2. The Exorcist
This one may not even count because I don’t think many people even remember the other films in the series, but the hell with it. The first Exorcist film remains one of best horror films of all time. There was no Pazuzu stuff, Regan wasn’t psychic or whatever. It was just a little girl and the freaking Devil.
But it’s more than that, too. It’s about the child of divorced parents, raised by a nanny while her mother cavorts around with fellow actors. It’s about doctors who are unable, with all the medical science available to them, come up with a diagnosis that isn’t “holy shit, demons!” The only thing able to save her? Good old religion. In a lot of ways, The Exorcist really presents a very old-fashioned, practically Conservative idea of a horror story. The broken family unit, science unable to find the answers, Jesus saves the day. It’s like a Tea Party wishlist. It’s hard not to make the movie sound cynical in today’s political climate, but I think the reason why it works is because of our cultural fear that maybe, no matter how much we progress, there are still some problems that we just can’t solve. Not without dipping into the old ways we thought we, as a society, had left behind (those of us who aren’t Michele Bachmann, anyway).