The Roman Polanski horror movie everyone knows and loves is, of course, Rosemary's Baby
(and to some extent The Ninth Gate
, except for the "loves" part, though I think that one gets a bad rap). But the seriously scary Polanski film that is criminally underseen -- though generally appreciated by those who see it -- is his 1996 effort Repulsion
, the first movie in his "apartment trilogy" that would conclude with Baby
and The Tenant
. Certainly it's the scariest movie about sex that you'll ever see, putting Teeth
to shame. (Any other contenders?) A character study that gradually reveals a very disturbed psyche, it's super-creepy in insinuating, unconventional ways. (Remember the constantly ticking clock in Rosemary's Baby
? It's here too. And mysterious bells. And sometimes the sound just cuts out...)
If you've never seen Repulsion
-- as I hadn't until very recently -- you might hold out for July 28th, when the wonderful folks at Criterion will release their typically awesome-sounding Special Edition on DVD and Blu-Ray. Among other things, it'll have a full-length commentary from Polanski and Catherine Deneuve, who was barely 20 when the film was shot and is a dead ringer for Gwyneth Paltrow. It'll also have a documentary shot on set in 1964, which should be fascinating.
But even if you don't shell out the $40 bucks for the Criterion set, see this movie. Netflix it or something. It's a master class for admirers of the horror genre. Here's something tantalizing: it has one of my favorite final shots of all time.