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The Exorcist

A 1973 American horror film

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Horrifyingly Convincing

  • Nov 3, 2006
Rating:
+5
After thirty-four years, 'The Exorcist' remains nearly as shocking and horrifying as it was upon its release in 1973. Back then, it was a movie event, and news pieces showed that 'The Exorcist' did to post-modern times what 'Dracula' did back during its debut. Near hysteria came to some, but the masses were at least electrified by what is unabashedly called "the scariest movie of all time".

The key element of this hallmark is that 'The Exorcist' is so convincingly real. Reinventing horror, it relies on revealing the nature of a possessed demon inside of its innocent young host, Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair). The way the drama unfolds is not unlike an investigation, complete with medical exams, psychiatry, and a police detective. All of the inquiry gives the whole horror a plausible presentation. For who would not be struck by the contrast between the skepticism of the modern world--including from Catholic priest, Damien Karras (Jason Miller)--in all its attempts to explain an irrational phenomena? The demonic revelation sneaks up on its main players as well as the audience with a tension that only increases over time. Needless to say, it doesn't rely a whole lot on the element of surprise with terrible malevolent beings jumping out at once. As expertly as the sound and special effects are rendered, there is little for the audience to guess at what times terrible things will happen. The presence of the demon inside of Regan makes its menace present to the audience as well. We can feel the full force of the ordeal.

'The Exorcist' takes place mainly on the Georgetown campus where Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is lead actress for a film she describes as "Walt Disney meets Ho Chi Min". She has three helpers, including two German immigrants, and her director, Burke Dennings, provides an important part of the plot's direction. Her loose connections with the priests at Georgetown provide some needed solidarity. It is mostly Chris's story, and her struggle to find some solution to her daughter's developing problem, but it is also the story of two priests (including, the exorcist, Fr. Merrin [Max Von Sydow]) whose determination and struggles give more meaning to the main plot and how it remarkably develops.

'The Exorcist' was directed skillfully by William Friedkin who has a host of classics under his directing belt, including 'The French Connection'. Based on William Peter Blatty's modern bestseller and a screenplay adapted by him, 'The Exorcist' is still a masterpiece of modern horror meant to make one look for a reality beyond the senses.

(The "version you've never seen before" doesn't do much to help or harm. A couple of added scenes provide some poignancy; some of it is extraneous, but none of it really ruins the effect.)

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December 16, 2010
A classic it is
 
November 09, 2010
Thanks for the accolades. Yes, this movie is still one to be reckoned with, my friends. I like Butterfly's so called "trivia," which is hardly trivial! :>)
 
November 08, 2010
Nice going with this review, JP! I am still too scared to review this movie...(ulp)
 
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More The Exorcist reviews
review by . October 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     When the end credits suite from "The Exorcist" begin to play, all questions that we might have had regarding the movie have been answered; and we finally understand its power. Even after the credits run their course, some might sit down and think for a while about what they have witnessed; and they will either go back mentally or literally to certain scenes to determine which ones have the most profound effect on them. A favorite of many and often cited as …
review by . September 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 1
With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I would do some research and investigations about my favorite movie of all time:  The Exorcist.  While many thought the movie was not scary at all, others were terrified (especially me); partially based on the fact that the movie, which started out as a book, was based on a true story, and also because at the time of it's release, NO movie had ever been made like this one -- it was truly the first of it's kind.  Today we see …
review by . September 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 2
   Ellen Burstyn, who played the role of Chris MacNeil, Regan’s mother, was injured on the set during filming. In the scene where she is checking on her daughter and later thrown away from the bed, she received a permanent injury to her spine: the harness that was used to shoot the scene pulled her away quickly and when she landed, Burstyn landed on her coccyx.  The scream seen immediately following the moment when Regan’s mother is tossed away from the bed is a very real …
Quick Tip by . June 07, 2010
My absolute favorite horror flick of all time. The only movie to truly scare the crap out of me!!
review by . November 11, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
It's difficult to look back on a film "classic" and try to review it through today's eyes...35 years later. It's always tempting to say, "Those effects were great...for 1973" or "imagine how that affected an audience...three decades ago." You almost feel like you have to make excuses for the film.    But I am happy to report that in a very recent, pre-Halloween viewing, THE EXORCIST has withstood the test of time nearly unscathed. Yes, some of the effects (there are actually …
Quick Tip by . February 07, 2010
THE RE-RELEASE OF THIS WAS INSANE! I SAW IT IN THE OLD THEATRE IN WASHINGTON, D.C. WHICH IS SUPPOSEDLY HAUNTED. CRAZY.
review by . May 13, 2009
The Exorcist (1973) was one of the greatest horror films ever made. It scared the nation and the people wanted more! The movie made a lot of money and it launched William Friedkin's career beyond the stratosphere (he was already a big name thanks to the French Connection). William Peter Blatty's novel was already a big seller when it was optioned for a silver screen adaptation. The conflicts between the two over how it would be presented as a film could make a movie by it's own right. There was …
review by . August 27, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Since I was a kid, I have heard people all over say time and time again that THE EXORCIST is "one of the scariest movies of all time." Well, I've never been a huge fan of horror, but in order to improve my cinematic horizons, I have been watching a lot of schlock and horror lately and finally viewed THE EXORCIST. My impression: what in the world is the big deal? Outside of superb acting and some neat special effects, THE EXORCIST isn't that great. The writing is terrible and contains loads of dialogue …
review by . August 11, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
In terms of a MOVIE this is clearly one of the best ever made. Only the Godfather I & II compares to it, in terms of performances, (not a single bad one) Special effects and plot it is incredible. This movie doesn't rush itself. It slowly builds up until you just can't take it anymore. This is high art. All the people involved in this movie should be rightly proud. It will outlast anything else in the Genre. I know Linda Blair's career has paid a price for this but very few great actors have ever …
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #37
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie

Wiki

The Exorcist is a horror novel by William Peter Blatty, published by Harper & Row in 1971. It is based on a 1949 exorcism of Robbie Mannheim that Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University, a Jesuit and Catholic school. On October 31, 2010, Cemetery Dance will publish a special omnibus edition of The Exorcist and its sequel Legion, signed by Blatty.

Plot

An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become "possessed" by a demonic spirit.

After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan's mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. ...

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