Our look back at "The Exorcist" opening in Omaha had some strong "I was there!"-type reactions.
So I thought I'd look back at a few more classic horror films and what The World-Herald thought of them when they were first released.
History shouldn't judge us too harshly on these reviews, although we were lukewarm on "The Shining" and we downright panned "Silence of the Lambs" in '91.
Here are the reviews, with a few ads sprinkled in because Happy Halloween and what not.
"Silence of the Lambs"
1991 review by Jim Delmont / World-Herald staff writer
This is one gruesome movie. Why a talented director such as Jonathan Demme ("Melvin and Howard," "Miami Blues") would want to make "The Silence of the Lambs" is a mystery. It has almost no entertainment value and is not even a true crime story. The dismal true - crime genre, so prominent in entertainment and book publishing these days, would have called for a real life story. "Silence" is based on a novel by Thomas Harris, in which the author combined details from many murders and serial killings to create a story with two monsters - psycho killers - one in prison and one outside.
The chief personality among the two belongs to the imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lector ("Hannibal the cannibal"), played with overkill intensity by Anthony Hopkins. Lector once was a well - known psychiatrist, according to the story, but Hopkins plays him as such a leering madman that one glance would have emptied his waiting room. Lector has to be separated from other people because, given half a chance, he'll lunch on their faces.
The other psycho, busy killing and flaying plump young women, is a demented transvestite, mutilated in a sex - change operation. He (she) consols himself by making lampshades out of his victims' skin.
For reasons never explained, a young female FBI trainee (Jodie Foster) is chosen to wheedle some advice and help from Lector, suspected of knowing who the other psycho may be. Lector takes a liking to young Clarice Starling, the trainee, and does help, while scheming to arrange his own escape so that he can go back to making stew of census takers and other unsuspecting people.
Jodie Foster is quite good as Miss Starling, complete with West Virginia accent. She gives an intense, believable performance under the circumstances.
And what circumstances they are! When Miss Starling visits Lector in prison, the sex lunatic in the next cell hurls unmentionable fluid at her face. She ends up being stalked by the transvestite in a house of horrors he has created for his victims. She also has to attend an FBI autopsy on the mangled corpse of one of the victims.
Also impressive in this generally miserable film is Scott Glenn as Miss Starling's superior officer in the FBI.
The plot is contrived - full of unlikely slips in police security - and you can see the two - locale climax coming a mile away. Without showing any nasty details, Alfred Hitchcock packed twice as much tension and excitement into his "Psycho" 32 years ago.
"The Silence of the Lambs" is hoked - up, brutal cinema guilty of cruelty to the viewer. It deserves an NC - 17 rating.
Rated R, "Silence of the Lambs" is playing at Westroads 8, Q - Cinema 9, Cinema Center, South Cinema 7 and Mall of the Bluffs Theaters.
"The Sixth Sense"
1999 review by Bob Fischbach / World-Herald staff writer
The Hollywood marketing boys have screwed it up again with a misleading trailer. Only this time, instead of selling a bad film in a way that makes it seem like something it isn't, they've sold a good movie short. If you've seen the previews for "The Sixth Sense," perhaps you thought as I did: Oh, great. Another scary action movie where Bruce Willis rescues a little kid. Didn't he just do that in a movie last year? The one about the autistic kid who cracked a government code and his parents got murdered?
Well, other than a vulnerable kid and a sympathetic Willis, who this time plays Dr. Malcolm Crowe, the child's psychiatrist, this movie has little in common with "Mercury Rising."
"The Sixth Sense" is a psychological thriller that, unlike most scary movies, goes for the heart as well as the throat. It boasts a clever plot and well - written script by its director, M. Night Shyamalan. He draws you in with characters you care about, then keeps you engrossed with a tantalizing puzzle to solve.
And if you see this ending coming, hats off to you.
I thought the movie was wrapping up 15 minutes before it ended, and those final 15 minutes deliver not only an "Oh my gosh" surprise but a human warmth so touching it will bring out some handkerchiefs.
On top of that, "The Sixth Sense" is full of first - rate acting. Haley Joel Osment, in his first film, is superb as Trevor, a sensitive and tortured little boy who cannot tell his recently divorced mom the secret that is consuming him. This kid grabs you with the intensity and reality of what he's feeling.
Toni Collette, as the boy's anguished mother, shows new range in a serious role so different from her comedic turn in "Muriel's Wedding," you may not recognize her. She telegraphs wordlessly her desperation to help the child she loves but cannot reach.
Olivia Williams, as Anna, the lonely wife of Dr. Crowe, is beautiful and subtle in the emotional shadings of a difficult role. Former New Kid on the Block Donnie Wahlberg, as a former patient who turns up again in Crowe's life as an adult, pulls out all the stops in his one brief scene, and it works. Bruce Norris is also excellent as Trevor's teacher.
Willis, who has a bigger - than - life star persona to get past, is so up to the task that even great fans of his (I'm not one) will forget he was ever in the "Die Hard" series or "Moonlighting." A combination of vulnerability and reserve add strength and emotional impact to this shrink, who is determined not to fail his patient.
By the end, your heart is likely to go out to Willis, the wife, the mom and especially the kid. After a spate of high - tech summer action flicks and brain - dead teen movies, I can't remember the last time I cared about four characters at the end of a movie.
It's a notch above in many respects - even the cinematography, which shows off Philadelphia beautifully.
Scary? Sometimes. Even gross - out gory for brief moments, but PG - 13 seems the right rating.
Leave the pre - high school kids home.
But take that hanky.