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I just finished watching THE EXORCIST and came to the conclusion that it's not so much the film that scares you, its the psychology of what you may expect.
There really is only about 27 minutes of Regan lying around wreaking havoc. The rest of the time is spent playing with our minds. It's a well crafted screenplay that makes the film a modern classic.
The next time you decide to pop this puppy on the old laserdisc player or in the video machine, take note, you may not be seeing as much as you think.
In HALLOWEEN and it's commentary alike, Carpenter and Hill make a very good point. When trying to create fear, it's not so much on how gory you can make the film, its what you can make the audience think. As all of us know, HALLOWEEN is practically a goreless movie. It's the little moments that MAKE you scared.
The EXORCIST does this and achieves it very well without boring the hell out of its viewer. While Regan's mother is off trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with her daughter, the audience is left hanging and wants to know what her daughter is doing while Mom's at the hospitals and what not.
One cannot forget the soundtrack and sound elements (the film won an Oscar for sound editing). The sounds coming from Regan's mouth OFF SCREEN are just as effective as they are ON SCREEN. The sheer thought of a non practicing religious family and their confrontation with the devil builds the film's intensity. The infamous TUBULAR BELLS by MIKE OLDFIELD only lights up the soundtrack a few minutes. While in comparison the SHAPE in HALLOWEEN fludders the score.
Now take a film like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, a film which I know you're going to flame me for, I personally detest. In HOLOCAUST the trouble lies within the character development. No one in the film is at all likeable, so you feel no sympathy for them. People find the film so disturbing because of the craftsmanship in detail of a wiggly 16mm film camera. If you took that away, the film wouldn't grab you the way it does. It'd just be another Cannibal movie. Technically, the film's location is effective but on other notes it fails. It fails in authenticity as well, for example: watch when one of the film makers loads the camera, he's using a German Camera. He'd have to load it in a film bag in order as not to expose it to sunlight. The scene with two central characters making love in front of the Cannibals....It's not disturbing, it's silly and voyeuristic which is where the film's sole purpose lies. We are supposed to feel like we landed on this incredible journey while actually we simply set sail on a good idea.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trashing any of these films (HALLOWEEN happens to be my favorite film of ALL TIME) Im just giving an underminded opinion. The next time you watch these films again, take note, your not looking at what you may think you're looking at.
Film, the whole beauty of it is the creation of illusion.
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST: */12