Originally airing on May 7, 1977, The Possessed is the kind of movie where you say, “This would be a good series.” That’s because it’s a back door pilot for a show that never happened. I really wish that it would have.
Kevin Leahy (James Farentino) is a Catholic priest who has fallen from his faith. He drunkenly smashes his car and dies, but God sends him back to our world to stop evil.
That divine mission brings him to the Helen Page School, where Ellen Sumner (Claudette Nevins, All the Marbles, Tuff Turf) is having issues dealing with her daughter Weezie (Ann Dusenberry, Jaws 2) and sister Louise, but soon has an even bigger problem — people and objects like her typewriter are suddenly bursting into flames.
The other schoolgirls play a prank on Weezie and are reprimanded, but soon, the curtains in Weezie’s room are on fire. Oh these bad girls! There’s Lane (Diana Scarwid, Christina from Mommie Dearest!), Alex, Celia (Dinah Manoff, daughter of Lee Grant and the first person to be killed by Chuckie in Child’s Play and also Richard Mulligan’s daughter on Empty Nest) and Marty (P.J. Soles!). Lane is the next to go up in flames at graduation practice, which brings Sergeant Taplinger around, investigating everyone.
There are plenty of subjects and people misbehaving, like Paul Winjam (Harrison Ford!), a teacher who has been romantically involved with Louise and now Weezie. And soon, Paul Leahy comes to help, but Paul soon dies when he catches on fire.
Soon, Louise has gone full Regan, spitting fluids and nails at our priest hero. He puts out her fire, saves her and disappears into a burning pool, one assumes to continue onto another occult adventure that will never happen.
The Possessed is pretty decent, taking it’s time to set up who the killer is and having a hero who really comes off as cold and cynical. It’s worth watching, even if it’s to spot the actor and see plenty of your favorites in early roles.