REVIEW: SCREAM

CAST

Neve Campbell (Wild Things)
Skeet Ulrich (As Good as it Gets)
Courteney Cox (Masters of The Universe)
Matthew Lillard (Scooby-Doo)
David Arquette (Eight Legged Freaks)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Drew Barrymore (Charles Angels)
Liev Schreiber (The Fifth Wave)
Rose McGowan (Jawbreaker)
W. Earl brown (Bates Motel)
Roger Jackson (The Powerpuff Girls)
Joseph Whipp (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Linda Blair (The Exorcist)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)

screamHigh school student Casey Becker receives a flirtatious phone call from an unknown person, asking her, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” However, the caller turns sadistic and threatens her life. He reveals that her boyfriend Steve Orth is being held hostage and demands she answer questions about horror films. After Casey gets one wrong, Steve is murdered. When Casey refuses to answer more questions, she is murdered by a masked killer. Her parents come home to find her corpse hanging from a tree. The following day, the news media descend on the town and a police investigation begins. Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott struggles with the impending first anniversary of her mother’s murder by Cotton Weary. While waiting at home for her friend, Tatum Riley, Sidney receives a threatening phone call. After she hangs up she is attacked by the killer, but manages to escape. Sidney’s boyfriend, Billy Loomis, arrives shortly after, but after he drops his cell phone, Sidney suspects him of making the call and flees. Billy is arrested and Sidney spends the night at Tatum’s house.scream-2Billy is released the next day. Suspicion has shifted to Sidney’s father, Neil Prescott, as the calls have been traced to his phone. School is suspended in the wake of the murders. After the students have left the school, Principal Himbry is stabbed to death in his office. Tatum’s boyfriend, Stu Macher throws a party to celebrate the school’s closure. The party is attended by Sidney, Tatum, their friend Randy Meeks, and multiple other students. Reporter Gale Weathers attends uninvited to cover the situation, as she expects the killer to strike. Tatum’s brother deputy sheriff Dewey Riley also looks out for the murderer at the party. Tatum is killed during the party after having her head crushed by the garage door. Billy arrives to speak to Sidney privately, and the two ultimately consummate their relationship. Dewey and Gale investigate a nearby abandoned car. Many party attendees are drawn away after hearing news of Himbry’s death; Sidney, Billy, Randy, Stu, and Gale’s cameraman Kenny remain.After having sex, Sidney and Billy are attacked by the killer, who seemingly murders Billy.Scream-cast-at-fountainSidney narrowly escapes the house and seeks help from Kenny, but the killer slits his throat; Sidney then flees again. Gale and Dewey, having discovered that the car belongs to Neil Prescott, return to the house. They believe Neil is the killer and has come to the party to continue his spree. Gale tries to escape in her van, but drives off the road and crashes to avoid hitting Sidney. Meanwhile, Dewey is stabbed in the back while investigating in the house, and Sidney takes his gun. Stu and Randy appear and accuse each other of being the killer. Sidney retreats into the house, where she finds Billy wounded but still alive. She gives Billy the gun; he lets Randy into the house and shoots him. Billy reveals that he feigned his injuries and is actually the killer; Stu is his accomplice.Billy and Stu discuss their plan to kill Sidney and frame the murder spree on her father, whom they have taken hostage. The pair also reveal that they, not Cotton, murdered her mother, Maureen, as she was having an affair with Billy’s father, which drove his mother away. Gale, who survived the crash, intervenes, and Sidney takes advantage of this to turn the tables on her attackers, killing Stu. Randy is revealed to be wounded but alive. Billy attacks Sidney but she shoots him through the head, killing him. As the sun rises and police arrive, a badly injured Dewey is taken away by ambulance and Gale makes an impromptu news report about the night’s events.
Despite the fact everyone is actually aware of the ‘horror movie as life’ analogy at play, most people dismiss the genre clichés that could potentially save their lives, and inevitably end up meeting their maker anyway. By taking the bold step to often times put the main characters in the very situations they’re attempting to satire. So, without question, Craven and Williamson revitalized the horror scene in 1996 with this film. Not only because it was actually able to deliver legitimate scares and keep the audience guessing who the killer was until the very end, but because it’s genuinely entertaining throughout its entirety.

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REVIEW: EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC

CAST

Linda Blair (Hell Night)
Richard Burton (Ellis Island)
Kitty Winn (Peeper)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Paul Henreid (Casablanca)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Ned Beatty (Superman)
Louise Fletcher (Star Trek: DS9)

Philip Lamont, a priest struggling with his faith, attempts to exorcise a possessed South American girl who claims to “heal the sick”. However, the exorcism goes wrong and a lit candle sets fire to the girl’s dress, killing her. Afterwards, Lamont is assigned by the Cardinal to investigate the death of Father Lankester Merrin, who had been killed four years prior in the course of exorcising the Assyrian demon Pazuzu from Regan MacNeil. The Cardinal informs Lamont (who has had some experience at exorcism, and has been exposed to Merrin’s teachings) that Merrin is up on posthumous heresy charges due to his controversial writings. Apparently, Church authorities are trying to modernize and do not want to acknowledge that Satan as an actual evil entity exists.
Regan, although now seemingly normal and staying with guardian Sharon Spencer in New York, continues to be monitored at a psychiatric institute by Dr. Gene Tuskin. Regan claims she remembers nothing about her ordeal in Washington, D.C., but Tuskin believes her memories are only buried or repressed. Father Lamont visits the institute but his attempts to question Regan about the circumstances of Father Merrin’s death are rebuffed by Dr. Tuskin, believing that Lamont’s approach would do Regan more harm than good. In an attempt to plumb her memories of the exorcism, specifically the circumstances in which Merrin died, Dr. Tuskin hypnotizes the girl, to whom she is linked by a “synchronizer” — a biofeedback device used by two people to synchronize their brainwaves. After a guided tour by Sharon of the Georgetown house where the exorcism took place, Lamont returns to be coupled with Regan by the synchronizer. The priest is spirited to the past by Pazuzu to observe Father Merrin exorcising a young boy, Kokumo, in Africa. Learning that the boy developed special powers to fight Pazuzu, who appears as a swarm of locusts, Lamont journeys to Africa, defying his superior, to seek help from the adult Kokumo.
Lamont learns that Pazuzu attacks people who all have some form of psychic healing ability. Kokumo has since become a scientist, studying how to prevent grasshoppers from becoming locust swarms. Regan is able to reach telepathically inside the minds of others; she uses this to help an autistic girl to speak, for instance. Father Merrin belonged to a group of theologians who believed that psychic powers were a spiritual gift which would one day be shared by all humanity in a kind of global consciousness, and thought people like Kokumo and Regan were foreshadowers of this new type of humanity. In a vision, Merrin asks Lamont to watch over Regan.
Lamont and Regan return to the old house in Georgetown. The pair are followed by Tuskin and Sharon, concerned about Regan’s safety. En route, Pazuzu tempts Lamont by offering him unlimited power, appearing as a succubus doppelgänger of Regan. Lamont initially succumbs to the demon but is brought back by Regan and attacks the Regan doppelgänger while a swarm of locusts deluge the pair and the entire house begins to crumble around them. However, Lamont manages to kill the Regan doppelgänger by beating open its chest and pulling out its heart. In the end, Regan banishes the locusts (and Pazuzu) by enacting the same ritual attempted by Kokumo to get rid of locusts in Africa (although he failed and was possessed). Outside the house, Sharon dies from burn injuries after she immolates herself and Tuskin tells Lamont to watch over Regan. Regan and Lamont leave and Tuskin remains at the house to answer the police’s questions.
In the end, Exorcist II: The Heretic is an awkward affair, with scenes that end abruptly, and truly bad acting by an overly cute Blair and a bored, if intense, Burton. Like most sequels, it merely tarnishes its predecessor, instead of enhancing it, though it tries.

REVIEW: THE EXORCIST (1973)

 

CAST

Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream)
Max Von Sydow (Conan The Barbarian)
Jason Miller (Toy Soldiers)
Linda Blair (Hell Night)
Kitty Winn (Peeper)
Robert Symonds (The Ice Pirates)

Released in 1973 to unsuspecting audiences worldwide, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist has shocked, appalled, outraged, reassured and just plain terrified millions of people during the last 40 years. Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name (which was, in turn, inspired by a documented 1949 event), this jarring film professes the existence of demonic possession under seemingly random circumstances: any one of us could fall victim, even an innocent young girl. The victim is Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair), who gradually shifts from a precocious pre-teen to a vomiting, hate-spewing representation of Satan himself. Her atheist mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn) tries almost everything to save Regan—pills, medical procedures, psychiatry—before turning to religion, represented by Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a struggling Catholic priest who reluctantly takes the unusual case. Soon enough, he calls in the elderly Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), and both men take part in an exorcism to wholly remove the evil spirit from Regan’s body.The Catholic Church infamously endorsed The Exorcist—even promoted it, to a certain extent—and why not? The movie makes Fathers Merrin and Kerris look like superheroes during the climactic exorcism, battling Satan for the soul of a helpless 12 year-old girl while staring death square in the eyes. All of this transpires after numerous medical procedures are attempted and doctors half-heartedly prescribe drugs to sedate the troubled young girl. “Science can’t save us and religion comes to the rescue”…so if that falls in line with your belief system, you’re more likely to be affected by what transpires here. Still, The Exorcist relies too heavily on gross-out gags, jump scares and its central “child in distress” to feel like anything more than an extended version of shock treatment. Well-made shock treatment, sure. Either way, The Exorcist carved itself a devout following during the last 40 years and even spawned sequels. It also warranted the release of a director’s cut in 2000, infamously advertised as “The Version You’ve Never Seen”.Having no long-standing ties to the theatrical cut (after all, I first saw The Exorcist just a few short years before the director’s cut had come about), I don’t emphatically prefer one over the other. The addition of a few scenes—medical procedures, the infamous “spider walk”, a short scene of Father Karras listening to tapes of a younger Regan, and a conversation between Karras and Merrin during the exorcism—are either modest improvements or, at the very least, short enough to not overstay their welcome. Yet other additions (including a few subliminally-flashed demon faces and a longer ending) detract from the overall experience. Overall, it’s a toss-up in my opinion, so the viewer is left to decide whether the Director’s Cut is worth another ten minutes. What matters most is that both versions are available here.