Zulawski's Deranged Classic Possession Tonight on TCM Underground



Alas, Nashville didn't get a crack at the recent theatrical revival of an ’80s oddity long overdue for another look: Andrzej Zulawski's 1981 Possession, boasting a whirling-dervish demonstration of pure id by leading lady Isabelle Adjani (along with icky special effects courtesy of E.T. creator Carlo Rambaldi). But the uncut version turns up fresh out of theaters late tonight at 1 a.m. on Turner Classic Movies' DVR godsend TCM Underground. Here's J. Hoberman on the occasion of its stand in December at New York's Film Forum:

The phrase "over the top" doesn't begin to characterize Polish director Andrzej Zulawski's 1981 Possession. Made with an international cast in still-divided Berlin, the movie starts as an unusually violent breakup film, takes an extremely yucky turn toward Repulsion-style psychological breakdown, escalates into the avant-garde splatterific body horror of the '70s (Eraserhead or The Brood), and ends in the realm of pulp metaphysics as in I Married a Monster From Outer Space.

Critics found Possession risible when, cut by some 40 minutes, it opened here for Halloween 1983. I confess I was one, terming it "a sort of arty Basket Case . . . difficult to recount with a straight face." But I never forgot it; Possession is not a movie you can easily scrape off the bottom of your shoe, particularly in the complete two-hour version that is having its belated local premiere this week.

The clip above ... well, words fail us, other than the word "yikes!" You go, Isabelle Adjani. In a masterstroke of programming, the movie's followed at 3:15 a.m. by another daredevil psychic freakout, Catherine Deneuve in Roman Polanski's unnerving Repulsion.

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