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The Exorcist 1973
Description: 12-year-old Regan MacNeil starts to adapt an explicit fresh personality as strange happenings befall the local zone of Georgetown. Her mother becomes torn between science and superstition in a desperate bid to save her daughter, and ultimately turns to her last hope: Father Damien Karras, a troubled priest who is struggling with his own faith.
Released: 26 Dec 1973 Director: William Friedkin Writers: William Peter Blatty (written for the screen by), William Peter Blatty (novel) Actors: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn Genres: Horror
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The Exorcist Reviews:

There's a lot of anxiety that goes into viewing The Exorcist, "the scariest film ever made", for the very first time. And with that anxiety comes a lot of expectations and preconceived concepts about what The Exorcist *should* be. Especially for someone born after the film. Then on top of that waited years before finally seeing it.I love the Exorcist, and after exposure to God knows how many horror films, the Exorcist remains my favourite within the genre. And even from a die-hard fanatic I have to admit, I hate hearing "scariest film of all time" associated with this movie.First of all, there's no reason to compare fright factor of films, so forget that anyone ever named The Exorcist "the scariest film ever made." Take any film – I don't care what film – and stick a "greatest/scariest/best" whatever mark next to it, and you'll have audiences investing in what they *think* it could be instead of letting the movie show itself for what it is. And all they see is that it is not what they expected (expectations, I might add, that are shaped by the actual gimmicks and trends in Hollywood).I love the Exorcist because it dared to defy my expectations. This is not a wall-to-wall, credits-to-credits montage of scary imagery inspired by a mere scenario that's supposed to pass as a plot. This isn't a film about that long dark corridor and something waiting to jump out of the darkness and attack (which is everytime preceded by a false scare featuring a cat). It's not about that cheap gimmicky scenario of X amount of folks isolated from the rest of the world, with a killer/monster/ghost/whatever on the loose.The Exorcist is a very slow film that now details a full blown plot, its characters, and their associated arcs. The original ambition of The Exorcist was to scare the globe with imagery and ideas never before seen in cinema. Shocking moments that the audience of 1973 should not trust they would ever see on the silver screen (from a major studio, no less.) After 30 years, the film isn't so shocking because times have changed, and the success of the Exorcist has guaranteed countless imitation in all forms across all boards. However, the Exorcist is still one of the most ambition horror movies ever made, because (are you ready for this?) – the Exorcist dares to say a story.Everyone remembers the pea soup, the head spinning, the vulgarities spewed from the demon's mouth, the stairs, the infamous slash (now restored) spider walk. But I adore this film for the things no one seems to bring up – I love the setup in Iraq where Father Lancaster Merrin detects the signs of his final showdown, and how these abstract scenes on subsequent viewings give the film a more epic feel. I love the transition from Chris MacNeil to Father Karras walking across campus that's reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. I became absorbed watching Father Karras caring for his aging mother and the close relationship they have, seeing him depressed and sharing a drink with a fellow priest as he discusses his own problems with faith.And what impresses me most about a film called the Exorcist is how it seems to reject the chance of possession and exorcism as its ultimate and final solution. The characters in the film don't wish it to be true, and in fact don't really even know about the chance of Exorcism, thus they discover and exhaust all another chances (both medical and psychological). I smiled with delight (after all the hospital scenes) in that priceless moment when Chris MacNeil asks Karras, "And how does one go about getting an exorcism?" which stops father Karras in his tracks as he, a boy of the church, looks at her as though she's lost her mind.The fact that the film resists the temptation to jump right into the acknowledgment that Regan is possessed continues to build up the epic Nice vs Evil, God vs Satan, the exorcist vs the demon, feel. Like the characters, the film doesn't wish it to be true, it doesn't wish to go there and embrace that possibility, but we the audience know what gotta inevitably happen. And it's almost magical how the film finally acknowledges Regan's only hope. There's no glorious fanfare nor is there boastful ultimatums, instead the film lamentingly and silently surrenders to it as we watch Lancaster Merrin walking up the sunny garden path, staring down at a newly delivered envelope. He doesn't have to read it. He already knows what it says, as do we.The imagery then fades to an ominous foggy night as a taxi pulls up to the MacNeil zone in Georgetown, then we're treated to the haunting imagery that inspired the cover art. What gotta be done, gotta be done. I love how the film implies that Merrin has faced this very demon before through its imagery, and through the dialogue as Karras explains he's identified at least three manifestations to which Merrin answers, "No. There is only one." I can address more – the acting, the pretty cinematography, brilliant makeup – but I'll stop to hold from sounding like a raving fanatic who over hypes each inch of everything. I'll close with these thoughts: I'm not the kind of person who will watch the same film over and over and over. Most films I see, the specific imagery and specific concepts don't create a deep enough impression to stick with me for more than a several months. I remember the Exorcist, not because I thought it was the "scariest film ever made", rather because of the unbelievable craftsmanship, the fact that it dared to say a story, and it defied my expectations.When Friday the 13th, the Grudge, Skeleton Key, and Cursed are reduced to vague memories and general ideas, I will still clearly remember the Exorcist.


In late 1973 and early 1974, girls and boys were lined up for blocks. Folks were known to become ill watching it. Some fainted. Some ran out of the theater in tears. There were reports of folks having to be institutionalized, and at least one miscarriage was attributed to viewing it. No, it wasn't a Rolling Stones Concert. It was a movie named The Exorcist.The first time I had heard of something named The Exorcist was on late night tv when the author, William Peter Blatty, was a guest on The Tonight Show. The conversation centered around how horrible some of the things in the ebook were. I had also seen the novel listed on The Fresh York Times Bestseller List, and it seemed as if it would remain there forever. After having been on the waiting list for what seemed like an eternity at the local library, I was finally able to receive a copy. It was the first ebook I had read in one sitting since probably Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase quite a several years earlier. And yes, for it's time it was filled with gut wrenching features of what happens when for some unexplained reason; an innocent woman is possessed by Satan. While reading the ebook I was sure that if it ever made its method to film, most of the features would certainly be either `cleaned up' or omitted altogether. As you know the movie was made and it spared the film going public absolutely nothing in the method of details.Certainly many of the folks who lined up to see The Exorcist did so to watch some of the more gruesome scenes, the worst of which involved Regan's masturbation with a crucifix. Yet, the hysteria went well beyond the fact that such scenes were so vividly depicted. I think one needs to look no further than Mel Gibson's The Passion to search the respond as to why. I'm sure most of you have read the storyline of folks leaving Mel's movie in tears, some to the mission of being hysterical. From most articles I have read, it seems that the majority of the audience that was moved were those folks of powerful religious beliefs. For many others, the depiction of the brutality in The Passion may have been uncomfortable to sit through, but weren't emotionally effected to any degree. Much of this same feeling can explain the hysteria surrounding The Exorcist. Those who had a definitive belief in Heaven and Hell, of Nice and Evil, of Jesus as The Savior and Satan as the epitome of pure evil were affected by The Exorcist far more than those who were agnostic or just never had a powerful belief in spiritual matters. There is no doubt though that much in the method The Passion did, The Exorcist caused many to reconsider how they felt about their faith. The Exorcist made the prospect of Satan being alive and well and a life of eternal damnation a very uncomfortable prospect. The fact that Blatty claims his ebook and screenplay were based on a real storyline seemed to give the movie even more credibility.For me, The Exorcist has everytime been more about the never ending conflict between pure evil and pure innocence than about being an average horror story. There are many more lvls to this movie than what initially meets the eye. There is no doubt that while the main storyline revolves around an innocent young girl, Regan McNeil (Linda Blair), being inhabited by Satan himself, Blatty enhances it greatly by adding various characters in different stages of conflict. Regan's mother, Chris McNeil (Ellen Burstyn) obviously cares deeply for her daughter. Yet she is not beyond reproach. In one stage when Reagan's father hasn't named on Regan's birthday, we see her desperately on the smartphone doing war with an overseas operator. The trouble is not how vicious the smartphone call is, but that she does it within ear shot of her daughter as if to drive the mission home to Regan how worthless her father is. When, she finally does seek the aid of Father Damian Karras, we don't feel that she believes in exorcism anymore than he does, but is desperate enough to agree the fact that it is possible and will take any and all measures to save her daughter.Father Karras (Jason Miller) is a priest torn by conflict. He is ridden by overwhelming guilt for having abandoned his mother to enter the priesthood. He is torn spiritually by the confessions of those priests who seek his support as a psychiatrist, so much so that he actually questions his own faith. When he states to the Bishop that `Regan's situation meets all the criteria,' we know that even more than Chris, he doesn't really trust in the power of Satan to inhabit a living being in the manner that it has taken over Regan. Yet, he will do what is needed of him as a priest concerned about the health of a child.Jack McGowran gives a terrific performance as the alcoholic director filming Chris's recent movie in Georgetown. Kitty Winn is Sharon Spencer, the secretary who works for Chris and everytime seems to be in the line of fire when Chris is angry. She is everytime there but for all the horror she witnesses, Winn appears too bland and emotionless and her performance is probably the weakest in the film.Max Von Sydow as Father Lancester Merrin is a no nonsense aging priest. He has done war with evil before and he shows us its result in each stage he occupies. One should pass it off to being just nice make-up but it is so much more than that as Sydow demonstrates all the nuances that brings to life a boy who has faced Satan and lived to say about it. He knows what he is up against, understands he gotta do it again and the consequences of what that war may be.If I have a tiny complaint with The Exorcist it is in regards to the hero of Lt. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb). I have never been able to purchase into the character. It is not the fault of Cobb who is his usual stalwart self in the role. The entire hero could at greatest have only been important for a several brief scenes yet; he has few that go on method too long and do not add anything to the story. Even in his scenes with Chris or Damian, Kinderman is so odd that he distracts us too much from their characters and it is Chris and Damian's reactions that are more necessary to us, not his investigation. For all you trivia buffs out there, Blatty once sued the producers of Columbo, stating they based Peter Falk's hero on Kinderman. If memory serves me correctly Blatty lost that one.As for Director William Friedken, although he won the greatest director award for The French Connection, for me The Exorcist will everytime remain his defining film. The Final half hour of The Exorcist are still as dynamic today as they were 31 years ago, French Connection vehicle chase be damned.It seems that to many of the younger film audiences of today, The Exorcist has become more of a joke than anything else. That's not surprising considering how many times it has been lampooned, even by Linda Blair herself in Repossessed. Yet, if they were to view the movie in a more serious vein, not as just other monster feature, they may just search that there really is more to this movie than a tiny woman spewing pea soup and spinning her head around 360 degrees. It is the ultimate war between Heaven and Hell and Nice and Evil. It is the storyline of the finished and total degradation of innocence. It is a study in character, and whether a boy torn by the forces surrounding him, can regain his faith and his belief in God and mankind to save the life of a tiny girl, caught up in forces beyond her control.Call it a horror film, call it a religious film, call it what you want. For me, The Exorcist is and will everytime remain a classic in each sense of the word. And if I regard you as a classic of any type I have no choice but to leave you with my grade, which for The Exorcist is an A.


There is a reason for the hysteria and mystique surrounding THE EXORCIST. And it's named genius.Never have I seen a movie matched in shock, terror, writing, or performances. This isn't a horror movie. The movie itself is both a moving and terrifying drama that takes a realistic look at what would now happen if a young woman were possessed in modern America. William Peter Blatty's script is amazing, bringing depth to the characters, and presenting the mystery of faith that they all deal with. Is Regan possessed? Is she insane? And most importantly, Is there a God? In the course of two hours, we see a sweet and innocent young woman become a cross masturbating, head spinning, murderous, creature. We see a successful actress overcome skepticism to save her daughter, and we see a brilliant psychiatrist struggle with his devotion to God as a priest.Friedkin's direction is marvelous, with unbelievable uses of light, dark, and color throughout the film. Jason Miller (as Damien Karras) is beautifully subtle in his first movie acting role. Maximum Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb deliever engaging helping performances as the experienced priest who senses his impending doom, and a detective who senses something sinister is at work. Ellen Burstyn gives a brutally honest performance as a grief stricken girl trying to save her daughter. And most of all, a 12-year-old Linda Blair gives one of the most terrifying, convincing, and pretty performances ever shown on film. Her range of emotion and connection to Regan are astonishing. She deserved that Oscar!THE EXORCIST presents to us the mystery of faith in it's most raw form--the war of nice and evil. It is an incomparable masterpiece of film, done without the aid of computers and unique effects. It relies on storyline and performances to give us a marvelous and terrifying piece of work. In the end, it makes us ask ourselves what we believe, and keeps us wondering and shuddering at exactally what might be out there.



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