Mar 1, 2018

Possessed by the Night (1994)



Tagline: "Control. Once you lose it, you'll kill to get it back."

The cover art makes it look like it's going to be another run-of-the-mill erotic thrillers.  There's no indication that the plot revolves around a pickled side-show freak in a jar.  Yeah - you read that right.



Author Howard Hansen (Ted Prior) has writer's block.  His deadline is fast approaching, but he can't come up with a word.  (Maybe unwrapping your computer might help.  Just a thought.)

Ted's supportive and loving wife, Peggy, is played by Sandahl Bergman

You may remember her from Conan the Barbarian, but she was in a lot of other good stuff: Red Sonja, Airplane II, Xanadu, Hell Comes to Frogtown, etc. 

Searching for inspiration, Howard goes to Chinatown and buys this creepy bottle of god-knows-what from Wong's Odd Emporium.  He's told it is from an old carnival sideshow.

What could go wrong?

There's a side story involving a hit man named Gus (Chad McQueen - son of Steve) who's tired of the life of crime and wants to get out of the business.

The big boss, Scott (the great Henry Silva), won't hear a word of this silly talk.  There's no getting out of the business.

The girl on the right, Trina, is played by Melissa Brasselle who got a taste of the limelight years later in the VH1 reality show "I Know My Kids a Star." 

Meanwhile, the pickled-freak-in-a-jar is causing problems.  It's making Howard act erratically, and Peggy swears she saw it laying next to her in bed.

Howard and Gus's lives intersect via the writer's agent, Murray (played by Frank Sivero, who played
Genco Abbandando in The Godfather Part II and Frankie Carbone in Goodfellas.)

This guy Murray looks like a cartoon character.  Like a Dick Tracy villain.
Murray owes Scott a lot of money, and Gus is here to collect.  Murray swears he'll have the money soon - just as soon as Howard finishes that damn novel!  (Evidently, Murray is skimming a lot of money off the top of Howard's book sales.)

Murray brings a guest over to Howard's place - Carol McKay (Shannon Tweed).  In order to expedite the writing process, he wants Carol to stay at his place to act as secretary.

Having Shannon Tweed stay at a married man's house....What could go wrong?

Howard catches sight of Carol working out with the Bowflex...

...and wiping her sweat with her shirt.  Howard nearly blows his load on the spot.  He goes outside to cool down and write, but it's no good - he can't concentrate with this chick in the house.  (Did Murray really think bringing this lady into his home would speed up his writing?)

Howard and Carol, both under the spell of the pickled-freak-in-a-jar lose all sense of self-control and start screwing wildly.

Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty hilarious sex scene. Don't get me wrong - Shannon Tweed's boobs are no laughing matter.  What's funny is that, under the influence of the freak in the jar, the two are violent with each other, strangling, and smacking the shit out of one another.

Seeing these two screw, while simultaneously slapping the hell out of one another, is just stupid insane.  It has to be seen to be believed.

Shit spirals out of control when Carol holds Howard at gunpoint, and forces Peggy to strip.  Then she makes the two have sex while she watches and masturbates with the gun.

This could have been a hall-of-fame moment of sleazy exploitation; instead, it's all just kind of awkward.

The climax is like a badly executed Tarantino film, where pretty much everyone kills each other.  Murray comes over to grab the manuscript for his own selfish gain, but Carol holds him at gunpoint.  When Gus arrives to collect his money from Murray, Carol shoots at him.  It ends with Murray, Gus, and Carol all dying.

Peggy throws the sideshow freak in a jar into the fireplace, and things are restored to normal.  THE END.

Possessed by the Night doesn't deserve to be lumped in with the dime-a-dozen straight to cable erotic thrillers.  The bizarre freak-in-a-jar adds an element to the film, strange and unique enough to make it worth a watch.  Plus, we get Shannon Tweed and Sandahl Bergman's boobs - so that's four more reasons to watch.

★★★

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