The earliest Hollywood horror films were RoseMary’s Baby in 1968 and The Exorcist in 1973, but haven’t we all merely developed a penchant for films about exorcism and possession since then?
The rationale, when we think about it, is fairly straightforward. These films not only introduce us to a terrifying opponent in the shape of a demonic or paranormal creature, but they also introduce us to the concept of God.
God and the spiritual components are widely accepted in today’s society, and even if we are not religious, we have faith. These films aim to evoke that same faith, giving us hope that everything is not lost.
If we acknowledge the existence of God and his angels, we must also accept the existence of the Devil and his demons. Exorcism and possession films appeal to our complex beliefs, which is why we pay money to be afraid while also trying to locate the silver lining under the darkest of demonic clouds. Let’s take a look at thirteen neglected genre films that deserve to be unearthed from the sands of time.
The Exorcist III (1990)
In the first film, Regan MacNeil was possessed by the powerful demonPazuzu and FatherDamien Karras lost his life in an attempt to save Regan. Father Dyer and Lieutenant William F. Kinderman remember Father Karras in 1990, some years after those awful events. Strange things, however, have begun to occur once more.
While several people are committing murders in the style of a serial murderer known as the Gemini Killer, who was murdered in 1975, a crucifix in one of the churches mysteriously comes to life.
Lieutenant Kinderman’s investigation leads him to Dr. Temple, the director of a psychiatric hospital, who informs Kinderman that one of his patients grew violent and began making false claims. To Kinderman’s surprise, this patient was Father Damien Karrass, who was now possessed by the ghost of the Gemini Killer.
But that’s not all because Pazuzu is exacting revenge for being exorcized by Karras fifteen years ago and is now using Karras’ body as a conduit for the Gemini Killer. Will Father Karras be able to overpower Pazuzu once again?
Writer and director William Peter Blatty depicted the Gemini Killer on the lines of the infamous Zodiac Killer. It is believed by many that the Zodiac Killer was heavily impressed by the 1973 film The Exorcist.
Naturally, the film works wonders in terms of giving you frights and chills, despite lacking projectile vomits and masturbation using a crucifix. Jason Miller efficiently brought back the grim and evil tone that was set by the first entry, making Exorcist III a haunting chiller, the horrors of which will remain with you long after the credits have rolled.
The film didn’t do as well as the original but works fine as a sequel and it’s not a surprise because director Peter Blatty is also the writer of the original Exorcist novel.
Prince of Darkness (1987)
The Brotherhood of Sleep is an ancient order that resides in a Los Angeles monastery’s basement. The Brotherhood communicates with one another through dreams, and they discover a green sentient liquid that they don’t entirely comprehend. To investigate the nature of the liquid, the head priest enlists the expertise of thirteen academics.
Academics decipher the texts around it and come to the conclusion that it is the corporeal manifestation of Satan in liquid form. Quantum physicist Howard Birack, one of the academics, explains to the group that Satan is the son of a more powerful and malevolent entity known only as Anti-God, who is locked in the realm of Anti-Matter.
Meanwhile, the sentient liquid starts to break itself loose and possess the people studying it. The survivors will have to stop the events, or else the Anti-God will walk the face of Earth.
Prince of Darkness follows in the same fashion as previous John Carpenter films, and includes themes of claustrophobia and eternal doom.Apart from directing it, Carpenter wrote the film and brilliantly merged physics with horror to give us a genre-blending film that can only be explained as a science-fiction horror. Certain scenes like the transformation of Kelly into a gruesomely disfigured being have the potential to frighten even the bravest of horror fans.
Carpenter also played intelligently with the dream sequences in the climax. Donald Pleasence as the Priest, Victor Wong as Professor Howard Birack, Susan Blanchard as Kelly, and Lisa Blount as Catherine Danforth gave better performances than the others, but the characters themselves were rather hollow. Having said that, Prince of Darkness is a well-written movie that’s simultaneously haunting, sarcastic, and humorous.
The story follows Masafumi Kobayashi, a paranormal researcher who was known for producing different movies and books regarding unexplained phenomena all around Japan. The film is shot in a semi-documentary format, and we see Kobayashi’s most recent documentary, The Curse.
He was investigating a woman named Junko Ishii after neighbors constantly heard the sounds of crying babies coming from her house. As the investigation proceeds, many people start disappearing, dying mysteriously,while others commit suicide.
A local historian named Tanimura tells Kobayashi that many years ago, the locals of a village summoned a demon called Kagutaba but later imprisoned it. They performed an annual ceremony to keep the demon captive, but the town was cleared in 1978 to build a dam, and the final ritual was performed by a priest and his daughter.
After the rite, the girl went insane, and it was assumed that she had been possessed by Kagutaba.. Later, Kobayashi finds out that Junko Ishii was that little girl, having now grown up to be a nurse who helped in illegal abortions to steal the fetuses. Will Kobayashi be able to deal with the horrid knowledge he has gained, or has his fate been sealed?
We insist that you hunt and watch this haunting Japanese film if you’re a lover of horror films or even a general movie buff. Co-writer and director KōjiShiraishi’s expertise has ensured that the film looks like a condensed version of a horror show like The X-Files or Supernatural.
Throughout the two unpleasant hours of the story, it constantly loads many stories of demons and curses while maintaining a tight and ominous atmosphere. Noroi moves at an apparently leisurely pace, yet it builds the plot masterfully to provide the audience with a very terrifying and exhilarating experience.
Noroi is without a doubt one of the best found-footage and documentary-style horror films to come out of Japan in the first decade of the twenty-first century. If you haven’t already, watch it and let us know what you think.
Linda Brewster, her ex-boyfriend Brandon Sinclair, and her present boyfriend Jim Morar use an Ouija board to summon a spirit named David. However, after Jim insults David, the spirit exits only to slash Brandon’s car’s tyres. Linda finds the Ouija board the next day and uses it to summon David once more, gradually growing addicted to it.
In truth, she is suffering from gradual entrapment, a condition in which a paranormal entity terrorises the board user to the point where they become weak and prone to possession.
Brandon seeks the assistance of a psychic medium named Zarabeth Crawford, but the evil creature will not let anybody to stand in the way of Linda. Is David, on the other hand, the source of Linda’s poor situation, or is something else at work?
Despite being a horror film, Witchboard is essentially a character-driven film. Todd Allen asJimMorar, Tawny Kitaen as Linda Brewster and Stephen Nichols as Brandon Sinclair are all extremely relatable characters.
It’s horrifying not only because of the scary ghosts and efficient special effects but also because it shows how a bromance between Jim and Brandon was affected because of Linda.
This was the first directorial effort of Kevin S. Tenney, but Tenney showed craftsmanship through some really efficient camerawork. Linda’s possession is slow and gradual, but Tenney ensured that the viewers do not get bored and are able to feel the trauma and fright that she was feeling.
Clearly, this isn’t the most original plot, and the 1980s were rife with films about ghosts stalking beautiful damsels in distress. Witchboard, on the other hand, provided a unique experience for 1980s moviegoers thanks to its effective director, writing, and performances. The film went on to become a cult classic, and in 1993 and 1995, two unrelated sequels were released.
The Devil’s Candy (2015)
Ray Smilie begins playing his guitar in a modest house in rural Texas after hearing an ominous sound. When confronted by his mother, he explains that he plays the guitar in order to avoid hearing the Devil’s voice.
Ray hears the Devil again, kills his mother, and departs. Later, the Hellman family, which includes Jesse, his wife, and their young daughter Zooey, purchases Ray’s home and moves there. Jesse had tried unsuccessfully to become a painter, but he soon began to hear the same voice that Ray uses as inspiration.
He paints grotesque murals with distorted faces of children being devoured by a demonic entity. Meanwhile, Ray has been abducting young kids, only to mutilate them and bury thecorpses in suitcases.
Jesse tells his wife about the voices that he’s been hearing and hints that he’s been possessed. But this is not the only problem for the Hellman family, as Ray is planning to get hold of young Zooey Hellman.
The Devil’s Candy is a prime and critically acclaimed example of Metalspoilation film in which heavy metal and horror form an unholy union. Writer and director Sean Byrne crafted the characters of Jesse and Ray in an intelligent fashion.
While both of them seem to be possessed by the ominous voice of the Devil, they take very different courses of action. While Ethan Embry’s Jesse struggles to understand himself, Pruitt Taylor Vince’s Ray gives himself up without struggling to become the Devil’s minion.
The Devil’s Candy has a lot of bloody elements, but it’s not a particularly violent film; instead, it’s best at suggesting awful deeds to its audience and leaving the rest to their imagination. It’s a well-made film that’s eerie, exhilarating, suspenseful, and capable of frightening both young and old.
The Last Exorcism (2010)
After losing his faith, reverend Cotton Marcus began deceiving people by performing phoney exorcisms in the hopes of one day having the ritual delegitimized. He believes that possessions are nothing more than a mental illness, and that exorcism gives sufferers the impression that they are rid of evil spirits.
He goes with filmmakers Iris and Daniel, who film the phoney exorcisms, to establish that deception can be used to treat psychiatric issues. One day, he is summoned by a farmer named Louis, who fears his daughter Nell has been possessed by the Devil.
Reverend Marcus performs his fake exorcism and believing he has cured Nell of her mental disease. Later that night, though, a visibly diseased Nell visits Marcus at his motel:the hospital says that she’s physically fit, but Nell has found herself to be pregnant.
On further investigation, disturbing facts about Nell surface. Reverend Marcus must summon his true faith in order to perform a real exorcism or else the lives of many would be in danger.
The Last Exorcism, being a documentary-style film, lacks the same intensity as Blair Witch Project and lacks enough jumpscare moments as Paranormal Activities. However, it continuously makes the spectator question if there is anything strange or otherworldly going on.
It manipulates the audience’s brains by forcing them to switch sides on a regular basis. You trust Marcus’s sensible reasoning at one point, yet a few scenes later, you find yourself praying Marcus regains his faith.
Director Daniel Stamm put in a lot of effort to string together faith, folklore and female puberty. Despite earning around $68 million and later getting a sequel, this film feels better in parts but doesn’t impress as a whole.
The Convent (2000)
Christine was a young girl who murdered every nun in a monastery and burned it down many years ago. She was, of course, committed to a mental facility. Years later, the convent has become a hangout for young college students who vandalise, consume marijuana, and occasionally engage in sexual activity.
A girl named Mo is overcome by a group of Satanists who aim to sacrifice her while looking for a stash of narcotics. However, Mo is possessed by a demon who had been lurking in the notorious abbey all along.
Meanwhile, the Satanists kidnap a young virgin boy named Brandt in order to carry out their evil scheme. The only one who can save the day is Christine, who has now grown into an adult,though she continues to harbor her dark past.
Directed by Mike Mendez, this comedy horror takes influence from both Evil Dead 2 and LambertoBava’s film Demons. It’s a decent horror flick, and contains enough scenes to make your gut churn with fear and stomach pain with laughter, but that’s about it. There’s no real message in the film and honestly, one shouldn’t look for one.
Although the special effects may have been better, the intense violence and gore more than compensate. The scenes in which the cultists stab one of the characters and then go on a rampage are brilliantly shot and elicit genuine horror. Then the comedy part comes in and soothes you, and the entire film feels like a rollercoaster of comedy and horror.
Session 9 (2001)
Gordon owns an asbestos abatement business in Massachusetts and, desperate for cash, offers to remove the asbestos from an abandoned psychiatric institution in two weeks. Mike discovers a set of nine audiotapes of sessions with a former patient called Mary Hobbes while his crew begins work at the facility..
Mary had split personality disorder, and she committed horrific cold-blooded crimes. As time goes by, the crew experiences strange events, and the horrors of Mary’s crimes seem to resurface once again.
The tape from the ninth session plays at the end of the film. In that recording, the doctor asks one of Mary’s personalities where it lives, to which she replies, “I live in the weak and the wounded, Doc.”
Although the film didn’t do well at the box office, it is often said to be inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 masterpiece The Shining. Session 9, like The Last Exorcism, perplexes the audience by blurring the boundary between mental illness and demonic possession.
Although diehard horror fans may not be surprised by the startling climax, co-writer and director Brad Anderson knows how to create suspense and thrills. Anderson added reality to the film by shooting it at the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts.
However, due credit must be given to the performances of Peter Mullan as Gordon Fleming and Josh Lucas as Hank. Despite having underwritten characters, they managed to keep the film above average on the acting front. Session 9 was given moderately positive reviews, but many consider it to be a cult classic. Let us know in the comments if you think that’s true.
Dora spent almost a year in a sanatorium after her husband Carlo, a drug-addicted and abusive man, committed suicide. She began living with her current husband, Bruno, after her release, and agreed to move into her former house, despite it being filled with Carlo’s memories.
Dora begins to observe weird incidents in the house as the days pass, but Bruno believes she is suffering another nervous breakdown and begs her to calm down. When Carlo’s ghost takes possession of her son, Marco, things reach their pinnacle. Carlo’s ghost appears to be seeking vengeance for an act committed against him in the past.
Shock is a film that fails to decide if it wants to be a psychological horror or a supernatural thriller. So, it ultimately ends up being a mix of both, which is the beauty of the film.
There’s a ghostly presence, but at no point in time do we learn whether it is paranormal and or just the character’s imagination. Bava has brought out the sinister in Marco, the character which David Colin Jr. plays, although the show is stolen by the beautiful acting of Dora’s performerDariaNicolodi.
Although the plot is not original, Bava knows how to direct a horror film and where to set the camera. Shock is the iconic Italian horror director’s final theatrical release. Because of the elder Bava’s failing health, his son Lamberto Bava directed a large portion of the film, however Lamberto is uncredited.
As a result, the film contains elements of both the father and the son. This distinguishes Shock from other games in terms of concept and content, and ensures that your time is well spent.
Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)
Luke, a young, introverted, and disturbed youngster, witnesses the aftermath of a mass shooting at a coffee shop; the occurrence disturbs him, but he meets Daniel, a confident and charming boy who was one of the bystanders.
Daniel and Luke become fast friends and spend a lot of time together playing. Luke doesn’t understand Daniel is merely his imagined friend until he consumes his mother’s full bottle of mental medication after Daniel claims it will grant him superpowers.
Luke’s mother, Claire, ordered Luke symbolically banish Daniel in a dollhouse after this incident. Years later, Luke once again finds himself burdened by emotional trouble due to his vague future, his social life and his mother’s mild schizophrenia.
Luke visits his psychiatrist but that doesn’t seem to help and he resorts to reopening the dollhouse and summoning Daniel once again. However, Daniel has now grown up and is of Luke’s age.
Naturally, he is more powerful and authoritative. Luke will now realize the reality about Daniel but shutting him back is not going to be an easy task.
Miles Robbins as Luke Nightingale and Patrick Schwarzenegger as Daniel have given tremendous performances, but there are other great aspects like the screenplay and gripping cinematography that make the film worthwhile.
Daniel Isn’t Real causes viewers to see and feel the helplessness that Luke experiences. The scenes like the one in which Daniel takes over Luke’s body to have violent sex with a girl are especially tense and grim.
Director Adam Egypt Mortimer aims to blur the boundary between an imaginary buddy and a demonic creature in this possession picture. Despite these pluses, Mortimer might have made the movie better by giving Sasha Lane and Hanna Marks more screen time.
A young, religious woman Michaela begins her studies at a German university. She has a history of epilepsy, but her condition has improved thanks to medicine. The young girl is overjoyed on her first Christmas visit home.
However, the epileptic episodes return as she spends more time there. This time, though, she believes she is being possessed by multiple otherworldly beings. Michaela soon rejects all medical treatment and insists on seeking only religious and spiritual aid.
The story is based on the true events from the life of Anneliese Michel, who died at the age of 23 on July 1st, 1976, in Bavaria, West Germany. The Psychiatric Clinic ofWurzburg diagnosed her with epilepsy and later, depression and suicidal thoughts began clouding her mind.
She would be administered various drugs for her seizures and deteriorating psychological state, but when all efforts seemed to go in vain, her parents resorted strictly to religion and exorcism by Father Arnold Renz and Pastor Ernst Alt.
The two of them carried out 67 exorcisms over a period of 10 months, with a few lasting for over four hours. Gradually, Anneliese’s condition would worsen and she would see demons in the faces of people around her.
Eventually, Anneliese stopped eating and drinking as she thought starving would dispel the evils from her body. This led to the exacerbation of her health, and she weighed only 68 pounds before she died. The court, however, found Anneliese’s parents and two priests guilty of negligent homicide and sentenced them to six months in prison.
Some suggest that she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, which led her to believe she was possessed, and that each exorcism further strengthened her delusions. Her determination to go without food for such a long time, on the other hand, raises doubts about the rational arguments.
Anna Michel claims that her daughter made the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of others. The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a 2005 film, is based on the same narrative.
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005)
During World War II, Father LankesterMerrin was forced to participate in the Nazis’ arbitrary death of numerous parishioners. Merrin’s faith was shaken by the encounter, and he decided to devote his life to archaeology.
He began supervising the excavation of a Byzantine church erected around the 5th century in British Kenya in 1947. Surprisingly, the church appears to be in good condition, as though it was buried shortly after it was built.
When Merrin and his colleagues enter, they discover that it was built on the site of a temple where human sacrifices were performed. Father Merrin befriends a physically-deformed young boy named Cheche, whom the villagers think was cursed.
Cheche becomes the obvious victim of an ancient demon that Father Merrin unknowingly released on Earth. He will have to find his faith back if he intends to save the young boy.
The film’s story is exceptionally well-written, and it seeks to expand the lore that was set by the first Exorcist film. That being said, Dominion received largely average reviews because it was released at an age when people stopped caring about Father Merrin’s backstory.
Having said that, Dominion serves equally well as a prequel to the godfather of all horror films and as an indie nightmare. Director Paul Schrader’s vision is noteworthy as he constantly brings more life and realism with each passing scene.
However, more of the monster that will eventually possess Regan MacNeil would have been welcome. The picture is courteous and, for the most part, fails to haunt viewers in the same way that the original did, but a few sequences, such as cattle consuming hyena corpses or the one with the mutilated bodies of two British troops, heighten the suspense.
The audience realises Schrader’s abstract yet simple concept of evil in these sequences. Liam Neeson is a British actor who is well known for his role was supposed to play Father Merrin but the veteran StellanSkarsgård did exceptionally well, and we have no reason to complain.
A mystery man invites a bunch of strangers to see a movie in a secluded, newly restored theatre. The film being shown is a highly violent horror film about a gang of young boys attempting to dig up the grave of Nostradamus, a sixteenth-century fortune-teller.
Soon after, the events of the film begin to play out in real life, and one of the moviegoers transforms into a demon with the ability to infect others. When they try to flee, they discover that the sole way out has been barred. Will the captive men and women be able to escape?
Director Lamberto Bava made this film with a delicate mix of Italian flamboyance and pronounced horror, topped with a layer of gore and mystery. The film has an unusual setting alongside murders that never let you get bored.
The only flaw is probably the over-the-top gore and carnage because, after a point of time, the viewers feel numb towards them, and the horror element takes a backseat while nausea rears its ugly head.
Apart from that, Demons sticks to the core substance of possession, and Bava’s cinematic style makes up for other flaws.