10/20/08 - Top 5 Werewolf Films - Do this tail make my ass look big?
10/21/08 - Top 5 Vampire Films - They want to suck your blood.
10/22/08 - Top 5 Maniac Films - Serial killers and madmen.
10/23/08 - Top 5 "Other Side" Films - Ghosts, demons and satanism. Oh my!
10/24/08 - Top 5 Monster/Other Films - A potpourri of mixed goodies.
Earl's Top Five "Other Side" Films
I know this is gonna be a tough one for me. So many great films to choose from in this category and few absolute iconic choices in there as well. First, let's define "other side" films as any that deal in the paranormal (ghosts, witches, etc...), or with demonic possession or any kind of deviltry. How do I pare that down to just five, you might ask. Not an easy task.
I think horror films, more so than any other genre, lend themselves to repetitive viewings. So I want my scary movies to be almost as scary on the fourth viewing as they were on the first viewing. This leaves out neo-classics like The Sixth Sense and The Others...films with a twist. The Sixth Sense is a fantastically scary film. The first time you watch it. And then the last act occurs and you realize it wasn't all that scary after all. So I'm leaving it out. So I'll try to cover all my bases here and include some ghost stories, some demonic stories and the like. Let's see how it all pans out.
5. Poltergeist (1982) - Written by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper, this one had blockbuster written all over it. And it doesn't disappoint. While a lot of it was light-hearted and goofy, when things got bad they REALLY got bad. A kid is sucked into the TV, a killer clown doll, maggoty meat and faces getting ripped off. This is one scary ghost story. Serves those mother-fuckers right for desecrating holy ground like that. I still get a chill whenever the slutty teen aged daughter comes home to all hell breaking loose. Her reaction ("WHAT'S HAPPENING?!?") is priceless and chilling. Also creepy to watch now since both she and the actress who played the young girl died tragically soon after the film was released. Crazy.
4. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005) - Most of the scary films that I have seen in my life come from a time when I was much younger and much more prone to getting frightened. This film scared the piss out of me just last year. Actually, Gia and I are gonna watch it again tonight. She has never seen it. I can't wait! The absolute star turn handed in by Jennifer Carpenter as the possessed girl is nothing short of amazing. The filmmakers were able to bypass a good deal of planned CGI simply because she was able to contort herself into those creepy positions all by herself. She supposedly even freaked out the crew of the film with her talents. I liked the courtroom drama premise as well. This is one scary flick!
3. The Exorcist (1973) - I hemmed and hawed about including this one, but eventually I just had to remember how much the commercials for it scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. The music, the scenery and that green pea soup. Wow! I don't know if a tale of demonic possession can get any scarier than this. And great acting all around from Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Linda Blair and Max von Sydow. I've only seen it twice in my life and I'm not looking forward to seeing it again any time soon. It's THAT scary!
2. The Omen (1976) - The 70's were a glorious time for satanic horror films, weren't they? It's the tale of an American diplomat who slowly finds out that his son may be the living incarnation of the Anti-Christ. That's gotta be hard on a dad. As was shown in The Exorcist, it's scary as hell when kids are shown to be in danger of spiritual forces. But when it's the kid himself who is the agent of evil...well, that just takes it to another level. The final scene of the film at the funeral has the creepy kid break the third wall and stare with evil intent directly at the audience. That's just fucking wrong, man!
1. The Shining (1980) - This adaptation of Stephen King's novel works on just so many levels. It's a ghost story, a cabin fever/man with an ax story and a possession story all wrapped up in one tidy 146 minute film. The casting of Jack and Wendy Torrance was beyond brilliant and Jack's descent into madness is portrayed perfectly by auteur Stanley Kubrick. The film is actually much better than the excellent novel, in my opinion. Whereas King often takes things too far with his work, Kubrick found a more subtle form of madness. Nicholson hamming it up through the 2nd and 3rd acts helped a lot as well. "Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. You didn't let me finish my sentence. I said, I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in. Gonna bash 'em right the fuck in! ha ha ha!" Indeed.
Honorable mention: The Wicker Man (1973), The Haunting (1963), The Blair Witch Project (1999), Burnt Offerings (1976), Season of the Witch aka Hungry Wives (1972). That last one was written and directed by George Romero as well. That cat made some absolute classics back in his day!
Did I miss any? Hmmm?