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The Exorcist (1973)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother - The Version You've Never Seen)
Movie Connections:
The Exorcist
> The Exorcist (1973)
> The XXXorcist (2006)
Genres:
Horror, Religious Drama, Religious Horror, Supernatural Horror
Director:
William Friedkin William Friedkin
Starring:
Ellen Burstyn Ellen Burstyn
Max von Sydow Max von Sydow
Lee J. Cobb Lee J. Cobb
Kitty Winn Kitty Winn
Jack MacGowran Jack MacGowran

8.4 / 10 - 38 votes

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Review by Chad
Added: September 24, 2007
You know what hurts a movie even more that bad acting, horrible special effects, or amateur direction? The hype machine. You know what movie has had more hype than any other movie in... well, I'd say in the history of film? The Exorcist. Right from the day it opened in theaters, The Exorcist has been hyped to hell and back as being "the scariest movie of all time", "the best horror film of all time", and "the standard that every other horror film has to live up to." Seriously, just go look at any respectable "best of" list that deals with horror, and I guarantee that The Exorcist will at least rank in the top five if it doesn't cap off the list altogether. With all of that said, I expected to watch this again for the first time today after having not seen it for almost twenty years and be let down; after all, how could any film live up to the amount of hype behind this one? While I can't say that it lived up to the hype (again, what film could?), I do have to say that it definitely deserved its spot near the top of those lists.

Now, you all know the basics of the story: a little girl (Linda Blair) gets possessed by a demon, possibly the devil himself, and her mother (Ellen Burstyn) takes her to various doctors in an effort to find out what's wrong with her child. She eventually turns to religion for help, and the Catholic church sends out a priest (Max von Sydow) with experience in exorcisms as well as another priest (Jason Miller) who specializes in psychiatry. That's really the extent of the story, and while that alone could have worked out wonderfully, it's the execution and slow-building horror of the film that truly makes it a classic.

You see, The Exorcist is by no means a fast-paced horror film, as it takes its sweet time in developing the characters and building up to the climatic finish. In fact, it's not until about an hour into the film that we even see any of the "possessed child" antics that the film is known for; everything up until that point is there solely to build the characters and establish who's who in this gallery of flawed but sympathetic characters. Father Damien Karras, the priest who deals in psychiatry, is the centerpiece of this character study, as we find in him a priest who is questioning his very faith after some recent troubles in his personal life. It is these troubles that leads him to seek redemption by helping this child, and it is also this aspect of the film that elevates The Exorcist beyond "just another horror movie." Whereas anyone could film a kid screaming obscenities alongside some spooky special effects, it takes true talent to properly incorporate a character like this into the mix and have it all come out as beautifully as it did here.

However, it is not this aspect of the film that is so fondly remembered when one waxes nostalgic about the title; no, what everyone seems to remember is the actual horror aspect of the film, namely, the antics Captain Howdy, also known as the demon inside little Linda Blair's body. There's little question as to why this is the case, as the effects and direction of these scenes were downright chilling. Even after it has been parodied in countless movies and even after we've seen the scenes over and over again in various "best of" clip shows, the demonic torment of this child is still haunting to this very day. The head-spinning trick, the green vomit, the shaking bed, and the "help me" scars on her stomach? All perfectly done, and they were all just as effective today as they were when it screened back in the early seventies. Let's not even get into the crucifix scene and the obscenities that this child blurts out; again, this portion of the film is just as shocking now as it was back then, even when one considers how far the envelope has been pushed in the years since its release.

If you couldn't tell by now, I really loved The Exorcist and felt that it was a true representation of what horror is all about: buckets of blood and body-counts that reach the triple digits are great, but if you want a movie that will truly scare you, this is definitely one to invest in. I haven't even mentioned the acting abilities of all those found here (This was Jason Miller's debut film? Really?! He seemed like a seasoned pro!), the iconic theme music and the rest of the score, the special effects, and the underlying themes of the film that made it the classic that it is, but after all that I've said thus far... do I really need to? 10/10.
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bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 09/24/2007, 11:14 PM
10/10. Perfect horror film. A masterpiece.
Tristan #2: Tristan - added 09/24/2007, 11:22 PM
Feels almost redundant to comment, but yeah, a masterpiece. The only movie that truly scared me as a kid and still does today. Well, not so much scares as creeps me the fuck out. 10/10
Christopher #3: Christopher - added 09/25/2007, 12:15 PM
Watching the uncut/remastered/new version of this in the theaters totally killed what was left of the film for me. When she'd walk down the stairs, started spewing vomit or any of the other "horrific" scenes, everyone in the theater would laugh. Children to grandparents would be crying in their seats with tears of the film's comedic performances. It completely turned me off of the film and seeing movies with any sort of crowd.
Kezia Vadimas #4: Kezia Vadimas - added 07/13/2008, 09:22 AM
To quote Beetlejuice: " I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT..." how true, except I think I've seen it closer to a hundred times! 10/10
johannesfaust #5: johannesfaust - added 02/27/2009, 07:58 PM
a masterpiece...however, as today we are used to watch better special effects, when I saw the version with the director´s cuts, I was more scared of the machines doctors used to evaluate the child´s mind than the demon himself...10/10
Lucid Dreams #6: Lucid Dreams - added 05/26/2010, 11:36 PM
My sister watched this a few weeks ago and said she didn't like it. I think she was just waiting for something really gory, so she pretty much wasn't really paying attention like the dork she is. 10/10
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