PLOT: An actress (Ellen Burstyn) moves to Washington D.C. and soon her daughter (Linda Blair) starts to act a little bit…odd. Meanwhile, a youngish priest named Father Karras (Jason Miller) has been questioning his faith while his momma has been sick. And because we need more church leaders, we have another priest, the older Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) who has just returned from the Middle East where he found…evil. These priests end up joining forces to save the young girl, because the story wouldn’t make sense if they didn’t all get together.
REVIEW: Whenever I’m feeling stupid and I engage in a horror movie discussion with people, I often bring up The Exorcist as perhaps the scariest movie that I've ever seen. Most folks seem to disagree (not too many have been horror fans), saying it's just too old. I know other films have been more gory, more violent, more f*cked up, but The Exorcist got me as a kid and still gets me now. Sure, hundreds of demon possession movies have come out since William Peter Blatty's masterpiece, but it remains the granddaddy. It’s one of the few that plays real. When poor, young Regan (Blair) gets some devil in her, it ACTUALLY feels like the damn devil got inside. The special effects, created by legend Dick Smith, basically pushed horror makeup and effects to the next level. Nothing feels cheap. Nothing feels goofy. Nothing works better than this film.
The Exorcist remains the type of haunting experience that raised the bar for horror. Sure, some horror is great when it's raw and nasty (Texas Chainsaw anyone?), but sometimes it's great to see it from a more mature approach. And that's what The Exorcist is. It's mature horror. But that doesn't mean it plays light. No, it's a brutal film, especially if watched in context. Think about it. This was 1973. The damn Brady Bunch was still on the air and here we have a little kid saying and doing really really horrific things. Hell, she masturbates with a freakin' crucifix for shit's sake. That's...uh... pretty shocking.
Director William Friedkin (working off from Blatty's novel and script) provides an epic scope that few horror flicks ever get. We start in the Middle East and move the US. We deal wth epic type problems within human nature like questioning one's faith when things don't go as planned. It's not just a discussion, but we see what happens when folks are pushed to the brink, and how the hell they can handle pure evil. Like I said before, no other film captured evil like this one.
The Exorcist isn't any easy viewing. It's a little long, a little slow, and mostly unrelenting. To get the full effect, turn off the lights, put your damn cell phone away, and crank up the volume. Horrific things will soon occur.
BEST TNA SCENE: Uh…none though we get a lot of sexual things, but they're all quite...awkward.
BEST GORE BIT: Not necessarily gory, but the old head spin gag (even though it's been done to death), still looks absolutely scary. Or, of course, the pea soup scene. Both are classics.
HALLOWEEN DRINKING GAME: Each time good old Pazuzu says something shocking, better down some red wine, preferable one with an ironicly holy name.