This, according to science, is the Scariest Movie of All Time. I had to go back and watch it again because of course there is going to be controversy and I wanted to be able to defend the outcome. I thought when I was compiling the list that The Exorcist would be number one by a walk. But heeeeeeere’s Johnny! But why? What makes this movie so scary (and not scary)? Well, here’s a list.
- Jack Nicholson’s performance. You could probably just stop here, but I can actually quibble with the beginning of the movie. If you think about what the movie is supposed to be about, Jack should not have been crazy at the beginning. The hotel was supposed to make him crazy. But he was kind of a freak to start with. Even during the interview. If I were Mr. Ullman I would totally have not hired him. Weird creep.
- Steadicam. It might seem dumb now but at the time, following Danny all over the place on his big wheel was a huge deal. The smoothness. The ability to create really long scenes with no cuts. The ability to make the viewer vaguely seasick. All of these things brought to you by the Steadicam.
- Being like the book. Well, other than the basic premise, there were not a lot of details retained from the books. The names? Random bits of dialog. I guess the fact that, at least in my opinion, this is the best novel that Stephen King ever wrote (or maybe the only one) made it a good framework for a scary movie.
- Not being like the book. I suppose that since people think it’s so damn scary tha the axe has to have something to do with it. In the book it wasn’t an axe he was whomping people with. It was a roque (why didn’t he just say croquet?) mallet. So while the shock value of killing people with an Axe is good, he really only killed ONE person with it. Poor Scatman Crothers. He didn’t even die in the book. So instead of smacking people with a hammer for a whole night, he just CHASES people with an axe and all of a sudden that’s more scary? BAH!
- Old lady in the bathtub. She was pretty gross. Not as gross as your mom, but pretty gross.
Now that I think about it – this movie had the creepy twins and Jack Nicholson acting or overacting or something. What the fuck. The Exorcist got so screwed. Stupid Olive Oyl Wendy! Trailer after the jump.