Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rating Game Redux 45: Are We Scared Yet?

Our local paper continues to love Halloween, calling for "Scariest Movie Moments." (I have excluded the obvious: Michael Bay, Wild Hogs, Mike Myers' accents)

Them! (1954)

In the opening sequence, a little girl in a bathrobe, clutching a doll, wanders trance-like through the desert. The giant ants that follow are pretty cool, but that image of the little girl conveys real dread, deeper in your head than any ‘50s creature-feature could actually deliver.

The Fly (1986)

Just about the longest man-to-monster transformation in the movies culminates with Seth Brundle’s doomed, surreal consideration of his slipping into fly-dom: “Have you ever heard of insect politics? Neither have I. Insects don't have politics. They're very brutal. No compassion, no compromise. We can't trust the insect. I'd like to become the first insect politician. You see, I'd like to, but I'm afraid.” Always the jazz performer, Jeff Goldblum plays the scene like sci-fi Shakespeare, scatting his way into the genetic abyss.

Psycho (1960)

While Milton Arbogast’s (Martin Balsam) slow ascent to his doom is Hitchcock working the scare-machine full tilt, it’s Anthony Perkins at his ease that scares me the most, with his boyish grin and stammer, watching Vivien Leigh eat “like a bird,” his attention, as always, maternal.

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