Monday, October 27, 2003

Demons, Pumpkins, and Ghosts... Oh My!

Originally published in The Vanguard, the student newspaper of The University of South Alabama

Happy Halloween, from The Casual Critic! One of my favorite Halloween activities is watching scary movies. After surveying the staff members of The Vanguard and JAG TV, I found I am not the only fan of scary movies. I asked staff members to list their top five scary/horror movies. Here are the three most popular, and as an added bonus, the Halloween movie I watch every year, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown."

The Ring
The most popular among student media staffers, "The Ring" is a terrifying journey. More mystery than horror, this movie is very well thought out and the clues are subtle enough, so even the most shrewd moviegoers cannot guess the end. I know this for a fact, because my best friend always figures movies out before the end, and she was completely surprised by the ending of "The Ring." The movie is about a videotape that looks like someone's nightmare. If you watch it, you will die in seven days. The reporter investigating the story watches the tape, and the movie counts down the days she has left until the seventh. It is very intense.
Watching this movie a second time makes it less scary, but it is easier to appreciate the clues given throughout the story. The DVD extras are great. One segment in particular shows an unlabeled tape in a Blockbuster Video store, waiting for some unsuspecting consumer to pick it up and watch it. "Before you die, you see The Ring"
Final Grade: B+

The Exorcist
Having never seen this movie before, I was excited about renting and watching it. I've heard it is a scary movie and it ranked second place in my staff poll. I can see how it would have been a scary movie in 1973, when it was released, but I have obviously been desensitized by the "violence" of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and all the scary movies I've seen. "The Exorcist" is about a little girl who has been possessed. The spirit within her calls itself the devil, and it causes all sorts of interesting (and appalling) things to come from her mouth! If horrifying sexual suggestions and projectile vomiting coming from a little girl is your idea of scary or fun, you will love this movie. While I did say "The Exorcist" was not scary to me, it was horrifying, which makes it a great movie for Halloween.
Final Grade B

The Others
Nicole Kidman is ethereal and eerie in this suspenseful thriller. "The Others" is a story about a mother, her two children, and the servants who live in their house. Be prepared to have no idea what is going on while watching this movie, but at the end, you will find yourself surprised and satisfied with the way things turn out. It is creepy in a very psychological way, but there are plenty of what I like to call "cheap scares," where things are not what they seem, but before you realize it, they have made you jump out of your skin. "The Others" is a great Halloween movie and should be watched with... others!
Final Grade: A

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
My all-time favorite Halloween movie by my all-time favorite cast! I am a huge Peanuts fan, so obviously I would include this special in my Halloween movie picks. The special opens with Linus and Lucy choosing a pumpkin. Linus drags it to their house and places it on the floor, while Lucy wields a very sharp knife. The first line is "Ohhhh. You didn't tell me you were gonna kill it!" The dialogue only gets better from there, with such gems as Linus saying to Sally, "I thought little girls were innocent and trusting" and Sally retorting, "Welcome to the 20th century." "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is a seasonal special both children and adults can enjoy. I plan to watch it with my 7-year-old nephew this weekend. Final Grade: A

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