Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Scary Movie”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upGreetings and welcome to another week of the Wall Street Journal’s contest puzzles. Constructor Matt Gaffney is up again, and this time with a timely Halloween-themed meta puzzle entitled “Scary Movie”. Intrepid solvers, will we be cowed by this forbidding title? Not at all, let us dive in!
Five obvious theme entries in this one, all in the movie business:
- 17a. [“Funny Girl” actor], OMAR SHARIF – not much scary about that title
- 25a. [“Scarface” screenwriter], OLIVER STONE – now we’re talking scary, or is that scar-y?!
- 36a. [“Anatomy of a Murder” director], OTTO PREMINGER – other than that first theme entry, we seem to be encountering people associated with gory movies so far
- 49a. [“Touch of Evil” director/co-star], ORSON WELLES – the fictional body count increases
- 59a. [“Midnight in Paris” actor], OWEN WILSON – hmmm, another non-scary movie here
So the obvious connection is that all of these people’s first names begin with the letter O. Since the mix of movies span both horror and non-horror genres, I didn’t consider the movie to be germane to the meta solution. Anything else these actors/directors/screenwriters have in common? Nothing I could see, other than the fact they are all males.
So we have O + men and, whadyaknow, there is indeed a horror movie with that name: The Omen.
My only concern was which Omen movie in the franchise was Matt going for, wondering if there might be an Omen V out there. But, here is the list:
- The Omen (1976)
- Damien: Omen II (1978)
- Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
- Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
- The Omen (2006)
There indeed seems to be an Omen V novel; but I’m not sure if that 2006 movie is an enactment of that or just a remake of the original.
With all the actors in this one, I played with the idea that DENIRO (clued with his truly scary “Cape Fear” appearance) and DOWNEY (referencing his action star-becomes-soldier-in-real-war movie, “Tropic Thunder”) were also part of the theme, but without their full names, I turned back from that idea. DELPHI for [Oracle headquarters?] was a standout entry and clue. TWO ONE, OTOH, for [Words before “blastoff”] stretched the limits of this solver’s tolerance of valid fill, but that was just a TEENSY nit on an otherwise clean and far-from-scary romp.