In the 70s the devil was a big hit in the cinemas thanks to these three films. They are almost too famous to need much more than a quick summary
This film is directed by Richard Donner and isn’t set in one location but has much more open feel. It is based on Christian mythology but takes many liberties with that mythology. It is interesting the influence this film has had on the fringes of Christianity especially with millennium cults. It seems that no-one could be an important figure in show business or politics without some cultist declaring that there’s some sort of numerological evidence that they are the antichrist.
Robert Thorne (Gregory Peck), an American diplomat, is attending the birth of his baby in hospital but when he is told the baby died he agrees to secretly adopt another baby and raise him as their own without telling his wife Kathy (Lee Remick).
Five years later a crazy priest Father (Patrick Troughton) tries to warn Thorne that the child Damien is the son of the devil Thorne dismisses his raving but a seed has been planted.
Damien’s nanny kills herself very publically at the boy’s fifth birthday party. She is replaced by the imposing Mrs Blaylock who seems too willing to go beyond the call of duty to protect Damien and is willing to defy the Thornes when she sees fit.
When Father warns Thorne that Kathy is pregnant but Damien will kill the baby then kill Kathy he starts to listen to him. After the priest dies and Kathy loses the baby in a fall Thorne heads off to Italy with a photographer called Jennings (David Warner) and then to Jerusalem to confirm the priest’s terrible story.
Though it has a lot of supernatural elements this film feels a lot more like a mystery thriller than horror story. It’s a big dumb film and without the performances of the grade A cast it would look every bit as silly at as the story really is.
This Roman Polanski film has a very claustrophobic feel to it with almost all it set in a couple of apartments in a New York apartment block.
A young couple Rosemary Woodhouse (Mia Farrow) and her husband Guy (John Cassavetes) move into new apartment. Guy is a struggling actor but they want to start a family. Their new neighbours are Minnie (Ruth Gordon) and Roman Castevet (Sidney Blackmer). Minnie is a pushy woman who regularly won’t take no for answer, taking advantage of Rosemary’s politeness and more withdrawn personality to push into her house. Minnie invites Rosemary and Guy to dinner and while Rosemary has a tiring evening with Minnie Guy seems to be genuinely fascinated by Roman and often spends nights talking with him.
When Guy lands an important acting role they start to take the idea of starting a family seriously and Guy even has Rosemary’s most fertile part of her cycle circled on the calendar. On that night they have romantic meal followed by a dessert made by Minnie. Rosemary doesn’t like the dessert and dumps it when Guy isn’t looking but she still feel dizzy and tired so Guy puts her to bed
Rosemary has a very strange dream that night that starts very relaxing but it turns nightmarish when she sees large bestial figure raping her and she’s certain it’s no longer a dream. Next day Guy tries to claim that he had sex with her while she was passed out. Rosemary notices a different mood in Guy and he seems to avoid looking at her.
Rosemary is delighted to discover she is pregnant and so is Guy. Minnie is really excited too and insists on helping her out. Roman and Minnie insist that Rosemary uses a friend of theirs who is a famous obstetrician. As the pregnancy goes on Minnie pushes her way into controlling Rosemary with kindness and her special herbal vitamin drinks
When Rosemary sees her old friends they are shocked at how ill she looks especially when she tells him that she is in constant pain. They convince of what she already suspects, that something is badly wrong. Another old friend leaves a book about modern satanic cults for her before his mysterious death. This helps to explain a lot of the strange things happening and Rosemary is certain they mean to harm her baby in a ritual. Even worse she knows Guy is part of them.
Rosemary dumps the food and drinks made by Minnie and starts feeding herself. She tries to get another obstetrician to help her but Rosemary doesn’t seem aware of how crazy she sounds so it is no surprise to anyone except her that he calls Guy.
I remember hearing the buzz around this film when it came out but I was far too young to see it in a cinema. William Friedkin has created a masterpiece in slow burn horror that builds to a climactic battle between good and evil.
The headline plot is well-known: 12 year old Regan McNeil (Linda Blair) has a sudden drastic change in personality accompanied by strange things which can only have supernatural explanation. After exhausting the best minds of medical science a doctor recommends an exorcism
To get an exorcism Regan’s mother Kathy (Ellen Burstyn) turns to Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) who is also a fully qualified psychiatrist. The film is actually just as much about Damien Karras as it’s about Regan. Damien is even more sceptical about an exorcism than the doctors. He tries to dissuade Kathy but Kathy is desperate so after confronting the demon he agrees to try to get permission. The church agrees with his recommendation but want someone experienced to carry it out. They bring in Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow), an archaeologist, to perform the ritual.
The third act is all the exorcism of the demon possessing Regan By Merrin, assisted by Karras and much of it has passed in culture so even those have not seen the film know about what happens the prayers, the pea soup vomit, the head twisted right round, the extreme verbal abuse. Karras has to face his guilt and lack of faith to free Regan from the demon and though there is plenty of evidence of evil on display it is Karras’s sacrifice that saves the day.