Wednesday, May 15, 2024



“Fortune and glory…”


This month marks the 40th anniversary of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM. 


Directed by Steven Spielberg and created by George Lucas, TEMPLE OF DOOM was the second cinematic adventure of swashbuckling archeologist Indiana Jones, as played by Harrison Ford…after making his debut in 1981 in the magnificent RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. 


As the follow-up to one of the best films of all time, TEMPLE OF DOOM surprised audiences by striking a different, hellish tone. Where RAIDERS had Indy chasing Biblical artifacts and punching Nazi’s to great audience delight, DOOM went much darker…traveling to India to battle a bloodthirsty black-magic cult which used children as slaves. Executive producer and story writer George Lucas would set the film before the events of RAIDERS, making it a prequel. The darker tone would be attributed to both Lucas and Spielberg going through respective divorces at the time. 


Going further in distancing itself from the whimsy and fun of RAIDERS, the female lead was made to be the opposite of the whiskey-drinking, right-hook throwing Marion. Indy was paired with a new character named Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw), who was as out of place in the jungle as a fish out of water. To balance things, Indy was also paired with a child sidekick, named Short Round (Ke Huy Quan). The rest of the cast would be filled out by Amrish Puri, Roshan Seth, and Philip Stone. Dan Aykroyd makes a quick cameo.


The script was penned by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, and filming took place in Kandy, Sri Lanka. John Williams provided the score, which included a musical number in the beginning. Lucas’ wizards at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), would handle the visual effects. 


Despite being the first film in history to earn a PG-13 rating, TEMPLE OF DOOM would be a box office hit, and would finish as the third-highest grossing film in North America, behind BEVERLY HILLS COP and GHOSTBUSTERS. At the 57th Academy Awards, John Williams would be nominated for his score, and ILM would win for Best Visual Effects. A sequel, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE, would follow in 1989. 




TEMPLE OF DOOM is indeed a dark film, but the whimsy of RAIDERS is still present due to some thrilling set-pieces including a mine-car chase, a fight in a swanky night club, and a breathtaking, climactic showdown on a suspended bridge. The witty one-liners by Short Round are some of the most memorable and often quoted in the series, and John Williams’ score stands as one of his best works. 


But the real legacy of TEMPLE OF DOOM comes from its importance in developing the character of Indiana Jones. As a prequel, it has the task of taking a younger Indy, who is more of a treasure hunter this time, and moving him towards the archeologist we meet in RAIDERS. Indy’s turn from seeking fortune and glory to saving enslaved children is one of the best moments in all of the Indy films, and is one of the few major turning points for the character through his five films. INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM does everything that a good sequel should do: smash expectations, further the character, and deliver one hell of an adventure. 


“You call him Doctor Jones, doll!”

Friday, May 10, 2024


The first three films in the rejuvenated, hi-quality PLANET OF THE APES franchise followed the rise of Caesar, the first super-intelligent, speaking ape and leader of a revolution that would free his kind and lead to the downfall of the human race. The newest and fourth film in the franchise, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, boldly takes place 300 years after the death of Caesar, setting the stage for a new slate of stories. 


Apes rule the world and humans are nearly extinct or feral. During this time, Noa (Owen Teague), sees his clan and family wiped out by a warring clan of apes led by Proximus (Kevin Durand), who are hunting a young human girl called Nova (Freya Allan), who is one of the few humans left who can speak. 


Directed by Wes Ball, KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is picking up the pieces left by the first three films while exploring what may come next for apes and humans. Noa is on a mission of revenge and in search of a way to restore his clan, while Nova seems to have other ideas in helping her fellow humans. Proximus hunts Nova for her intelligence and possible help in obtaining some hidden human tech left behind centuries ago, and KINGDOM mostly unfolds as a massive chase film. 


The legacy of Caesar, whose teachings have either become lost in time or warped by Proximus’ want for power, turns the once-leader into nearly a myth. KINGDOM explores this lightly, but it is mostly set aside for standard blockbuster spectacle. While that spectacle does deliver in sight and sound, we can’t help but to feel there is a missed opportunity for something deeper. 


Where KINGDOM may go light on depth, it goes heavy on visuals. The apes and their surroundings look spectacular, and the human-qualities that the apes have to show emotion really work. World-building is done very well, with traditions of the different clans and state of the world fleshed out nicely. The score by John Paesano is excellent. 


The motion-capture work here allows the actors to really turn their ape characters into characters. Owen Teague does very well here as Noa. The show is stolen by Freya Allan who is a revelation. 


KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES doesn’t resolve a whole lot as far as the big picture is concerned; at the end the apes still rule, and humans are still in the trees. But the apes finish with a new perspective and the humans have some new hope for survival…which means we are probably due for more APES movies to tell this story despite being four deep now. That’s okay, as long as this quality keeps up. 



Monday, May 6, 2024


“Anakin Skywalker, meet Obi-Wan Kenobi.”

This month marks the 25th anniversary of George Lucas’ STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE. 


During the run of the original STAR WARS trilogy (1977-1983), series creator George Lucas spoke often of the saga eventually becoming six to nine films. But in the early 1990’s, things were quiet. STAR WARS had been out of theatres for a decade, with light merchandising and Expanded Universe novels and comics exploring events after RETURN OF THE JEDI. But in 1997, Lucas re-released the Original Trilogy into theatres, with a few edits and enhancements, as a test-run to see if the public still remembered or cared about that far, far away galaxy. The results were outstanding, and Lucas set to begin a new trilogy of films; a trilogy that would explore the backstory of the Old Republic, the Clone Wars, the fall of the Jedi, and the rise of Darth Vader; events merely mentioned in the Original Trilogy. 


The writing for EPISODE I actually began in 1994, and it was adapted from Lucas’ 15-page outline that he had written for STAR WARS in 1976. With a large budget and new special effects called CGI at his disposal, he was able to write and think grander; doing things that no STAR WARS movie had done before. These new ventures would include a massive pod-race, CGI characters, and large set-pieces ranging from underwater cities, grassy plains, and exotic cities. 


The film was taking place 30 years before the events of STAR WARS, but characters from the Original Trilogy were able to be brought back…and the film benefitted from the original actors being available to reprise their roles. Ian McDiarmid returned as Palpatine; the man destined to become Emperor. He was joined by Frank Oz (Yoda), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), and Kenny Baker (R2-D2). Newcomers to the STAR WARS galaxy included Ewan McGregor as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi, veteran actor Liam Neeson as a Jedi Master, Natalie Portman as the Queen of Naboo and eventual mother to Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, and eight-year-old Jake Lloyd would play Anakin Skywalker; the boy who would grow up to become Darth Vader. Other cast members included Pernilla August, Samuel L. Jackson, Ray Park, Terence Stamp, Keira Knightley, and Ahmed Best…who would play Jar Jar Binks…the first ever CGI character in history. 


Filming took place in Italy, Hertfordshire, and Tunisia, where the first STAR WARS was filmed. THE PHANTOM MENACE would break new ground in visual effects, with over 1,900 of the shots in the film requiring CGI. LucasFilm would use old and new techniques to bring it to life; combining old-school models and brand-new CGI effects. John Williams returned to provide the score. 


THE PHANTOM MENACE would be met with mixed reviews from critics and fans, but was still a box office smash and broke many records at the time. It would finish as the third-highest grossing film of all time behind TITANIC (1997), and STAR WARS; a position it would hold until 2009. It was nominated for three Oscars; Best Sound Effects Editing, Visual Effects, and Best Sound. 




Today, THE PHANTOM MENACE is looked at with vile by many fans, only half of which is deserved.  The film had issues in pacing, acting, dialogue, and Jar Jar Binks with his over-the-top comedy was not received well. But the positives are many; the pod-race and other action set-pieces were fantastic and brought us something new, and the epic lightsaber battle near the end…fought by three combatants…was not only fresh but finally showed us fully-trained Jedi and Sith in their prime. The production design was sleek and gorgeous, and John Williams’ score ranks as one of his best. Jar Jar may be looked upon with hate today, but without him, the industry would never have moved forward with other CGI characters such as Rocket and Groot, Gollum, the apes from the new PLANET OF THE APES films, and Jim Cameron’s AVATAR. 


THE PHANTOM MENACE had a task of setting the stage for a new STAR WARS trilogy, and it was also made to bring in new fans. The older fans may rebel against the decisions made, but the newer ones look at it as their gateway to STAR WARS. That, and the many seeds planted by Lucas, which spread into the rest of the saga, gives the film a lasting legacy.  

“Your apprentice, Skywalker will be.”

Read Reel Speak's ranking of the STAR WARS films HERE 



Wednesday, May 1, 2024

A Reel Preview: The Year in Film 2024 - Episode V

When Steven Spielberg unleashed JAWS on the world in May of 1975, he started a cultural tradition for the fifth month of the year. From 1975 on, the month of May would be packed with cinematic adventures that were fun, audience-pleasing, and nothing short of riding a roller coaster. Here’s what’s rolling our way for the big screen this month: 




THE FALL GUY – Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman and Emily Blunt plays his film director in this action comedy based on the 1980’s TV series. The cast also includes Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and it is directed by David Leitch…co-director of JOHN WICK (2014), and DEADPOOL 2 (2018). 




STAR WARS EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE – The first episode of the Star Wars Saga returns to theatres for its 25th (!) anniversary. 




KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APES – the fourth film in the new APES franchise, which started back in 2011. Taking place 300 years after the events of WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES from 2017. 




BACK TO BLACK – A biopic about the late singer Amy Winehouse, played by Marisa Abela. 




IF – IMAGINARY FRIEND – Ryan Reynolds stars in this comedy about a man and his young neighbor who are the only ones who can see everyone’s imaginary friends. The packed voice-cast of imaginary friends includes Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Jon Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Richard Jenkins, Awkwafina, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, and the late great Louis Gossett, Jr. 




THE STRANGERS: CHAPTER 1 – Renny Harlin, director of DIE HARD 2 (1990), and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 (1988), returns to the big screen with this horror film in the STRANGERS franchise, where a stranded young couple are terrorized by masked, murderous strangers. 




FURIOSA: A MAD MAX SAGA – The spinoff and prequel to the acclaimed MAD MAX: FURY ROAD from 2015, with Anya Taylor-Joy taking on the role of a young Furiosa. She is joined by Chris Hemsworth, and George Miller returns to direct. 




THE GARFIELD MOVIE – Garfield the orange cat returns to cinemas in this animated comedy, this time voiced by Chris Pratt. Samuel L. Jackson provides the voice of Garfield’s long-lost father. 





Next month, Reel Speak previews the month of June. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024


April may be exiting stage-right, but there is still time to celebrate the 20th anniversary of two films released 20 years ago this month: Guillermo del Toro’s HELLBOY and Quentin Tarantino’s KILL BILL VOL. 2. 


Releasing first was HELLBOY. 

Based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name, this blend of the superhero, fantasy, and horror genre followed the adventures of Hellboy, a demon turned paranormal investigator fighting to save the world. The film was adapted mostly from HELLBOY’s debut comic, Seed of Destruction, and was written by its director, Guillermo del Toro. Guillermo was a perfect match for the material, having been a fan of horror and fantasy and was recently coming off a hit; his superhero/horror blend, BLADE II from 2002. Ron Perlman and his chin took on the lead role, and he was joined by Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, Rupert Evans, and the late great John Hurt. David Hyde Pierce provided voicework in an uncredited role. 


Upon release, HELLBOY would be a box office hit and earn good reviews. It would be nominated for four Saturn Awards, winning one (Best Make-Up). It would spawn a sequel: HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY in 2008. 


Just a couple of weeks later, came the martial arts film KILL BILL VOL. 2 by Quentin Tarantino. 


VOL. 2 was the second of the two KILL BILL films which were made simultaneously, with VOL. 1 releasing six months earlier. It was originally set for a one film with a runtime of over four hours, but was later divided and re-edited into two films. 


The sequel, like its predecessor, was conceived as a multi-genre film, combining martial arts, blaxploitation, spaghetti westerns, and grindhouse cinema. It followed a tale of revenge, with a character mostly known as The Bride, seeking revenge against her would-be killers…led by Bill. The role of The Bride would go to Uma Thurman, and she would be backed up and bloodied by David Carradine (Bill), Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, and Michael Parks. The score would be a collection of tracks across musical genres, including country music and Spaghetti Western scores from Ennio Morricone. 


On release, KILL BILL VOL. 2 would earn good reviews and be a box office hit. It would be nominated for several awards at the Golden Globes, Empire Awards, and Saturn Awards. 




Twenty years ago this month, we were treated to two films that stretched across nearly every genre of cinema. HELLBOY dove deep into myth, provided scares, and gave us a unique cinematic hero that was funny and relatable. KILL BILL VOL. 2 had the characteristics of a yarn from the Old West, while dipping its toes (quite deeply), into samurai lore. One was fantasy, the other was something could very well have happened in our reality. And both were helmed by filmmakers who were both in their groove. 


Guillermo del Toro was not only coming off a hit with BLADE II, but he was refining his skills playing with gods and monsters; skills that would lead him to his masterful, Oscar-nominated PAN’S LABYRINTH in 2006, and his eventual Best Picture winner, THE SHAPE OF WATER in 2017. And in HELLBOY, his learning of the strange and unusual could be seen on the screen. He gave monsters human traits, and made them actual characters instead of the old things that go bump in the night. Guillermo turned the tables on what we expected, and that’s what great filmmakers do. 


Quentin Tarantino was coming off a splatter-fest in KILL BILL VOL. 1, and audiences expected much of the same in VOL. 2. But here was where Tarantino’s maturity, and skill as a storyteller and filmmaker rose to the top. Instead of another hack-em-up flick, VOL. 2 slowed things down and became a character study; looking at damaged characters in self-exile, operating independently, and mulling over the fine line between life and death. VOL. 2 smashed expectations, which is what all great sequels should do. 



Wednesday, April 17, 2024

A Reel Opinion: The Top 10 Best Biblical Films

Last week, Reel Speak came down the mountain with the Top 10 Best Films about the Devil written in stone by fire (read it HERE). Since evil cannot exist without good, that devilish blog could only be followed up with another stone tablet: The Top 10 Best Biblical Films. 


The Bible has been a source of inspiration for millions across centuries, and has also done the job on film; telling tales of faith, love, hope, and basic good vs. evil. Even to the non-believers the stories are known, and can make for easy cinema. Some of the earliest Bible films go back to 1903 with a French production of SAMSON AND DELIAH, which would ignite a slew of Bible-based films from 1909 to 1911. Over the decades, the Bible has had its stories adapted straight-up for the screen, but have also served as the basis for alternate tellings of the old stories. Darren Aronofsky is a prime example of this, with his MOTHER! (2017), and NOAH (2014), telling those old stories in new skins. Comedy has taken a few pages out of the Good Book as well, with Mel Brooks’ HISTORY OF THE WORLD PART I (1981), and BRUCE ALMIGHTY (2003), generating laughs. For this list, the best films are the ones that explore faith using the themes, characters, and stories to the best cinematic experience. 




In the beginning…








This 199-minute epic by George Stevens is far from the greatest movie ever made; in fact, it was lambasted by critics at the time. But its ambition is impressive, telling the story of Jesus from the Nativity to the crucifixion. Despite its length it is concise and gets the message of Jesus across, and is a good film for kids as an intro to Bible stories. Max von Sydow plays Christ in a memorable turn. 







The first Dreamworks picture to win an Oscar and would eventually be considered to be one of the best animated films of all time. The story of Moses is told from the foretelling of his coming and his receiving of the Ten Commandments in stunning animation and an impressive voice cast: Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin, and Martin Short. 




8. BARABBAS (1961)


The late great Anthony Quinn plays Barabbas, the criminal who was freed so Jesus could be crucified. This is a journey of faith story, as Barabbas wrestles with believing in a higher power after Jesus rises. This showcases some impressive cinematography for its time, which filmed an actual solar eclipse to recreate the crucifixion darkness. The supporting cast is also excellent; Jack Palance, Arthur Kennedy, and Silvana Mangano. 






Before Norman Jewison made icons out of Cher and Nic Cage in MOONSTRUCK in 1987, he helmed this acclaimed adaptation of the 1970 rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The film centers around the conflict between Jesus and Judas; familiar territory brought to energetic and emotional life in a musical setting. 






Stories of the crucifixion get a lot of attention on the big screen, so it’s refreshing to see one of the lesser-known tales be unspooled. This 1951 epic by Henry King follows the life of King David and his relationship with Bathsheba, who is married to another man. One of the many highlights of the film is the showdown with Goliath, played by Lithuanian wrestler Walter Talun. Gregory Peck is excellent as David. 




5. NOAH (2014)


On the surface, this masterful work by visionary director Darren Aronofsky looks like an alternate tale of the great flood that dipped into the sci-fi and fantasy genre. But Aronofsky goes deeper, working in hidden items from the Bible to create a stunning and often-times mind-boggling cinematic experience. Deep faith is explored, and the emotional punch near the end really lands. Russell Crowe takes on the role of Noah, and Emma Watson steps out of her wizards robes for the first time in an impressive, grown-up role.  






Willem Dafoe plays Jesus and Barbara Hershey plays Mary Magdalene in this Martin Scorsese film that earned him a Best Director nomination. Temptation is in the title and hangs heavily over the film, as Jesus is tempted by lust and fear. Controversial for its time as it didn’t stick to the Biblical narrative but instead explored spiritual conflict. Scorsese was telling us that Jesus was still a man, which makes his eventual suffering all the more powerful. 



3. BEN-HUR (1959)


William Wyler’s massive film that would win a then-record 11 Oscars including Best Picture. Charlton Heston plays the title character living just outside of the comings and deeds of Jesus, which drives his character and gives us new perspective of the familiar story. The spectacle is outstanding even by today’s action-film standards, with the chariot race still standing tall as one of the greatest scenes of all time. 





Mel Gibson’s bold and uncompromising look at the final hours of Jesus which would go on to become the highest-grossing Christian film of all time. The blood and brutality of the crucifixion is relentless, but there is an odd beauty to it as Gibson dives into committed faith and a touching mother/son story, and the cinematography gives us images that look like they floated off a Vatican painting. It is hard to watch in places but the power can be felt. This Blogger’s personal favorite of the Ten. 






Famed director Cecil B. DeMille’s astounding 220-minute epic telling the Book of Exodus, starting with the birth and exile of Moses, his deliverance of the Hebrews out of slavery, and his receiving of the Ten Commandments. Boasting some of the most impressive visual effects of its time (which still hold up today), THE TEN COMMANDMENTS boldly shows the power of God in great cinematic spectacle, and over the years the film has become a traditional Easter holiday viewing. The stone tables that Moses would receive would be the basis for all faith, which is appropriate, as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS is the basis for all Biblical films. So let it be written, so let it be done. 




  3. BEN-HUR
  5. NOAH

Thanks to Mollie Halpern, friend of Reel Speak, for suggesting this blog. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

A Reel Review: CIVIL WAR

For any large-scale film, world-building is essential. In 1977, George Lucas told us that the Empire was evil in the first 10 seconds and that was all we needed. In 2001, Peter Jackson summed up the history of Middle-Earth in an extended prologue that would set the stage for the coming trilogy. For Alex Garland and his CIVIL WAR, world-building is also essential, but is done non-traditional. 


In the near future, America is in the midst of a multi-party civil war, centered around a dictatorship under its corrupt President. Renowned war-photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst), her colleague Joel (Wagner Moura), newspaper reporter Sammy (Stephen McKinley Henderson), and young budding photographer Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), decide to travel to Washington, D.C., to try and interview the elusive and secluded President. 


Written and directed by Alex Garland, CIVIL WAR unfolds as an episodic war film, as the group of journalists travel from New York to D.C., taking a roundabout way through Pennsylvania and West Virginia due to highways being closed off or destroyed. The goal is simple; get to the Capital, interview the President. Along the way they are caught in firefights from the two sides, make friends, meet enemies, and barely escape with their lives more than once. 


The background of how the (ahem) United States got to this point is revealed piecemeal; there is no prologue or endless opening title-cards telling us how the war started. Instead, Garland leaves clues and hints here and there like breadcrumbs...leaving the audience to piece it together ourselves. On paper, it’s brilliant, and in hindsight, it hits hard. But during the telling it can be confusing; trying to figure out who is on what side is never clear. 


Garland is not shy about making a statement on American politics and the threats of seceding States and wanna-be dictatorships. The President speaks in endless adjectives and tough-guy terms, constructs a wall around the White House, and has his troops interrogating prisoners with questions like “what kind of American are you”. It’s on-the-nose, and it is scary. 


When CIVIL WAR gets into its war, it is unmatched. Garland drops us right in the middle of the action, with gun blasts really FUCKING LOUD and an incredible sound-mix that will have audiences ducking for cover. It’s realistic (soldiers run out of ammo, move slowly when advancing), and harrowing. As a shoot-em-up, it makes DIE HARD look like a cartoon. Tension is ramped up very well, and the usage of classic rock cuts are perfect. 


Also perfect is the acting. Kirsten Dunst puts in one of her best performances, and she is matched well with Wagner Moura. Stephen McKinley Henderson does a lot of heavy lifting, and Jesse Plemons makes a cameo in a very tense scene. The show is stolen by Cailee Spaeny. 


The finale and final battle consists of one hell of an assault on the White House and it’s fascist President, and is hard to watch in places. By the time the smoke clears, a lot comes together…and it’s only after the credits start to roll that we start to put the pieces together. CIVIL WAR does its share of world building, but Garland just asks us to do the work. 



Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A Reel Opinion: The Top 10 Best Devilish Films

When the conversation moves to the best cinematic villains, most of us immediately go for Darth Vader, Kahn, or the Joker. Oddly enough, the ultimate evil, the Prince of Darkness and lord of hell, the Devil…often gets overlooked. This month, the horned-one is back on the big screen in THE FIRST OMEN (read Reel Speak’s review HERE), which is a prequel to the classic THE OMEN from 1976. With the biggest bad of them all back creating terror, it is hot time for Reel Speak’s Top 10 Best Devilish Films.  


For the most part, Hollywood has done good work in portraying the Devil in other forms aside from the children’s-book version of horns, tails, and pitchforks. He has appeared as men, women, beast, and children. Some of the earliest versions came in the 1922 silent horror-essay HAXAN, and the 1926 silent fantasy FAUST. Despite his obvious horror roots, he has jumped into other genres, including comedy, and even animation with Disney playing with the Devil more than once. The most hellish films are the ones that portray the Devil in his purest form; seductive, tricky, hidden, and evil. To qualify for the list, the Devil must have a strong presence in the film so that the movie could not exist without the character, and it must take place in a real-world setting...because that's where the Beast is at his best. 





So, let’s go to hell…





10. OH GOD! YOU DEVIL! (1984)


Comedy legend George Burns starred in this nearly-forgotten trilogy of films which was capped with Burns playing the role of both God and the Devil. The plot is simple (a struggling musician sells his soul for fortune and glory), but Burns gives it more than one layer. His trademark cigar is perfectly placed, and the red-eye effect he sports is enough to scare anyone. Burns would win a Saturn Award for his performance, at 88 years old. 




9. THE PROPHECY (1995)

Before Viggo Mortensen was crowned King, he was dazzling and chilling in his portrayal of Satan in this fantasy thriller. The film itself got panned hard by critics upon release, but it does have some great moments…and is worth it just for Viggo. Not to mention the excellent supporting cast of Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, and Adam Goldberg. 






The Eighties were pretty hot on the Devil, and in 1987 they scored the hottest casting of them all when they brought in Jack Nicholson to play the part. George Miller of MAD MAX fame directed this comedy where three women (Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon), get entangled with the Devil (Jack). It is funny and creepy, and reminds us that the Devil likes to seduce.  




Some of the best depictions of the Devil come in unexpected forms. Mel Gibson gave him feminist qualities in his THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004), but before that, Martin Scorsese presented the fallen angel in the form of a little girl…posing as Christ’s guardian angel. This stroke of genius played with the old saying: that the greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing us he didn’t exist. 




6. BEDAZZLED (2000)

The late great Harold Ramis directed this re-adaptation of the Faust tale. Similar to THE PROPHECY, this romantic comedy wasn’t exactly considered to be high art in its time, but it survives thanks to its portrayal of the Devil. This time, Elizabeth Hurley takes on the role, granting a shy man (future Oscar winner Brendan Fraser), seven wishes in exchange for his soul. Hurley is smoking hot here, and together with Fraser, they keep the film afloat and remind us of the many ways the Devil can come for us. 




5. THE OMEN (1976)

This horror classic helmed by Richard Donner was more about the Anti-Christ, but the Number of the Beast hangs heavily over the film. The Devil is coming, and the threat of his arrival is just as scary as him sitting next to us. 





This adaptation of the 1936 short story also deals with the theme of a deal with the Devil, and despite its age, holds up to today’s standards. The film sports some dazzling special effects for its time, and Walter Huston’s performance as Satan chills to the bone. 




3. THE WITCH (2015)

Robert Eggers delivered this folk-horror film where a Puritan family on a secluded farm encounter supernatural forces. The Devil hangs around as a beast in disguise this time, and most of the film isn’t about what we see but we don’t see, and it scares just as much as it un-nerves. But most of all, it lets us know that the Prince of Darkness is an elemental part of this world. 





Keanu Reeves plays a young lawyer who begins working for a prestigious law firm in New York City, which is led by a John Milton (Al Pacino), who is nonother than the Devil himself. Packed with twists and turns, the last 20 minutes of the film contain an extended monologue from Pacino that truly sells the idea of what the Devil is up to…and it may not be so bad. He’s a fan of man who has nurtured all of our desires. It’s a script worthy of debate and the basis for many a college term paper. This Blogger’s favorite of the list. 




1. THE EXORCIST (1973)

This may seem like the obvious and easy choice, but it’s obvious and easy for many good reasons. First off, the Devil is usually equated with horror films, and THE EXORCIST still stands as one of the best, if not the best of its genre. Centered around a young girl (Linda Blair), who is possessed by the Devil, the film shows just how evil the dark one can be; making her bark, drool, spit, float above her covers…and play all sorts of tricks on everyone (Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn), trying to save the girl. As a horror film it definitely shocks and scares, but what it says about the Devil is what really gets under our skin: he doesn’t want to kill us, he wants to get us.