The Possession of Joel Delaney (1972)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Possession of Joel Delaney Photos

Movie Info

A wealthy woman becomes worried about her brother's increasingly violent, unbalanced behavior and sends him to a psychiatrist, who is equally puzzled. Ultimately, the sister discovers that her brother is the victim of a voodoo curse in this satirical horror film.
Classics , Drama , Horror
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Paramount Pictures


Shirley MacLaine
as Norah Benson
Perry King
as Joel
Michael Hordern
as Justin Lorenz
David Elliott
as Peter Benson
Lisa Kohane
as Carrie Benson
David James Elliott
as Peter Benson
Lovelady Powell
as Erika Lorenz
Teodorino Bello
as Mrs. Perez
Robert Burr
as Ted Benson
Miriam Colon
as Veronica, Maid
Ernesto Gonzalez
as Young Man at Seance
Aukie Herger
as Mr. Perez
Earle Hyman
as Charles
Marita Lindholm
as Marta Benson
Peter Turgeon
as Detective Brady
Paulita Iglesias
as Bruja at Seance
Stan Watt
as James
José Fernández
as Tonio Perez
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Possession of Joel Delaney

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (1)

Silly, Exorcist-type rip-off, unworthy of McLaine.

November 5, 2002
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Quote not available.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Quote not available.

March 19, 2004
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Audience Reviews for The Possession of Joel Delaney


Shirley MacLaine's brother finds himself possessed by the spirit of a dead serial killer and she throws herself into the idea of understanding Voodoo in an effort to save him. This can-do attitude falls by the wayside towards the end of the film and she ends up being more typical shrieking female, which is a disappointment. Worth a watch, but it won't be your new favorite film or anything.

Bill Bryant
Bill Bryant

It's like "The Exorcist" meets "The Serpent and the Rainbow". Not as good as those, but it's still very good. The Possession of Joel Delaney is an interestingly strange and different look on satanic possession. Many parts are quite eerie in places, while others are very disturbing, especially the sickening ending that involves a little boy. Strong performances, a solid script, along with a creepy story make this movie well worth a watch. But The Possession of Joel Delaney does have it's flaws, and it tends to drag on sometimes. Regardless, that shouldn't stop you from seeing this. Although it's not an outstanding horror film, it's definitely an entertaining one with an intriguing story to tell. It puts something new on the plate for horror fans. Perfect movie for Halloween!

jd cryptic
jd cryptic

Super Reviewer

Shirley Maclaine is Norah Benson, a New York socialite who slowly comes to realize that the spirit of a madman has taken over her brother's body in "The Possession of Joel Delaney". That short plot summary is the kindest thing I can think of to say about this movie, one of the most offensive I have ever seen. Now, I can be offended by something and enjoy it; [i]South Park[/i] has offended me on more than one occasion. But [i]South Park[/i] is smart and it never fails to entertain me and make me think, and through its very nature should offend everybody at some point. Watching "The Possession of Joel Delaney" just made me feel dirty. First there's the question of Norah's relationship with her brother Joel (Perry King). The movie attempts to mislead you at the beginning by having the two show up at a party together. Party guests comment on Norah's having traded in her ex-husband for a younger man. She looks on jealously as Joel spends time with a beautiful blonde. After the movie does everything but flat out tell us there's a romance going on, we find out they're siblings. But then the film continues to build on an incestuous subtext through brother/sister horseplay in a shower, jealous interrogations about lovers, and near kisses. There are scenes in this movie that MacLaine would refuse to play if real life brother Warren Beatty had been playing Joel. It would be fine if the movie had anything to do with incest, but there's nothing in the story that requires that sort of relationship, and it just makes the audience feel more uncomfortable than needed. Maybe that was the goal; a thriller should make the audience uncomfortable. It shouldn't, however, make the audience want to turn it off. There's also a nasty racist subtext going on. The movie contains a Puerto Rican voodoo cult. I was not aware that voodoo was that big among the Puerto Ricans, but I imagine the filmmakers could tell how racially insensitive the movie was, and decided not to offend anybody in the black community by making the cultists Haitian. The Puerto Rican people are constantly spoken of in derisive asides, and a boring ritual Norah attends comes off as embarrassing to everyone involved. Once the dead man has completely taken over Joel's body, he decides to go after Norah and her two children. Rather than take her son and daughter to someplace safe, though, like their father's house, she decides to take them to a remote beachfront cabin - the perfect place to get away and be chased by a killer without the interference from any police. The final confrontation in the beach house takes the movie to even deeper lows, with a couple of scenes bordering on child pornography. Shirley MacLaine must be ashamed to have this waste of film as part of an otherwise distinguished resume. Waris Hussein directs the movie so that it looks like a low-budget made-for-TV movie on videotape. I know this isn't the case because in the final credits we're told this movie was "[i]film[/i] entirely on location." They should have left the film there.

Sean Frith
Sean Frith

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