Thursday, August 26, 2010
I'm not a devoutly religious person by any means, but I have always found the idea of exorcism and possession to be one of the scariest and horrific concepts in all of horror. There's something about the idea of being completely taken over by a demonic or satanic presence in order to do its bidding that engulfs me with mass amounts of anxiety.
I was born a Roman-Catholic, raised Lutheran, and have the mindset of a Universal Unitarian. The town my high school was in has more churches per capita than any other city in the world. This being said, I've had my fair share of religion as well as experienced the different "types" of religious followers. I've seen everything from anti-christ devil worshipers, to the nature loving Wiccans, all the way up to families performing Quiverfull [the Jesus is my condom method] and having families with 16 home-schooled children. I've encountered a countless number of people that have told me time and time again, that exorcism is a very real and very scary practice. That being said, here is a showcase of some of my personal favorites that deal with exorcism.
Exorcism and possession films are quite the tender subject, so I've deemed it necessary to start off with something a little more light-hearted. Leslie Nielsen seriously deserves a lifetime achievement award for his work in comedy films. Cult favorite, Repossessed is my favorite of his horror comedies. The story tells of a priest called on to perform an exorcism of a possessed woman played by Regan MacNeil herself, Linda Blair. The entire film is a spoof of the exorcism film that put Blair on the map, but it heavily parodies how ridiculous exorcist films can be. While it may not be scary, it truly does show how difficult it can be to try to portray an exorcism as anything more than levitating foul mouthed children and angry yelling.
Of all the exorcism films made in the last 30 or so years, The Exorcism of Emily Rose seems to hang on the fence of brilliance or disappointment depending on who you're asking. More of a court drama than a horror film, TEOER contains many scenes that will be forever haunting and will hopefully become appreciated as years go by. My favorite is when Emily Rose, who never played piano in her life, slowly begins to play Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# Minor (which is arguably one of the most haunting piano pieces ever composed). Jennifer Carpenter is extremely talented in her portrayal of the college co-ed under the control of demonic forces, and proudly admits to contorting her body into the weird configurations herself.
SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT!!!
[REC]2 (and essentially [REC]) are not about zombies. They're demons possessions. There, I said it. One of the most horrifying movies to come out in the past 5 years is about satanic possessions and there are quite a few instances in [REC]2 that have to deal with the performance of exorcisms. I just about peed my pants when I first saw these two films and my mind was infinitely blown when it was finally put together that the mysterious disease was not a zombie outbreak, but a religious explosion of terror. Damn, Spaniards.
When we are speaking of exorcism movies, Academy Award winning feature, The Exorcist is the granddaddy of all things possessed and satanic. Arguably the scariest movie of all time, the story of demon possessed Regan MacNeil has become one of the most iconic and the most profitable horror films ever to hit the silver screen. With more memorable scenes than any 10 horror films combined, The Exorcist has withstood the test of time by frightening generations for the past 30+ years. Regan's famous "spiderwalk" has established the unwritten rule that possessed girls must have the ability of body contortion, the head spin has been recreated in countless horror films of all sub genres, and even the ever so comedic "green soup" vomit has been recognized as a staple in American pop culture ever since. The Exorcist truly is the quintessential exorcism film and every exorcism horror film since, has been created in honor and homage to it.