The Exorcist title

 

The ExorcistThe film that spawned a thousand outrageous newspaper stories and had the religious community up in arms, The Exorcist, is indisputably THE most famous horror film of all time. Based on the book by William Peter Blatty and directed by William Freidkin, its a classic horror tale of good vs evil as a couple of priests try to exorcise the evil spirits from a young girl who has developed a bad complexion, spouts profanity and vomits pea soup.

Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is your typical 12 year old girl. Living with her mother Christine (Ellen Burnstein) in the predominantly catholic area of Georgetown in Washington D.C. She appears to be your average normal kid, but as the film progresses it appears that all is not going well . Young Regan claims to hear noises in the attic and also says she can hear voices. She also claims her bed shakes for no reason, and later starts having violent fits and becomes extremely foul mouthed.

Unable to explain this strange behaviour in her child, her Mother takes her to the doctors. Many test are done to see what has caused these mood swings and violent convulsions, but doctors are baffled. Things get progressively worse, as she then starts reacting violently towards visiting doctors, gets a bad skin condition and throws green bile over one of the visiting priests (Yay!).

Claiming she is possessed by the devil, the doctors believe her to have a psychological problem and refer her to a local priest, Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to ask him if he'll perform a "mock" exorcism, believing it would cure what they think is a mental condition. Having received a face full of pea soup from young Reagen, he consults fellow priest Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow), who quickly realises what is going on and immediately agrees to perform an exorcism on the young girl. Resulting in all hell breaking loose during the films climax, as her head turns 360o, the temperature in her rooms drops below freezing and the house starts shaking to bits.

The film undoubtedly achieved its notoriety, due to constant overexposure by tabloid media worldwide, who had a field day reporting on ludicrous stories about people running from the cinema screaming in terror (yeah right). I find it rather hard to believe that people couldn't except it was only a movie, even back then. I'm sure that even in those days most ordinary people could distinguish fantasy from reality but even so, such was the controversy surrounding its initial release, that it remained banned on video in the UK until 1999.

I first got the chance to see it back in 1991 after discovering a multiplex cinema in my area was screening a special late night showing every Saturday night, although this involved a 40 mile drive to get there. However, seeing it was well worth the effort, I found it highly enjoyable and an excellent work of horror cinema, although the effects were somewhat unremarkable by today's standards, but nobody left the theatre screaming.

Overall, this is an excellent film, creepy, chilling, spooky and shocking. I love it, although I still fail to see what all the fuss is about, as a lifelong atheist I find parts of it hilariously funny.

Overal Marks : 9/10.

Terrifying Trivia.

  • Director Freidkin had some very interesting methods of stimulating his actors, to get the desired performance from them. One method used was to fire off a shotgun (loaded with blanks) backstage when he wanted them to suddenly turn round in shock.

  • The Exorcist was passed uncut for a UK cinema release in 1973 with an "X" certificate (the old equivalent of an "18" rating), the film was later released on video in the UK in the early 80's, until the introduction of the "Video Recordings Act" in 1984. The film was then effectively outlawed, as the BBFC refused to award it a video certificate. As a result it continued to do buisness at the cinema's, at special screenings. This went on, right up till 1998 when the film was re-issued commercially (with an amended "18" certificate) to coincide with the 25th anniversary of its release.

  • 25 year old Eileen Deits was used to double for Linda Blair during some of the scene's, most notably the one with the crucifix (you know the one) and actress, Mercedes MacCambridge provided the voice overs for the possessed Reagen.

  • There was some controversy during the production of the movie, as to wether the film was jinxed. The set mysteriously burned down at one point, there were a number of deaths including the actor Jack MacGowron who played Burke Dennings, and the crew were plagued with constant technical problems. However, the majority of the crew believe this was all hokum, particularly Max von Sydow who was very dismissive.

  • The film was finally passed for a UK video release in January 1999 and hit rental shops in April, with it's sell through release following in October. All it took was 25 years and a change in management at the BBFC. Surprisingly, society did not crumble and fall as a result.

  • The BBC screened a special documentary entitled "Fear of God" prior to the films re-issue in 1998. This was the first time that clips from the movie had been allowed to be shown on television. Back in 1991, Channel 4 had screened a documentary on horror films entitled "Fear in the Dark", which featured an interview with William Freidkin, but the Independent Television Commission had refused to let them show any Exorcist clips.

  • The BBC's "Fear of God" documentary can be found on the UK sell-through release of the film. However, this version misses out the introduction and narration by journalist Mark Kermode and omits the interviews with Mercedes MacCambridge and former BBFC chief James Ferman.

  • The dummy used for the scenes where her head spins round, was tested by putting it in the front seat of a taxi and driving round New York to see what reaction they got from passers by.

  • Scene's in Reagen's bedroom were actually filmed in a refrigerated trailer so that you could see the characters breath, as suitable special effects were unavailable in those days.

  • Author, William Peter Blatty followed up the success of the Exorcist with the novel "Legion". However, Warner Bros seemed uninterested and instead decided to film their own sequel. This turned out to be the abominable Exorcist 2 : The Heretic. Blatty's follow up was later filmed as Exorcist 3 by 20th Century Fox.

Extra Info.

Cast & Crew.

 
 

Video Clips.
MP4 format.

Theatrical trailer. (4.35MB)

 

 

 

 

 
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