Five Favorite Things – Horror Movies from new Mulholland author, Scott Reardon
1. The Exorcist
The Exorcist has the best setup of any horror film. It uses the decency of the characters and the stark realism of the dialogue and the cinematography to suck you in. Father Karras’s goodness, guarded as it is, is something you feel just by looking at his face. He’s suffering over the death of his mother, and he’s questioning his faith in God. He represents most of us, I think, in that he sees how the existence of God gives life meaning, and yet he simply can’t get himself to believe. He has a depth I always wished to see in a priest when I was a kid—but never did.
It is against this backdrop—of a man searching for and failing to find the height of human existence—that Reagan’s possession acquires its moral significance and thus its moral horror.
2. The Shining
I’m not proud of this, but as a husband and a father, I have moments where I connect with Jack Torrance. Wrestling my two-year-old son, Scotty, into some clothes is like fighting a very motivated Chucky doll. On top of which, he has patented a new fighting style where the only body parts attacked are the eyes and the nipples.
The Shining has always had a place in my heart because it shows a twenty-nine-year-old man’s id. And it shows his id at the exact point in his life—he’s supporting his family, trying to jumpstart a career—when responsibility demands this id be suppressed. Jack is interesting because he’s honest, and honesty is so fascinating to us it’s almost like a magic trick. Plus—and this is the scary thing—there’s a part of us that agrees with him. Something to think about the next time you see friends avidly discussing nap schedules and earnestly agreeing with a spouse who believes conversation should only be about “nice”, “positive” things.
I also love the movie second-hand—through my dad. You should see his eyes light up demonically when Mr. Grady says to Jack of Danny and Wendy: perhaps they need “a good talking to”, perhaps “a bit more.”
3. Friday the 13th Part 2, Part 4 and Part 6
What I love about the Friday the 13th series is how shallow and gleefully amoral the characters are. Whereas The Exorcist has an elevating moral center, Friday the 13th has no such encumbrance. In Part 4, a medical examiner attempts to seduce a nurse next to Jason’s dead body, and when she leaves in disgust, he promptly turns on a steamy aerobics video—casually transitioning to the next source of stimulus. The world would never tolerate such unfeeling honesty today.
Part 6 is probably my favorite. In one night, Tommy Jarvis, the main character, digs up a grave, defies local law enforcement, breaks out of jail, evades the local sheriff, makes out with the sheriff’s daughter and then kills a monster in a lake of fire. That’s pretty much my bucket list. I don’t want to go see giraffes in Africa or do yoga in India. I want to break things, promises, my mother’s heart, the law.
And piece of advice: if there’s a better way to make a woman fall in love with you than to defy her father, I don’t know of it.
4. An American Werewolf in London
My wife and I watch this movie maybe once every four years. And, without fail, every time the two
main characters walk through the misty English moors and wind up at the creepy tavern with the inbred-seeming villagers, my wife turns to me and says, “We have to go to northern England. You would love it up there.”
5. The Descent
Six women go down into a cave and encounter something human and yet inhuman.
You spend the first hour of the movie with these women, and it’s impossible not to like each one. They’re in their late twenties/early thirties, figuring out careers, relationships. They’re on the cusp of becoming what they’ll ultimately be—for the rest of their lives—and for potentially one last moment, they’re girly and cutting loose and almost pulling off being carefree. Watching the movie made me remember how nice that period was in my own life.
And then they go down into the cave. And then everything changes.
Exciting debut Mulholland author, Scott Reardon,is a graduate of Georgetown University and
Northwestern Law. He currently works at a venture capital firm in Los Angeles. THE PROMETHEUS MAN is being published on 1/24.