Four Classic Spooky Movie Reviews
By Max Sheikh
Regarded as one of the scariest movies ever, The Exorcist is nothing short of a classic. The director, William Friedkin, is responsible for the movie’s release in 1973. The extraordinary success The Exorcist gained inspired the sequel The Exorcist 2 (1977), The Exorcist 3 (1990), and The Exorcist: Believer (2023). Like Odysseus in Greek mythology, The Exorcist is incredibly innovative for the horror industry’s techniques and imagery ever since its release. Friedkin’s talented gift of creating unsettling imagery and uneasiness in this film was unfathomable, especially during the 1970s. Due to how graphic many scenes are, it would not be absurdly odd for the audience to feel offended or nauseated throughout. The protagonist, Linda Blair, endures most of the suffering from the torturous demonic possession that consumes her. The physical and mental battle Linda fights sets up a psychological feud for her family and most importantly, Priest Damien Karras. Karras’s conflict resides in his faith of God and whether he should continue to spread gospel. Not only does the case of Linda force him to confront his problem head on, but he finds his ultimate purpose by saving Linda by willingly sacrificing himself in heroic fashion. The phenomenal side conflict of Karras elevates the movie from great to classic. The foreshadowing of Linda’s eventual possession is subtle and continuous in the beginning. Imagery of Chris MacNeil’s (Linda’s mother) stress is perfectly acted by Ellen Burstyn. The ending is nothing short of relieving, but at the very same time tragic. The Exorcist lacks nothing while remaining the best horror movie of all time until proven otherwise.
Before Jaws (1975) would become one of the most renowned thrillers/horrors to ever touch cinema, the story originally began as a novel in 1974 by Peter Benchley. Steven Spielberg loved the story so much that just a year later he adapted the book into his own movie. The story consists of a great white shark terrorizing a frequently toured beach in New England. The simplicity of the plot defines the phrase “quality over quantity” plainly because of the film’s flawless execution. The suspension Spielberg creates is like no other, especially during scenes of distressed citizens afraid for their flesh. The depth of characters dives deep. Sheriff Roy Scheider allows the audience to relate to the story in a much more personal aspect than other characters because of his warranted fear of the aquatic beast. Dreyfuss’ Hooper is insightful, hilarious, and provides some of the best dialogue in the whole film. And of course, the protagonist Martin Brody provides his iconic role with complexity and triumph. Although the shark looks clearly fake at specific times during Jaws, a pass will be handed out due to its time-period and how cool it appears. Without a doubt, Jaws is a must watch before a Hawaii family vacation.
Many argue Scary Movie (2000)is one of the best Horror-Comedy films ever made. Being that Scary Movie is a spoof of several past horror movies and television shows, especially Scream, the film is not that scary. However, relying on making the audience laugh and to experience mindless fun, along with a stereotypical horror movie plot, is more than okay. Though the comedy is frequently predictable, there is still elegance about the way director Keenen Ivory Wayans achieves this effect. His close and unflinching style gives that humorous and equally degrading substance to fly across both genres into this tantalizing tale. All of this is possible due to quick pacing and keeping the audience engaged with packed action. Touching back to the movie being considered as a spoof, the parodies are executed perfectly. Specifically, Doofus, who arguably has more sense than his counterpart in Scream. The cast is stacked with comedic timing. Some of the writing’s jokes and gags do unfortunately fall flat though. The only purpose Scary Movie strives for is the intention to demean other films with parodies. Rather than trying to force a theme like other films. The film brought the Horror-Comedy genre to an all-time high.
Halloween turned Michael Myers into a nationally renowned name that either forces chills down spines or has the mind imagine a white hockey mask. Director John Carpenter created his first hit with Halloween (1978) and quickly followed it up with The Fog (1980) and The Thing (1982), displaying in hindsight his genius horror ability. Beginning on the titular night in 1963, the audience watches the point of view of a six year old witnessing Michael Myers stab his older sister to death with a kitchen knife. Such an uncanny tone as this scene abruptly reveals Halloween will start and end a brutal film. What steals the show is the musical theme that plays throughout. It is one of Carpenter’s most notable musical pieces and is a major reason behind this film’s success. Whenever its main theme surfaces, there is an uneasiness felt in those moments and whispers of an ominous presence dominate those sequences. Not to mention Jamie Lee Curtis’s acting performance as Laurie. Landing as the unlucky victim of Michael Myers, Curtis conveys her role with such determination and convincing tension no other character could muster up. What is bothersome though is the night shots, they seem clumsy and rushed. Understood, the 1970’s had far less capable film techniques than today, but a lazy look is seen when compared to how beautifully filmed later John Carpenter films are. Overall, Halloween provides a fright in perfect fashion for the spooky month of October. Considering the number of times, the film has been ripped off and cheaply remade, it is safe to say Halloween is an ingenious classic.