13. Cannibal Girls (1973, Ivan Reitman)
Cannibal Girls is the most melancholy comedy I think I’ve ever seen.
The wintry, desolate landscapes. The aching piano score that sounds like Erik Satie composed it while drunk. The general feeling of existential hopelessness.
And yet it’s pretty funny!
The opening credits warn us that the film was improvised by the cast. Normally this would set alarm bells ringing, but the cast includes well known Canadian comedians Andrea Martin and Eugene Levy.
That’s right, Jim’s dad from American Pie is the star. Inevitably, the off the cuff dialogue throws up a few howlers like
‘You’re being unreasonable.’
‘Well I think you’re being unreasonable.’
‘Oh I’m being unreasonable?’
But there are some genuinely laugh out loud moments.
The horror elements are less successful, but are plentiful nonetheless.
Worth a watch for Canucksploitation fans.
I ALSO WATCHED…
14. The Exorcist (1973, William Friedkin)
I’d seen The Exorcist twice before this viewing and I remain unconvinced, though I’m beginning to come around.
I guess I have two main problems.
One is the endless hand wringing Catholic guilt. I’m not religious, so losing faith in god means nothing to me. To be honest, the film could lose the entire Father Karras plot line and I think it would be a substantial improvement.
And secondly, the demon, once revealed, is more comical than scary. And I don’t mean the special effects, which are still quite impressive today.
No, I mean that the demon is just a petulant, spoilt brat. It’s a total moody teenager, spending all day in bed, masturbating, and swearing the way teens do when they first discover ‘bad words.’
Perhaps if we had seen the murder of Burke it would have raised the stakes of the film, as we could have gotten a real understanding of the demon’s powers. But no, instead he seems content to just inhabit the body of a little girl and swear at priests. What’s his end game here?
That said, I definitely enjoyed it a lot more this time. And my goodness, I had never seen the famous ‘spider walk’ sequence before. Now that is one of the most potent and unexpected shocks I’ve ever witnessed. Ironically, the only film I can think of offhand with a more outrageous jump scare is the infinitely superior Exorcist III!
15. Raising Cain The Director’s Cut (1992, Brian De Palma)
I’m a big fan of Brian De Palma, but Raising Cain has always been a hard one to love. Constantly teetering on the brink of self parody, John Lithgow is required to play the roles of a 40-something perfect husband, his hoodlum brother, a 7 year old and their father.
This director’s cut goes some way towards salvaging the film’s reputation.
By messing around with the chronology, the constantly shifting timeline keeps the viewer on their toes throughout.
Was that a dream sequence?
Wait, was that a dream sequence?
But isn’t she dead?
What the fuck is happening?
It’s my kind of movie.
If you’re new to De Palma, then for heaven’s sake start with Carrie or Dressed to Kill or Blow Out. But for fans, this is a nice new way to watch a misunderstood gem.