(Publication date:  Oct. 31, 2003)

Nightmare on Your Street

The other day I got immersed in an issue of the movie magazine Premiere, after I’d powered
through, you know, the latest
Utne Reader and Co-evolution Quarterly. I stumbled on an article in
which Ken Kirzinger, the guy who plays Jason Voorhees in the slash-‘em-up pas de deux
Freddy vs.
, makes his picks for the top ten greatest horror films of all time. I won’t leave you dangling--
here they are:  10.
The Sixth Sense   9. Sleepy Hollow  8.  Alien   7. The Abominable Dr. Phibes   6.
Creature from the Black Lagoon   5. An American Werewolf in London   4. The Fly (1958 version)    
A Nightmare on Elm Street   2. Jaws.  And his #1 greatest horror movie of all time…The Texas
Chain Saw Massacre

Robert Englund plays Freddy Krueger, Jason’s worthy opponent in
Freddy vs. Jason. (If, like me,
you have trouble keeping your cinematic mass murderers straight, Freddy is the one who needs to
get over to Solano Avenue immediately for a manicure.) In the same article, Englund is asked to name
the perfect horror movie and I thought he drove a stake right into the heart of the matter when he
Rosemary’s Baby, an excellent thriller for any day of the year, really, with the possible
exception of Easter Sunday.

In this one, Mia Farrow plays a young wife who wants to get pregnant in the worst way, and does.
Subsequently, she goes through the C-section from Hell, thereby topping every delivery room story
you’ve ever told your book group. In case you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t give away who the
father is, but let’s just say he’s not the leader of your son’s Boy Scout troup, at least not that I know

Maybe you’ve had the squirmy experience of gazing at a friend’s (or worse, your sister’s) newborn,
thinking that the precious bundle actually looks a little like your Halloween pumpkin on about
November 17th, and groping for something sunny to say. Imagine your predicament if the baby were
Rosemary’s. I suppose you could always fall back on, “He has his father’s eyes,” which is, in fact,
what one of the adoring warlocks says at the end of the movie as everyone stands around the
fashionably black-draped cradle at the big birthday party, swirling the olives in their vodka martinis.

I think
Rosemary’s Baby is one of director Roman Polanski’s best, so thumbs (or pick the severed
appendage of your choice) up from me on that choice. To find out what the rest of Albany thinks, I
walked up Solano to the town meeting hall, sometimes erroneously called Five Star Video. I found
Mike behind the counter, and I asked him to name the biggest Halloween attractions in the shop.
“Well, the original
Halloween is number one,” he replied.  “And the other one that’s always checked
out at this time of year is
The Exorcist.”  I asked him to name the scariest movie he’d ever seen.
Mike knows his flicks, so I was all ears, and happy that both were attached. “
Texas Chain Saw
,” he replied. “Everyone has the wrong idea about that movie. Very little blood.”  True, and
a nice assortment of manly chainsaws, appealing to the urban lumberjack in all of us.

So, our Halloween chart-toppers are worthy fright-fests all. But I was amazed that everyone skipped
over what is to me, and to most guys I know, the most alarming horror movie of all time—
English Patient
. The thought of having to suffer through that baby again is one of the scariest things
I know.

Life Is a Movie