The Devil made me do it! Satan, Beelzebub, Lord of Lies… Whatever you call him, the Devil sure gets big roles in movies. The Exorcist (Linda Blair) may be the most well known, and respected devilish devil film, but Rosemary’s Baby is definitely no slouch. Here’s a few movies you’ll have a devil of a time with on Halloween – or any time you feel like watching good battling evil.
Rosemary’s Baby, based on the book by Ira Levin, is one of the first big Hollywood films to deal with the devil – in this case his unholy spawn. Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is a nice young gal married to a nice young guy who’s a nice young actor. They set up house in a nice, creepy apartment in New York City, and that’s when lots of not so nice things befall them. Roman Polanski directed this instant classic which asks – if everybody thinks you’re going crazy, should you listen to them or to that tiny voice inside? And no, not the one that’s telling you to check into a mental hospital. Farrow plays a woman on the absolute edge so well, that the lack of supernatural flash found in most devil films is forgivable. In fact, it’s primarily that scarcity of outright supernatural events which makes this one so believable and unsettling.
The Devil’s Bride
This British chiller gives Christopher Lee (Lord Of The Rings) a rare chance – in a Hammer movie anyway – to be a knight in shining armor. He doesn’t wield a sword, but instead plays a sort of Doctor Strange like sorcery expert. His dark arts knowledge is so advanced, he can face the Devil, fight him, and live to tell the terror tale. Released the same year as Rosemary’s Baby, the production values aren’t as high, nor the story as richly realized, yet it still delivers a mythic sense of a battle of good vs evil. Hammer’s clever, and economical, reuse of sets, props and costumes offers more of an expensive look than it probably cost. Look for great practical onset effects, convincing optical effects and such a finely choreographed car chase, it would make even James Bond jealous.
It’s the Star Wars of devil films, the Gone With The Wind of wicked spirit flicks. Linda Blair may have never become an A-list superstar, but her frightful turn here from a joyful teen into a jeepers creepers demon is one classic performance to be proud of in any acting career at any age. If little Regan wasn’t so cheerfully brought to life by Blair, we’d never care so much when the foul thing of hell takes control of her body. No matter how many times I watch, the movie never fails to scare, disturb or even shock me. It’s often be imitated – usually poorly – but there’s only one Exorcist. No amount of digital animation trick or 3D effect now or in the future will likely eclipse this chilling masterpiece.
Richard Donner is responsible for one of the most inspiring movies of all time in Superman, starring Christopher Reeves and Margot Kidder, and directed one of the most desolate movies ever. The Exorcist may still reign supreme as the best devil film, but The Omen must comes in second best. With riveting performances by Gregory Peck, Lee Remick and David Warner, the movie portends the coming of the anti-christ – or the Devil’s son. This Christian notion of good versus evil, or the end of times battle of Armageddon can be fascinating to anyone of any faith – even atheists. Simple fact is that no matter your level of faith, or your rejection of same, there are those around us who can be called ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ Here, a little boy may indeed by an earthly incarnation of Satan’s seed. Jerry Goldsmith’s hypnotically creepy score shows his musical genius, as well as on such classics as Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Planet Of The Apes.
Beyond The Door
A somewhat forgotten shocker, which takes an actress who played a lovable character on Nanny and the Professor, Juliet Mills, and mutates her into a raving, expectant mother of pure evil. The Italian movie plays a bit like a cheap version of The Exorcist, however it’s well acted, and there’s real genuine chills to be found. In the UK and Australia, it goes by the title The Devil Within Her. Financially, it performed more than admirably. As a low budget Indy made for $350,000, and snagging a healthy $15 million at the box office, it clearly made a huge profit. Devilish wealth indeed!