Tag Archives: Rosemary’s Baby

10 classic movies that I will never fully understand the appeal of:

Because I can’t sleep, and you’ve been dying to know.  Here they are, in no particular order:

1) “Memento” (2000)
2) “Fight Club” (1999)
3) “American Psycho” (2000)
4) “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968)
5) “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
6) “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975)
7) “Natural Born Killers” (1994)
8) Lucio Fulci’s “Zombi” (alternately titled “Zombi 2,” 1979)
9) “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” (1982)
10) “The Big Chill” (1983)

And … worst of all … I’m kinda on the fence about the first two “The Evil Dead” films (1981, 1987), Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” (1971) and John Carpenter’s original “Halloween” (1978).   I am hanging my head in shame here over those last two.  I know Kubrick’s film is considered a masterpiece.  I saw it twice when I was a college student (once in a psychology class!), soooo … maybe I just wasn’t mature enough to grasp it?  Mea culpa, people.

I left “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “Ben Hur” (1959) off the list, because I haven’t seen them in their entirety.  I was nonplussed enough to turn those off after 40 minutes or so, but I’m weird about never saying I dislike a movie unless I watch the whole thing.  You can add 1979’s “Phantasm” to this category too.

I know, I know … there’s nothing wrong with any of these films (except “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” of course, which is terrible).  There are just basic ingredients in them that I somehow fail to appreciate.

Now one of you needs to e-mail me a cure for insomnia.


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“Hereditary” (2018) is an expert horror film that I’m not sure you should see.

“Hereditary” (2018) is a difficult movie to review.  It’s an exceptionally well made horror film, enough for me to rate it at least a 9 out of 10.  But its content is so disturbing that I’m not sure that I can actually recommend it to others.

From a technical standpoint, the movie is almost perfect.  It’s an astonishingly good first feature film for writer-director Ari Aster, it’s gorgeously shot in the hills and deserts of Utah, and it’s masterfully directed.  The performances are uniformly perfect.  If I were to name each actor who hands in a fantastic performance, I’d simply be reading its cast list.  I can’t remember the last time I watched a feature film in which every single major performance was exemplary.  And “Hereditary” gets damned scary in its third act.   (Seriously, give it time.)

The only flaws that I can think of are extremely minor.  The pacing isn’t perfect.  (The story occasionally seems to slow when events should be accelerating.)  I had problems with the way that one key character was portrayed, and there was one plot point that gave me trouble.  (I can’t say more for fear of spoilers.)  But these things are so forgivable that they hardly merit a mention here.  You simply can’t argue that this movie was expertly assembled.

Yet I didn’t always enjoy “Hereditary.”  I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t state that.  I shut it off more than once, and then came back to it when I felt more able to stomach the brutal events it depicted.

“Hereditary” is more than a “dark” movie; it’s gut wrenching.  Even if you have read its reviews and you’ve seen the movie’s marketing, then you still aren’t anticipating what will transpire on screen.  (I’d even go so far as to say that the film’s marketing was misleading, but I can’t specify why here.)  Yes, there’s a obvious “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) vibe, and it’s sometimes reminiscent of “The Exorcist” (1973), but the movie pushes well past the boundaries of those films, and it does so fairly early on.  If I, a lifelong horror fan, was turned off by this, then I’m willing to bet that it would also be too much for a lot of casual film goers.  (And indeed, while critics loved this film, audiences last year generally hated it.)

I’m closing with a little bit of trivia.  Toni Collette gives a tour-de-force performance here as the troubled mother.  If she looks familiar to you, that might be because she’s also the mom in another well known supernatural horror film — M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense” (1999).



“Annabelle” (2014) scared the $#@& out of me!!

“Annabelle” seems like precisely the sort of horror film that shouldn’t work.  Thinly drawn characters wind their way through a series of overly familiar tropes, including, of course, the titular possessed doll.  These characters make the same baffling decisions that only people in horror movies are stupid enough to make, and cavalierly remain in dangerous situations long after you and I would have gotten the hell out of there.  The film is so reminiscent of “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) that for a while I actually wondered if it was a remake.  And the script is pretty clunky — especially the coda at the church.

Yet … “Annabelle” still works.  This is a frikkin’ scary movie.  I’d give it a 9 out of 10.

There are a couple of reasons for the movie’s success, I think.  First, it’s beautifully shot and directed throughout an especially creepy apartment building. Our supernatural antagonists are (at first) wisely seen down long corridors and stairwells.  There are some static shots of the doll but none of the silly cut-and-cut-back tricks to explain that it is moving on its own.

Second, there is no ham-handed CGI to make the action cartoonish; there are only sparsely placed practical effects, and they work quite well.  This felt like an effective old-fashioned 1970’s horror movie about the devil.

Third, Annabelle Wallis does well in her role as the wife in the young married couple targeted by Satan. She underplays it quite a bit, but she’s still a good actress.  (The beautiful Wallis is none other than the college student that young Charles Xavier tried to pick up in 2011’s “X-Men: First Class.”  And, yes, she does have the same first name as the demonic doll.  Weird world.)

I was confused at first about the awkward and confusing bookends to the film; they’re distracting and unnecessary.  Wikipedia informs me that these are intended to remind viewers that this movie is a spinoff of “The Conjuring” (2013), which is regarded by horror fans as superior to this film.  I guess I’ll need to watch that soon.