Monday, October 18, 2010

Whatta ya think about the scariest film ever?

By the way, friends and users: This post, as do many, links via the post's title to the articles that got me thinking of making a post of it. If you click on "Whatta ya think about the scariest film ever," it will take you to the MSNBC poll that I've put up here.

I'd have to toss it up between "The  Shining" and "Alien."

I like "The Exorcist" very much-- as a novel and film, it's the greatest of all these titles, in my opinion, but for different reasons. I see it as a metaphorical study of the nexus of psychology and religion, though it's important for me to state unequivocally that I see its value as being entirely metaphorical; in other words, I don't believe that possession by outside, intelligent forces of any kind has happened or can happen. In fact, that goes against the entire structure of my own spiritual beliefs.

Am going to write an essay on this novel and film sometime in the next few months-- hope you'll look for it because I've been mentally planning it for several years. :)

In any case, I'm interested in anyone's opinion about the scariest and best horror films and thrillers.


  1. Def. the Exorcist - maybe it's because I was only 12 years old when I first saw it and it scared the shit out of me. Nothing will ever be more scary to me.
    I hate slasher movies - like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Stupid and NOT scary.

  2. I agree with you, Colleen, about the slasher flicks-- they rely to much on shocks and if they're bad enough, then on blood and disgusting imagery.

    It's funny-- I saw "The Exorcist" when I was about 12, too, but I don't remember it scaring me much-- not because I was particularly brave but because I think I was too young to have been engaged by its first hour, during which Chris (Barbars Stanwyck), the star and actress mother of young Regan, slowly perceives that something is wrong with her daughter and dutifully goes through the processes of medical testing, then psychiatric examination, and finally, on the suggestion of the doctors at the Menninger Clinic, who can't find anything medically wrong with her, to the priest, Damian Kerras (Jason Miller), who is struggling with the loss of both his mother and his faith in his religion and his vocation.

    What has made the film and also the novel on which the film is based so powerful to me as an adult, a father, and a person with some experience in dealing with the mental illnesses of others, is the masterful way the story builds a slow but steady crescendo of tension-- as we become more and more afraid for Regan, we also become more and more involved with the deepening despair felt by Damian and also by Regan's mother. Further, despite Chris's status as a wealthy movie star who we first see cavorting with Georgetown and D.C. high society, which includes a dinner at the White House, she wins our sympathy, rather unexpectedly, as she abandons a long awaited opportunity to direct a film and to detach herself from her daughter's illness via her money and the conditions of her career, and rather stays close to Regan and to the entire process by which the demonic presence which has taken over Regan's body seeks all opportunity to destroy the souls of not Regan alone, but all who come near her.

    "Alien" is an entirely different story, of course, but Ridley Scott succeeds at building an even greater block of tension as the crew of the Nostromo answer the distress call which leads to their being invaded by the pitiless and entirely homicidal alien being.

    "The Exorcist," like "Leaving Las Vegas," is especially great to me because it's one of those stories in which a great novel is made into a great film. They are the same story, of course, and yet on another, perhaps deeper level of experience, they really become different stories-- and yet in the end, when we pull back from both the novel and the film, we see that both have contributed immensely to the experience we've had, and which we can only have, via the storytelling medium.