The Exorcist (1973)

In 1971, (the exact same year my parents were born) novelist William Peter Bradley published a novel titled, “The Exorcist.” The story is about a girl named, Regan who gets possessed by a demonic spirit. Her mother recruits two priests to save her daughter or else things will get worse. Two Years Later, Warner Bros. (WB for short) adapted the novel with assistance provided by Bradley himself writing the screenplay.

The Exorcist was released in 1973. (same year Bruce Lee’s completed film Enter The Dragon came out) It received critical acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. Besides strong reception, it managed to make a lot of money at the box office. The Exorcist spawned a franchise including two sequels, two prequels and a short lived television series on Fox. The Exorcist later became an eligible nominee at “The Academy Awards,” winning one for “Best Adapted Screenplay.” The film eventually became a pop culture phenomenon either paying tribute or spoofing the classic element of demonic possession.

Halloween Month is right around the corner, I want to share my thoughts on what is good or bad about the classic horror film that made an impact on the horror film genre.

This review doesn’t contain no potential SPOILERS whatsoever. I’m gonna give some movie goers a chance to see this gem. Does The Exorcist still holds up nearly five decades? Let’s find out shall we?

Good & Evil Elements

Good: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller & the late Max Von Sydow all did a fantastic job for their respective performances.

William Friedkin did an excellent job taking full responsibility as a director. He used to be a well respected filmmaker, until he said some nasty things about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Batman, Iron Man & The Hunger Games are not “rooted in gravity.” I think he’s jealous because he’s no longer A-List director back in his prime. Bill if you’re reading this, I got some news for you: ‘You’re a D-List director!”

Fun Fact: Martin Scorsese & the late Stanley Kubrick mentioned The Exorcist as one of their favorite films. At first, Stan was approached to direct, but it down in favor of his pet project, “Barry Lyndon.”

William Peter Bradley himself contributed as a screenwriter. He made sure every aspect of his work remains intact on the big screen.

Cinematography never had any technical problems whatsoever.

Don’t expect this classic filled with non-stop scares. The Scare Factor takes a psychological approach. Imagine if a demon controls you against your will fooling your friends or family members thinking you’ve gone insane.

A statue serves as a plot device.

Opening Scene establishes where the demonic spirit came from.

Practical Effects were heavily involved to create signature moments including the infamous 360 head spin, projectile green vomit made with pea soup and of course wires to allow Reagan to float in the air to make it look like she’s under control by the demon spirit. To this day, they still hold up for a film released in 1973. I’ll have to give the effects Bonus Points, they aged like fine wine.

Prosthetic Makeup was applied transforming Linda Blair as a demonically possessed Regan.

When Regan is given a medical procedure called an “arteriogram.” It does in fact, exist in real life.

The infamous steps are located near Georgetown University. If you’re a fan of the film, can visit the landmark.

The film’s signature scene has got to be the two priests chanting, “The Power Of Christ Compels You!” This was later spoofed in “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” when Dr. Evil is struggling to control his rotating chair.

The digitally remastered version features the deleted spider walk scene. Back then, it was impossible for a contortionist performing with a wire exposed. Thanks to modern editing technology, William removed the wire.

Evil: I know Regan is possessed by a demon, but the villain is apparently a couch potato. He doesn’t do anything chaotic other than taunting the priests.

The Final Verdict: A-

Despite my one gripe, The Exorcist stills holds up for a film which came out on 1973. If you’re in Halloween mood, I highly recommend this classic masterpiece. Skip the sequels & prequels. They’re duds. If I were you, watch Richard Pryor’s spoof of a fake sequel to The Exorcist on SNL.

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