Welcome to Day 3 of our Halloween Week, in which we discuss Demons, Possessions, Exorcisms, etc! Some of my very favorite movies of all time (not just of horror films) are from this subgenre.
Being a predominantly Judeo-Christian society, many horror films seize on the fear of lurking evil in the form of demons, demonic possessions, or heck–even The Beast himself.
Fascination with Hell, demons and angels has been a prevalent theme in the arts, from literature to paintings, to the modern movie. Here’s a list of our very favorites.
The Omen (1976)
The American Ambassador to Great Britain, Robert Thorn, faces a difficult decision when he learns that his wife has given birth to a stillborn child–and the hospital offers him a newborn child whose mother has died in labor. Thorn accepts, and little Damien is brought into his family. Soon after Damien’s fifth birthday, however, strange things begin to happen. His nanny hangs herself at his birthday party, and a new nanny–complete with scary Rottweiler–takes her place. Damien doesn’t seem to like church very much. Animals don’t seem to like Damien that much either…and Robert Thorn discovers that his secretly adopted son has a truly shocking parentage.
The Omen is a timeless classic. Even today it terrifies, with its wonderful performances, deliciously creepy score, and atmospheric horror. *shudders* Demon child Damien and his trikey still gives me the creeps. (OH and note to Studios–don’t try to remake the classics. Really.)
This is one of Thea’s top 5 movies of all time–it’s bizarre dream sequences, the dual nature of people involved, the fragility of Rosemary Woodhouse and her determination to save her baby from the crazy old bats around her that really get me. This is a beautifully shot film, balancing the horror of what’s happening to Rosemary with dark humor in the ridiculousness of the other characters. Roman Polanski creates a masterpiece with Rosemary’s Baby, an iconic film for any generation. (Note: Ok I just read this right now: Director Michael Bay to Remake Rosemary’s Baby–confirmed for 2009/2010.…According to wikipedia, actresses being considered for the role of Rosemary Woodhouse are Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan and Blake Lively. I’m sobbing in disgust right now. F*ck you, Michael Bay. F*ck you.)
Billy Zane at his hottest. Seriously. I absolutely adore Tales from the Crypt, and this is just an awesome film. Here’s the gist of it: Since the Crucifixion of Christ, demons have been trying to overrun the world. There are keys to the seven gates of Hell to prevent that from ever happening, and the seven keys were spread amongst seven guardians. Cut to present day, where a man named Frank Brayker (played by the always wonderful William Sadler) is trying to outrun a man in a stetson, called the Collector (played by Billy Zane). Brayker is the last guardian, holding the last key that protects the universe from being torn asunder. The movie follows Brayker as he seeks refuge in an old New Mexico boarding house (that used to be a church). After a century protecting the key, Brayker knows his time is near, and he must find his replacement guardian and keep the key out of the clutches of the Collector. Really, this movie is gorram awesome. And hey–I miss the more hands on special effects (as opposed to all the CGI stuff that’s so popular now). If you haven’t seen it, you really should.
Demons (aka Demoni)
A Dario Argento classic. Two chicks go to watch a horror flick in the new theater in town–when a prostitute in the theater lobby cuts herself on a mask that eerily resembles the mask in the horror film. She soon becomes an infected demon, hungry for the blood of the theater patrons, transforming each moviegoer one by one with her wicked nails. The dubbing for this movie is atrocious. The production value is pretty bad…but it’s Dario Argento, baby. And…where else can you go to see a dude chopping down demons with a samurai sword as he rides through the theater on his motorcycle? (Yeah, yeah, so the Demons here are more akin to zombies…but who cares! They’re from the tomb of Nostradamus! You can’t top that!)
“We’ll tear your soul apart.”
Clive Barker’s best known monster, the demonic Pinhead, makes his debut here in Hellraiser (followed by numerous sequels). A man buys a puzzle box from an antique seller, only later to solve the puzzle, opening another dimension, and Pinhead and his Cenobites enter. Frank is ripped to shreds by long, chained hooks, tearing his flesh and drenching the room in his blood. Still, being torn apart, Franks horrid soul remains, manipulating people into feeding him flesh and blood to take back his human form (Frank is not a nice guy). Frank’s teenaged niece, Kristy, must find a way to appease the Cenobites, promising them Frank’s escaped soul, and trying to save herself in the process. The Hellraiser movies (at least the first three) are really bloody and depraved…in a really cool way. I mean, who doesn’t love Pinhead?
Prince of Darkness
Oh John Carpenter. How I love thee. Prince of Darkness is a trip. A strange cylinder filled with a swirling green liquid is discovered in the basement of an abandoned church, and a professor takes his graduate students to the scene to investigate the phenomenon. This type of setup can never end well. One by one, the liquid in the cylinder possesses the students, threatening to open a portal to another dimension, of anti-matter, where an anti-God threatens to come through (yes this sounds ridiculous, but it works. At least, I love it!). Prince of Darkness is the second movie in Carpenter’s Apocalypse trilogy (The Thing, Prince of Darkness and In the Mouth of Madness–all three are stunners, and we’ll have more on John Carpenter later this week!).
Last, but certainly not least, the finest, scariest movie ever made in Thea’s opinion: The Exorcist. You know the story. Young, adolescent girl is possessed by a pea-green vomit spewing, head twirling, levitating, hyperventilating, man voice demon. If this doesn’t scare the shit out of you, there’s something seriously wrong with you. From the opening scenes with Linda Blair peeing on the carpet, to her increasing irritation with the constant scans of her body, to the part where she stabs herself down THERE with a crucifix…and the ensuing scenes…well, suffice to say, this is not for the faint hearted. Thea has tried to get Ana to watch this movie but she refuses. Hmph. If you need to watch one horror movie in your lifetime, watch this one. **A note on the remastered version–Although I’m not a huge fan of the re-spliced demon face frames, the crabwalking down the stairs scene TOTALLY scared the crap outta me in the theater–I remember squeezing the hand of my friend in the next seat going “THAT WASN’T THERE BEFORE!!!!!!!”**
So there you have it. Any other demonic/possession type movies you love?