seeing it. Lots of people object to the gross-out final scenes (myself included), but the build-up to them is done grippingly and with a great deal of suspense. A fine thriller, and it's surprising to see it's not on DVD yet."
Who does not like Shirley M. Films?
Mark | NYC | 01/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Shirley is great to watch in this dated but fun to watch movie, She's great! I love films from this era and it's a different world so that also makes it fun to watch."