Release date: December 26, 1973
Director: William Friedkin
Max von Sydow,
Lee J. Cobb,
Linda Blair and
The Exorcist is the sensational, terrifying horror story about devil possession and the eventual exorcism of the demonic force from a young girl (of a divorced family). The Exorcist was popular for being one of the biggest box-office successes (and one of the first 'blockbusters' in movie history, this was before Jaws (1975)), and surpassing The Godfather (1972) as the biggest cash making film of its time. And it remains one of the only horror films nominated for Best Picture. However, it was also one of the most hated films for its controversial content. Roman Polanski's thriller - Rosemary's Baby (1968) played upon similar fears of demonic possession. Originally X-rated, the movie was released as an uncut 'R' rating which allowed minors to view the film if accompanied by an adult.
The film's screenplay - a horror-tinged western as well as a tle of good vs evil, was faithfully based upon author William Peter Blatty's 1971 best-selling horror novel of the same name. Academy-Award winning director William Friedkin (previously known for The French Connection) created a terrifying, horror film masterpiece, with sensational, nauseating, horrendous special effects (360 degree head-rotation, self-mutilation/masturbation with a crucifix, the spewing of green puke, a mixture of split-pea soup and oatmeal, etc.). The movie also featured the excellent acting by the Linda Blair, who played the helpless girl possessed by demons. The recognizable opening instrumental tune, titled Tubular Bells (by Mike Oldfield), eventually became a #1 single on the Billboard charts - and the first big seller for Virgin Records.
To most viewers, the best aspects of the story are overshadowed by the horror and absolutely terrifying appearance of Regan in her exorcist guise. The creepy eyes and voice are enough to give most people nightmares. The book focuses on the philosophical issues and it is, by far, not as scary as the visuals and audio of the actual film. Either way, it has something for everyone.
So why is "The Exorcist" so scary? Well, the visuals created by the special effects are probably the most obvious reason for most people. No one can argue that Regan's demonic face is one of the most horrific faces ever seen in a film. Then, the voice of the exorcist is another truly scary aspect. No one who watches the film will be able to forget her raspy voice. Then the the foul (sometimes hilarious) language uttered by the exorcist, which isn't too scary of course, some people will feel a bit awkward to hear such crude language in the context of which it is spoken here. Finally, some viewers will find the idea of being possessed by a demon or anyone or anything truly horrifying.
All of the actors do an excellent job performing. Jason Miller plays Father Damien Karras, Ellen Burstyn plays Chris MacNeil, Max von Sydow plays Father Lankester Merrin, Lee J. Cobb plays Det. Lt. William F. Kinderman, and Linda Blair plays Regan MacNeil. These are the stars of the film and each does his/her part to make a truly believable cast of characters.
The special effects are perfect and are even good by today's standards. There is very little blood or gore. Both are in the film but are not gory - more gross than gory, due to their context. The highlight is definitely Regan's exorcist head, which is quite a disturbing thing. The bed jumping, the demon girl floating in air, the infamous spider walk scene, and others device help create more terror.
The music is also very good. Who can forget the theme song, "Tubular Bells"? That will go down in the cinematic history of theme songs.
The atmosphere is a thing of beauty. Everything from the acting to the visuals, the music, the ideas all act to create a perfect force of creepy terror. Great directing by William Friedkin; every scene is setup to show horror - even the most subtle scenes
"The Exorcist" is truly a classic horror film that will also make you think about your life and life in general. It is original and just a fun movie to see (unlike the biased "true story" courtroom drama known as "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"). Watch it for the horror. Watch it for the acting. Watch it for the exorcist face. Watch it for any reason, just be sure to watch it!
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