Which ones have you seen?
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A small-time reporter tries to convince the police she saw a murder in the apartment across from hers.
Mr. De Palma's first appearance on this list, with one of my favorite films of his. One thing that will trend more and more as I get into the 1980s and 1990s, are certain beloved filmmakers showing up multiple times here. You can probably guess what some of those films will be.
This is a movie that I spent ten plus years waiting for an HD release. It (and one other movie, Don't Look Now, that I will write about just below this one) were at the top of my wishlist for an eternity. At the time, I would make due by using the Netflix disc service to watch it every 2-3 years to get my fix while I waited. Until one day, when it was marked as no longer available. As if the one copy in circulation had finally been lost, stolen, or damaged.
Thank God Criterion finally came through a few years ago.
Brian wears his Hitchcock influences on his sleeve with this one. I mean, he always does. But he especially does with Sisters. Which is a good thing. Someone had to carry on his legacy, and Brian was the perfect candidate to do it.
It also features many of his other trademarks, like the split screen shot, where you watch two different events unfolding at the same time. Fun stuff.
But those are just details. What matters the most is an engaging plot that never gets old. I've watched this movie almost ten times at this point, and I never get tired of it. It's basically a ritual at this point.
Margot Kidder is also perfect as the lead, for reasons that seems a bit ironic when you see what happened to her later in life, though I don't want to mention too much in order to avoid spoilers.
The Wicker Man (1973)
A puritan Police Sergeant arrives in a Scottish island village in search of a missing girl, who the Pagan locals claim never existed.
Of the 16 films I've covered so far, this is my favorite of the bunch. It might even be in my top 10 of all time when it comes to horror. Maybe top 5. Maybe top 3! Probably because it is such a weird movie. Like, how does one even explain what sort of genre this falls under? Folk musical mystery thriller, with phallic imagery and lots of fruit? Lots of singing. Lots of bizarre sex and nudity. Lots of strange sights. It's a very unique film, even to this day.
I don't want to spoil anything about the plot either, because the film intentionally tries to befuddle the viewer throughout most of the runtime, much like the lone police Sergeant who must figure out just what the hell is going on in this strange island.
And it goes without saying that the infamous Nicholas Cage remake is not nearly as good. I mean, it's good in unintentionally hilarious ways, but can't hold a candle to this one.
Oh, this is also Christopher Lee's first appearance on this list. It might just be his finest work. And yes, that includes The Lord of the Rings.
Don't Look Now (1973)
A married couple grieving the recent death of their young daughter are in Venice when they encounter two elderly sisters, one of whom is psychic and brings a warning from beyond.
This is the other film I waited an eternity to get my hands on. Another film where I would constantly check out the disc in Netflix because I had no other way to watch it. Because I had to constantly watch it. It was a compulsion.
It's also yet another film where I implore the reader to not read anything about it as to not spoil the plot. I also don't want to say too much here. It's best to just go in blind.
It's also not a film that's going to be for everyone. It's incredibly rich in symbolism and dreamlike sequences, and tries hard to constantly disorient the viewer. Many people are not going to be down with that.
But for those who do stick with it, you can find an incredibly unique and interesting film that sticks with you.
Also, I have a massive crush on Julie Christie
The Exorcist (1974)
When a young girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.
Speaking of genre heavies, I of course had to include what many consider to be the form's mangum opus.
Ask any person over the age of 40 what the scariest movie of all time is, and there's like an 80% chance they're going to say The Exorcist. Ask a Catholic, and it's like a 150% chance.
There's a reason for that.
We've all seen the movie, we all know about the famous pea soup and head spinning scenes. But what truly gets me is
Regan, stabbing herself in the vagina with a crucifix, saying "fuck Jesus", and then grabbing her mother's head and telling her to "lick me" before making her do exactly that."
It's probably the most fucked up thing in the history of horror. The fact it was part of a major studio release back in the 70s is just mindblowing. It's any wonder that people were fainting in the theater. I'm surprised William Friedkin wasn't assassinated by some crazy on the street.
Also, you know how every year there's a new movie that comes out that's called the "The Exorcism of ____." Every. Single. Year. Because people are still chasing this thing, 50 years later. And it's pointless. The formula was already perfected long ago. There was nowhere else to take it.