HALLOWEEN HORRORS: The Exorcist (1973)

By Machete Von Kill

Exorcist Poster

Director: William Friedkin; Writer: William Peter Blatty; Stars: Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn; Rating: R; Run Time: 122 min; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 1973

When a teenage girl (Linda Blair) is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother (Ellen Burstyn) seeks the help of two priests (Max von Sydow and Jason Miller) to save her daughter. (Summary from IMDb.)

Saturday nights in 8th grade consisted of MTV's Headbanger's Ball, followed by whatever movie I happened to find on television. There were always a variety of B movies, Kung Fu or cheesy comedies on at that hour. Sometimes, I'd get lucky and find a great horror flick. In October, MTV, USA, and TBS all showed horror movies later at night. It was heaven! There was no internet or Netflix, and the only video rental place in town was in the local grocery store. Pickins were slim!

It was on one of those October Saturday nights when I happened upon The Exorcist for the very first time. I'm pretty sure it was on TBS, which of course meant editing for content. They were able to get away with a bit more at 3 am than they could during regular viewing hours, but a lot of the more graphic scenes were cut. Even so, it was enough to scare me and leave a permanent mark on my psyche.

I was raised Roman Catholic, and even though I left the Church and Christianity at the age of 13, some of the imagery and dogma still hangs around in the back of my head. The idea of demonic possession is terrifying! Being under the control of some other being that you can't see and can't defend yourself against...yeah screw that!

The wonderful makeup artistry of legends of the industry Dick Smith and Rick Baker, combined with years of catechism classes, and a well written story by William Peter Blatty created nightmare material for days! Eileen Dietz as the demonic face still creeps me out to this day. And poor Regan (Linda Blair) when she is fully possessed by Pazuzu...thank you Mr. Smith and Mr. Baker for makeup no one will ever forget! You provided nightmarish images for generations to come.

Even though the movie gave me nightmares that night (thanks Ms. Dietz!), I wasn't satisfied with just seeing the edited for content version of the film. A few days later, I mentioned seeing the movie to my mother. Thinking I'd probably get flack for staying up that late and for watching the Exorcist, I was beyond shocked when she responded with, "You need to see the WHOLE movie!" She actually took me to the video rental counter at Glen's Market and surprisingly enough, they had ONE VHS copy of The Exorcist. We took it home and watched it that day. MIND BLOWN! I had missed so much disturbing stuff watching it on basic cable. I experienced that mind blown sensation again several years later when the Director's Cut was released on DVD.

I went on to later read the novel by Blatty, that the movie is based on. And much later, the actual case that inspired the novel. I actually used it, and some creepy props, as a part of a visual display of the staff's favorite books when I worked at the local public library. And every October, without fail, I watch the Director's Cut. It just isn't Halloween without Regan, Captain Howdy and Pazuzu!

Final Verdict: 10 out of 10 "Powers of Christ compel you!"

Posted by Alan Smithee

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