Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Exorcist (1973) Entered As Part Of The Horror Canon

I toyed with the idea of making the first entry into The Horror Canon a lesser known or less popular title, just to shake things up. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the true horror classics were going to prove their belonging no matter what I tried to do. So, I just got out of the way and let the films speak for themselves. The first to stand up to the test...

Everybody has an opinion on this film. No matter if you love it or hate it, there's no denying the stamp this film has put on our culture. The Catholic Church has pronounced the actual film negative itself evil. Pea soup makes people think of only one thing. "The Power of Christ compels you!" has become a punchline. Everybody knows the reputation of the film, but do people realize that this is one of the scariest movies EVER?! Still today it is unsettling, uncomfortable, and exhausting to watch.

Directed by William Friedkin, and starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller, and of course Linda Blair, The Exorcist won 2 Oscars (Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium) and was nominated for 7 more. The script was written by William Peter Blatty, who adapted it from his own novel.

The film opens in Northern Iraq with some unsettling imagery, a palpable feeling of dread, and a creepy statue that we see again near the end of the film.

Throughout the film we have a great side story that comes into play later concerning Father Karras (Jason Miller) and his mother. The screen below is from Father Karras' dream. It's tense and leaves you with an eerie feeling.

Lt. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) checks out the staircase where Burke met his demise. It's all at once ordinary, sinister, and foreboding.

This abomination in the church is one of the more tame acts witnessed by the audience. The level of offensive verbal and physical battery dished out by young Reagan is still harsh, even by today's standards.

The pea soup... It's what most people first mention when this film comes up in conversation. It's abrupt, unexpected, and shocking.

This iconic scene marks the beginning of one of cinema's most well known battles between Good and Evil. We see Father Merrin arrive by cab...

...and then we see The Devil waiting to meet him. Reagan truly looks like a monster all through the second part of this film. The voice makes things all the more awful.

As the confrontation crescendos, the creepy statue from the beginning of the film shows itself once again. It's almost over, but the price to be paid is steep.

The aftermath...

Two dead priests. Despite all the demonic taunting and uncomfortable imagery, the audience is finally given peace, but at the cost of two good men's lives.

People believe this film is evil. I believe that this film has the power to scare, and get people thinking about what they believe...

And with that I give you The Exorcist, officially canonized in the world of horror cinema.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Camp Superlatives!

The Friday the 13th films... I am unable to view them subjectively anymore. I've seen them too many times to know if they suck, or are works of art. Regardless, here I pick some of my favorite moments and characters to award superlatives to.

Worst "Cool Guy" Who Totally Misses the Mark: Andy (Friday The 13th Part 3)
Andy is dopey, annoying, and has the dumbest haircut ever. We're supposed to like this guy?

Best Original Story Element: The Jason Hunter
(Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter)
He's the big brother of Sandy (Friday the 13th Part 2) and he's planning revenge.

Best Jason: Friday The 13th - The Final Chapter
Jason is relentless in this movie. He shows up where he's not expected, he plays dead, and he runs!

Weirdest Character: This Guy
(Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning)
This guy has no reason to be in the film other than to hike up the body count...and be a perv.

Cutest Camp Couple: Jeff & Sandy
(Friday The 13th Part 2)
These two can't seem to stay out of trouble, but we love 'em anyway. Their truck gets towed, they almost get arrested, they get dead.

Best Law Enforcement Official: Sheriff Tucker
(Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning)
It's awesome that this film FINALLY features a sheriff that ACTUALLY believes that Jason IS the killer...except that Jason is NOT the killer.

Worst Impression of a Teenager: Victor J. Faden
(Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning)
How was this guy cast as a teenager?! It just doesn't make any sense...

Most Uncomfortable Moment: Tie "I've got something real neat to show you up in my bedroom!" and "C'mon, climb up Miss."
Mrs. Jarvis is okay with Tommy taking strangers up to his bedroom. Maybe that is the root of all his emotional problems later on, and not Jason...
And Enos, the Dirty Old Man with the roamin' hands.

Scariest Moment: "He's Killing Me!"
(Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter)
It's dark. Trish can't see what's going on except that the Jason Hunter has bitten off more than he can chew. The way he screams makes the whole scene.

Best Red Herring: Steve Christy
(Friday The 13th)
Before anyone knew about Jason Voorhees and the 10 sequels and 1 remake, I bet everyone in the theater totally thought this guy was the killer.

Best Campfire: Friday The 13th Part 2
This is the best version of the Camp Crystal Lake back story I've ever heard. It's suitably creepy, totally effective, and ends with a laugh.

Best Town Crazy: Ralph, the original "Prophet of Doom"
(Friday The 13th & Friday The 13th Part 2)
Who else could it be? There are a few more characters like this in the series, but no one else get's to yell "Its got a death curse!"

Best Kill: Tie: Marcie (Friday The 13th) and Fox (Friday The 13th Part 3)
These are both brutal murders. Marcie's because you get to watch it as it happens, and see her character reacting to the situation. Fox's because you see the aftermath and think "How the crap did that happen?!"

Biggest Douche: Tie: Ned (Friday The 13th) and Scott (Friday The 13th Part 2)
It's so painful to watch every other character in the movie become increasingly annoyed with Ned. And Scott is so confident, but for seemingly no reason. I can't be alone in my dislike of these characters, can I?

Best Final Girl: Ginny Fields
(Friday The 13th Part 2)
Smart, funny, beautiful. Ginny is the best Final Girl of any slasher movie...ever.

The Top 13 Things That Come to Mind When I Think of the Friday the 13th Movies

(this article was originally written by me and posted by Stacie Ponder on the phenomenal Final Girl blog as part of the "Friday the 13th Blog-A-Thon, July 13th, 2007)

It’s Friday the 13th. You all know that. And I wanted to do something special to celebrate it. By ‘something special’ I mean watch the movie series. Again. It seems that’s all my unmotivated,
unimaginative brain can muster every Friday the 13th. But this time is different. I was challenged to take part in THE “Friday The 13th Blog-a-thon” (for the uninitiated, try to make a regular part of your information/entertainment diet). I’m not saying that watching the F13 movie series on this every-so-often pseudo holiday is a bad way to celebrate. Quite the opposite. I just need some inspiration from time to time.

Now, in front of you is a list. I know, I know. You’ve already looked ahead and you’ve noticed that this list has 13 entries. 13 of them! You're thinking, "Chris, that's just plain crazy!" But, this being a special day and all I’ve decided to pull out all the stops. This list contains the first 13 things that come to mind when I think of the Friday the 13th movies. The entries are in no particular order. I hope you enjoy this very special ‘Top 13 Things That Come To Mind When I Think Of The Friday The 13th Movies.’

1. Near the end of “Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood” when Dr. Crews and Mrs. Shepherd are looking for Tina, Mrs. Shepherd is yelling “Tina! Tina!” I always wanted to tell her to stop, because what a terrible sound she makes.

2. Grown-up Tommy Jarvis is some sort of kung Fu champion. He really knows how to mix it up in “Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning.” I’m always impressed.

3. During most of the 90’s I worked at a summer camp in Maine. There was a “haunted camp” a few miles away through the woods. At night we would go there and try to scare each other, of course inspired by the Friday movies.

4. I always laugh at the end of “Friday the 13th Part 2” when Paul and Ginny take off Jason’s mask and look at his face. After being shocked at Jason’s deformities, Paul says “Jesus…” I always try to picture it like a Scooby-Doo ending and when they unmask the killer Paul says t hat because he thinks the killer WAS Jesus.

5. In “Friday the 13th” Annie is talking to you-know-who. “I guess I always wanted to work with children. I hate when people call them kids. Sounds like little goats. But when you’ve had a dream as long as I have, you’ll do anything.” What the crap is she talking about?! And what does she mean by ‘anything?’

6. The banana eating hitchhiker in “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” is one of my favorite characters in any of the movies. And her premeditated reaction to the insults she knows she’s going to get from people is awesome.

7. I bet being picked up and slammed against a tree while in a sleeping bag would really suck. So, I hope that never happens to me.

8. Once, my friend and I watched all the Friday movies and wrote down a list of the ways everyone died. Man, after all these years I still can’t figure out why we thought that was a good idea.

9. Crispin Glover is a wacky dancer. Is that the way he dances in real life?

10. When I was 13 years old, my friends and I decided that we looked old enough to get in to see “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan“ in theaters. The plan was to tell our parents that we were going to see “Weekend at Bernie’s.” Apparently, we forgot to take into account the ticket booth guy’s common sense, because he busted us. And because we got a ride to the theater and were stranded there for the duration, we decided to go see “Weekend at Bernie’s.”

11. Another stupid conversation, this time from “Friday the 13th Part 3.” Rick is talking to Chrissy as he’s putting bails of hay in the barn. “I realize I’m just a dumb country boy and my feeling really don’t matter, but this is the sweat of a worker on my forehead, not of a lover. Now, I believe that there is a time and a place for everything. And now’s the time, and now’s the place, if you know what I mean.” No, Rick I don’t know what you mean. Who wrote your crappy dialog?!

12. For whatever reason, “Friday the 13th Part 3” is a perfect Halloween movie for me. I watch it every year.

13. At the beginning of “Friday the 13th Part 3” Harold walks toward his house and accidentally knocks over a stick holding up the laundry line. His wife immediately yells out the window at him, “God damn it Harold! I spent all day yesterday washing your clothes. Look what you’re doing to them. You know I work very hard around here trying to keep up with you and all your sloppy habits. And I get no help from you at all!” It’s just funny to me how quickly she is on
this poor guy.

Enjoy your Friday the 13th. I’m going now to watch the movies. Again.