‘When the forces of evil infuse your body will you scream out…’
Help Me… I’m Possessed is a 1974 American horror feature film directed by Belgian-born director Charles Nitzet (Voodoo Heartbeat, The Ravager). The movie stars co-writer Bill Greer, in his only acting role, other co-writer Deedy Peters, and Lynne Marta.
The film remained in the cinematic wilderness for many years, having only a limited theatrical run in 1976. In 1984, it was released on VHS by Video Gems as The Possessed. The movie features an electronic synth score by an uncredited composed.
In the American desert, a young couple has been brutally murdered and the local sheriff immediately suspects fishy goings-on at the castle-like sanitarium run by reclusive Doctor Arthur Blackwood (Bill Greer).
Assuring the sheriff that his work there is entirely above board and consists of little more than helping disturbed individuals return to society, he does little to allay the police’s fears, not least when his loopy doll-hugging singing sister appears.
Indeed, we soon learn that the doctor is perhaps not entirely qualified, housing a collection of chained up, scantily clad ladies, a Catweazle-alike prisoner and a hunchback in his basement, all at the mercy of his insane experiments, designed to rid them of madness.
When not being whipped and brutalised, these ‘volunteers’ suffer an even worse fate if they don’t behave or illicit positive results, being killed by snake, guillotine and being hacked up to fit the wrongly-sized coffins.
The arrival of the doctor’s new wife (Peters) sees his plans begin to unravel as disappearing members of staff and her cranky husband arouse her suspicion. Worse still, when she uncovers his experiments she learns that the harnessed ‘evil’ extracted from the patients has manifest itself as something malevolent and hideous…
Written by both Peters and Greer (somewhat remarkably considering her later life as the girlfriend of David Soul and his as writer and producer of TV shambles Charles in Charge), Help Me… I’m Possessed! feels like an amalgam of Al Adamson‘s films, slightly restrained H.G. Lewis fare and lunatic imprisonment films like Blood Sucking Freaks.
The acting standards are all of the same unremarkable quality but are engaging and fun, particularly Greer who looks completely ill-fitting in the role, and all the better for it. Though the torture and bloodletting are tame in comparison to Lewis’ films, they are still brutal and heartless enough to raise a serious question mark over the film’s initial PG rating!
The title is somewhat misleading (it was filmed with the more apt working title Nightmare at Blood Castle, there’s no possession in the film as such, only the mysterious evil presence which is represented by Lovecraftian red tentacle-like appendages wafting at the camera.
Coming to a conclusion just before it starts to go around in circles once too often, perhaps the most arresting aspect of the film is the avant-garde electronic score, completely unnerving and genuinely excellent though the film does not name any composer, only an Al Bart in the sound department, who evidently did not go on to better things.
Grimy and fun, Help Me… I’m Possessed! was released on DVD by Code Red on a double-bill with Blind Dead director Amando de Ossorio’s Demon Witch Child, the connection being that they were both known as The Possessed in various releases.
Daz Lawrence, MOVIES & MANIA
“As seedy as it all is, Help Me…I’m Possessed is so unrelentingly unusual that it never gets dull, and every five or ten minutes some new absurdity takes this wildly colorful spook show into a deeper, weirder place. Those in search of unique cinematic experiences should keep an eye out for this worthy obscurity…” All Movie
“Random shots disappear and float into the subconscious as the monster growls (From an elephant? An orangutang?) burst into the soundtrack for no apparent reason. Plus, mean-spirited torture becomes instantly hilarious when the torturer can’t keep his wig on. The cheapness permeates and the lunacy prevails.” Bleeding Skull!
” …feels more like a throwback to ’60s schlock films (especially basement mad scientist epics like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die) thanks to hoary scenes like a man stuck in a guillotine poised to drop after a candle burns through the rope holding up the blade, and the paint-like blood gets sloshed around without any blades actually cutting anyone in graphic detail. There are also lots of women in their undies acting terrified, of course…” Mondo Digital
“The low budget craftsmanship (or lack thereof) is endearing. The dated costumes, groovy music, stilted acting, and awful wigs are guaranteed to put a smile on any bad movie lovers’ faces. The surprise is, the monster effects are startlingly effective.The writhing tentacles are similar in many ways to Rob Bottin’s effects in John Carpenter’s The Thing, even if they do resemble sentient Red Vines.” The Video Vacuum
Dr Blackwood: “Dead? There is no such thing. Death is a fabrication of the mind.”
Sheriff Taylor: “I’ve seen a lot of dead bodies, doctor. Mutilated bodies. Accident victims. I’ve never seen anything like this. Never!”
Dr Blackwood: “When I saw Mr Zolak’s head severed from his body, I felt a definite sexual thrill. I must be very careful.”
Cast and characters:
- Bill Greer … Doctor Arthur Blackwood
- Deedy Peters … Mrs Diane Blackwood
- Lynne Marta … Melanie Blackwood – The First Power; Blood Beach
- Jim Dean … Sheriff Taylor
- Tony Reese … Ernest, the Chauffeur
- Blackie Hunt … Eleanor, the Nurse
- Dorothy Green … Edith – The Castle Dweller – The Munsters TV series
- Barbara Thorsen … Redhead Patient
- Pepper Davis … Deputy Sheriff
- Pierre Agostino … Hunchback – Slashed… short; Witchcraft; Las Vegas Serial Killer; The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher
Bronson Canyon, Los Angeles, California