Mel Brooks gave us Jews in Space, but this week in The Vault of Horror--as well as Brutal as Hell--we're giving you Jews in horror! That's right, it's Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights! And this time around in The Lucky 13 series, we're casting our oil lamps on Jewish horror directors. Specifically, I've chosen to write about my very favorite horror film by a Jewish director, and my dear colleague Ms. BJ-C of The Vault's sister blog Day of the Woman has taken an even broader approach, spotlighting three of her very favorite horror directors among the Chosen People.
So put down that dreidel, stop giving your poor mother so much shpilkes with all your meshugass, grab a bissel cake and read on...
B-Sol on The Exorcist
It may seem a tad silly selecting this film, since it could very easily top the list of most people's favorite horror movies, period--let alone horror movies from Jewish directors alone. Nevertheless, since The Exorcist went mysteriously absent from the original Lucky 13 series (Not even in the Devil & Demons category?? Come on, people!), this is my chance to right that heinous wrong.
What can possibly be said about this classic to extol its greatness that hasn't already been said? It was nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture, and remains the highest-grossing horror movie ever made. And although it has its detractors--as all great films do--there can be little doubt that The Exorcist is one of the all-time triumphs of American cinema, a crown jewel from an era that gave us so many.
With stellar performances from Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow, Linda Blair and especially Jason Miller in particular as the beleaguered Father Damian Karras, this is a film of great depth and weight, finished in a way in which few horror films are finished, with the deft touch of a master auteur. It's unfortunate that Friedkin never quite equaled the heights he achieved with The Exorcist, his masterpiece, but it nevertheless remains as what it has been for much of the past four decades--not just a great horror film, but the great horror film.
BJ-C of Day of the Woman on David Cronenberg, Eli Roth & Sam Raimi
Okay, so I'm sort of splitting hairs on this one, considering Cronenberg has denounced his Jewish faith and identifies himself as an atheist. Regardless, he was raised in a Jewish household and that's good enough for me. Cronenberg is easily the king of venereal horror films. No one can make a film as gruesomely intelligent as Cronenberg. His films often times explored the fear factors humans possess when it comes to infection and bodily transformations. For me, someone with an uncontrollable fear of being diagnosed with leprosy, he hits the nail on the head every. single. time. A small little tidbit is that Cronenberg was considered to be the director for Return of the Jedi, and I can honestly say that the world wouldn't have been able to handle that much awesome in one film, and the results would have been the equivalent to dividing by zero... So I guess it's a good thing he didn't pick up that job. But Cronenberg will forever be the king of body horror.
Oh, Eli Roth, you sexy sexy bear Jew, you. As much as the world is fully aware of how much of a douchebag you are in real life, I can't take away the fact that you directed some of the most highly thought-of horror films of the last decade. Personally, I disliked Hostel, but I'd be a fool if I denied the fact that his films have developed an almost cult-like following. Roth definitely has a fiery passion for the genre and for that, he has my respect. As for his actions on Twitter towards other horror journalists... he's on the fence ;)
Alright, Sam Raimi is the God of my world. He gave me our savior, Bruce Campbell, and his Necronomicon Ex Mortis serves as my Holy Word. There is absolutely nothing that this man touches that didn't turn to perfection. I'm including Spider-Man 3. There, I said it.
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Join us next wee for an edition of the Lucky 13 that will be very near and dear to my heart... as we commemorate Frank Sinatra's birthday weekend with a look at our favorite musical horror films! Ring-a-ding-ding, baby!
Week 2: Man vs. Nature
Week 3: Veteran's Day
Week 4: Thanksgiving