The Exorcist (1973)


exorcistBefore last night, any version of The Exorcist was the version I’ve never seen. I remember being somewhat obsessed with this when they re-released the film in 2000, continually asking my father what it was like.

And, as fate would have it, my brother and I were on a binge of rented horror movies from our local video store not ten minutes away (a lot of those we watched I’ll review – refer to “Upcoming Reviews”).

You know the score: girl is possessed, pea soup, crucifix-dildo. The whole shebang.

What this wasn’t, however, was what Scary Movie 2 had led me to believe: a girl is posessed and it’s scary and an old man attempts an exorcism.

I’m still sort of in schock at how much more it was than that and how amazed I am over the film.

It’s quite a long one, and though as we get older, long movies tend to be watched less and less, I’m definitely going to watch this when it comes out on Blu-Ray many times over.

The simple fact about this film, apart from its age (70s and 80s horror movies immediately earn my respect, at the very least interest in watching it) is, unlike a lot of horror movies, at least nowadays, the horror is built up around character. It’s not “This is scary, so be scared.” It’s the film-makers locking a connection to the audience before little Regan is possessed and the sheer emotion that makes this scary, not the actual event. It’s the reactions to the event that make this scary.

If this movie was not released in the early seventies and was recently released as is, there would be people (mostly ignorant teenagers) that would laugh at quite a few of the things in this. While I found some effects in some scenes to have been executed primitively, this film was made almost forty years ago. That’s to be expected.

The thing I got out of this film as well, and I’m not sure whether or not this was my interpretation or what, but there is a substantial amount of subject matter orbiting around mental illness and psychiatry. While, in the seventies, this would have purely been about a girl that is possessed, I found more meaning in the simple fact that Regan is taken over by a demon and people she loves, and people she’s never met as well, want to help her. That is something I have experienced when I had depression and it was at is worst, so I related to that aspect of the film – whether that was intentional or purely interprative on my part is to be determined…

As a film on its own, however, there’s hardly anything wrong with it, I believe, maybe except for old-school effects (which is one of the reasons I love older horror movies). The acting is fantastic, especially on Ellen Burstyn and Jason Miller’s parts, as well as the sheer chutzpah on Linda Blair’s part. As the credits started rolling, I felt compelled to write a letter that consisted only of the sentence “Thank you, Linda, for bringing Regan to life.”

The film, for me, is so personal and so outstanding that once you watch this it is easy to understand why so many horror films suck (the majority of them, at least). I can’t say anything other than how much I loved it. I loved it. This is truly deserving of the five-star (ahem, skull) rating.



Silent Hill (2006)


silent hillI have always had a strange connection to anything Japanese, moreso than anything Australian or American, for that matter. I think that the way the Japanese construct films and stories and mythologies is absolutely amazing.

Video-game movies usually get a bad rap because – what can you do with it? I hear they’re making a Pac-Man movie now…

But as consoles got more advanced as well as the graphics, and you could fit more onto the disc for the consoles, more story was put forward. And this video-game film stands on its own as a fantastic horror film in its own right, without any linking to the video game series, so here’s hoping that the Bioshock film will be amazing as well.

Rose is scared for her daughter, Sharon. Sharon sleepwalks at night and talks in her sleep, continually muttering the words “Silent Hill…”. In a desperate attempt to try and stop this, Rose takes Sharon to Silent Hill against the request of her husband, Christopher. Upon arriving being chased by a cop, she crashes and Sharon is gone. Scared out of her mind for Sharon and noticing that Silent Hill is more than just a town, Rose goes on a game of life and death to save her daughter.

I did play the video game when this game out, and unfortunately I have moved onto an XBox 360 and have no Sony at all in my room save for my amplifier, and sold the game on eBay, but the game, despite being clunky, was atmospheric and provided a bit of back story for me going into this film. This is a film you pretty much need to pay attention and/or watch it more than once to fully understand it, as it’s so multi-layered it isn’t funny.

The story is absolutely crazy and this, along with the very cool Saw III, are the only films that literally left me breathless, gasping for words to describe what I had just experienced, and to this day, I watch this film in awe and there is something I cannot quite put my finger on about why I love this film so much. The characters, well, the only character that we really focus on is Rose, and she’s written amazingly well and I absolutely love protagonists and heroes of films that aren’t superheroes. At one point in the film, Rose falls through a window and lands on the ground in the dank rain while darkness reigns Silent Hill, crying and saying “I can’t do it…I can’t…” and Radha Mitchell, who portrays Rose, really brought this amazing motherhood factor into a monster fest, so I think that is maybe why I love this film so much. The film has its base firmly grounded – mother worried about child, wants to get help, but then it gets excessively creepy and frightening, both in the monster sense of the word and purely mental sense of the word, assaulting the senses and emotions like no other film I’ve seen.

I’m breathless as I type this just thinking of it!

The Canadian Blu-Ray disc released by Alliance Atlantis is barebones. Nada. Nothing at all besides a cool menu. Which is a shame. However, the picture on the film is fantastic. I had read somewhere that Christophe Gans, the director of the film, used film cameras to film the scenes where Silent Hill is “normal” and used HD cameras for when the darkness takes Silent Hill over, and I never really noticed it, not even in the cinema, until this Blu-Ray disc. It’s beautiful to look at from a technical point of view as you don’t get alternating master sources like this.

It is presented in 2:35:1 unlike the DVD release of 1:85:1 which is fantastic because the cinema was 2:35:1 and it just adds this amazing filmic quality, this theatricality and this amazing field of vision that enhances the film.

I absolutely loved it. Five.