The Silence of the Lambs (1991, #22)
The Shining (1980, #50)
The Exorcist (1973, #207)
These are 3 scary movies. I remember watching The Exorcist at home when my parents were away and during the exorcism scene the only light in the living room clicked off (because it was on a timer) and I ran upstairs and hid in my bed. It may not have been the first film to deal with this aspect of exorcism but it seems to be the first that hit the mainstream hard and successful.
The Shining (or the Simpsons “The Shinning”) was also creepier as you have a family moving in as the winter caretakers of the hotel. Weirdness ensues and some of the most memorable quotes comes form this movie. (“Here’s Johnny”, Redrum) The isolation of the hotel, what really happened there previously, and who are those creepy girls? There is a theatre in Ottawa that has been showing the Shining in what they call Back to Front, and what is that? They use 2 projectors and show the film on one from the beginning and on the other they show it from end to beginning on the same screen. The symmetry is supposed to be amazing (it never shows near where I live, if anyone has seen this please let us know what the result is). This just was another proof that Kubrick was an awesome director.
That leaves us with Silence. Creepy on so many levels. Hannibal’s ability to get into people’s minds. That Lector mask. The cell designed to avoid any physical contact (and for just cause). The relationship between Hannibal and Clarice The serial killer that Clarice is chasing. It was an extremely beautifully shot film filled with extreme brutality. It also did something that few films had done before and that was to make the audience like a despicable character who had no remorse for what he had done. My proof, the audience “cheers” Hannibal when he says “He’s going to have an old friend for dinner” A comedian did a bit about how Hannibal wouldn’t have been as scary if he spoke in a Newfoundland accent, and it’s true (mentally right now say Hannibal’s speech to Clarice about the lambs, with that accent).
I never would put my family in the Shining scenario, and chances are that I won’t be involved in an exorcism (but chances go up for ministers) and so my choice is Silence of the Lambs just for sheer creepiness. In our world we realize that there are monsters who live among us. The depravity that man is capable of seems to becoming more common place in our society. I know it has been there but maybe I was protected from it by my parents, but then you learn history and read the newspaper and I shudder what the world will be like in another couple of decades.
The best actor is Jack Nicholson for The Shining. We see a normal man slowly descending into madness, and Jack is at his scenery chewing best here. Hopkins is presented as a full blown monster who we wouldn’t have anything to do with.
The best actress goes the Jodie Foster as the agent who must ask for help from a monster to catch a monster. And her superiors don’t even think she should be an agent. Where we can’t identify with Hannibal, we are most able to identify with Clarise.
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