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  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's a lot of anxiety that goes into viewing The Exorcist, "the scariest movie ever made", for the very first time. And with that anxiety comes a lot of expectations and preconceived ideas about what The Exorcist *should* be. Especially for someone born after the film. Then on top of that waited years before finally seeing it.

    I love the Exorcist, and after exposure to God knows how many horror films, the Exorcist remains my favorite within the genre. And even from a die-hard fan I have to admit, I hate hearing "scariest movie of all time" associated with this movie.

    First of all, there's no reason to compare fright factor of films, so forget that anyone ever called The Exorcist "the scariest movie ever made." Take any movie – I don't care what movie – and stick a "greatest/scariest/best" whatever tag next to it, and you'll have audiences investing in what they *think* it should be instead of letting the film present itself for what it is. And all they see is that it is not what they expected (expectations, I might add, that are shaped by the current gimmicks and trends in Hollywood).

    I love the Exorcist because it dared to defy my expectations. This is not a wall-to-wall, credits-to-credits montage of scary imagery inspired by a mere scenario that's supposed to pass as a plot. This isn't a movie about that long dark corridor and something waiting to jump out of the darkness and attack (which is always preceded by a false scare featuring a cat). It's not about that cheap gimmicky scenario of X amount of people isolated from the rest of the world, with a killer/monster/ghost/whatever on the loose.

    The Exorcist is a very slow movie that actually features a full blown plot, its characters, and their associated arcs. The original ambition of The Exorcist was to scare the world with imagery and concepts never before seen in cinema. Shocking moments that the audience of 1973 could not believe they would ever see on the silver screen (from a major studio, no less.) After 30 years, the movie isn't so shocking because times have changed, and the success of the Exorcist has guaranteed countless imitation in all forms across all boards. However, the Exorcist is still one of the most ambition horror films ever made, because (are you ready for this?) – the Exorcist dares to tell a story.

    Everyone remembers the pea soup, the head spinning, the vulgarities spewed from the demon's mouth, the stairs, the infamous cut (now restored) spider walk. But I adore this movie for the things no one seems to bring up – I love the setup in Iraq where Father Lancaster Merrin detects the signs of his final showdown, and how these abstract scenes on subsequent viewings give the movie a more epic feel. I love the transition from Chris MacNeil to Father Karras walking across campus that's reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. I became absorbed watching Father Karras caring for his aging mother and the close relationship they have, seeing him depressed and sharing a drink with a fellow priest as he discusses his own issues with faith.

    And what impresses me most about a movie named the Exorcist is how it seems to reject the possibility of possession and exorcism as its ultimate and final solution. The characters in the movie don't want it to be true, and in fact don't really even know about the possibility of Exorcism, thus they explore and exhaust all other possibilities (both medical and psychological). I smiled with delight (after all the hospital scenes) in that priceless moment when Chris MacNeil asks Karras, "And how does one go about getting an exorcism?" which stops father Karras in his tracks as he, a man of the church, looks at her as though she's lost her mind.

    The fact that the movie resists the temptation to jump right into the acknowledgment that Regan is possessed continues to build up the epic Good versus Evil, God versus Satan, the exorcist versus the demon, feel. Like the characters, the movie doesn't want it to be true, it doesn't want to go there and embrace that possibility, but we the audience know what must inevitably happen. And it's almost magical how the movie finally acknowledges Regan's only hope. There's no glorious fanfare nor is there boastful ultimatums, instead the movie lamentingly and silently surrenders to it as we watch Lancaster Merrin walking up the sunny garden path, staring down at a newly delivered envelope. He doesn't have to read it. He already knows what it says, as do we.

    The imagery then fades to an ominous foggy night as a taxi pulls up to the MacNeil place in Georgetown, then we're treated to the haunting imagery that inspired the cover art. What must be done, must be done. I love how the movie implies that Merrin has faced this very demon before through its imagery, and through the dialogue as Karras explains he's identified at least three manifestations to which Merrin answers, "No. There is only one." I can address more – the acting, the beautiful cinematography, brilliant makeup – but I'll stop to keep from sounding like a raving fan who over hypes every inch of everything. I'll close with these thoughts: I'm not the type of person who will watch the same movie over and over and over. Most movies I see, the specific imagery and specific ideas don't make a deep enough impression to stick with me for more than a few months. I remember the Exorcist, not because I thought it was the "scariest movie ever made", rather because of the wonderful craftsmanship, the fact that it dared to tell a story, and it defied my expectations.

    When Friday the 13th, the Grudge, Skeleton Key, and Cursed are reduced to vague memories and general ideas, I will still clearly remember the Exorcist.
  • In late 1973 and early 1974, women and men were lined up for blocks. People were known to become ill watching it. Some fainted. Some ran out of the theater in tears. There were reports of people having to be institutionalized, and at least one miscarriage was attributed to viewing it. No, it wasn't a Rolling Stones Concert. It was a film called The Exorcist.

    The first time I had heard of something called The Exorcist was on late night television when the author, William Peter Blatty, was a guest on The Tonight Show. The conversation centered around how horrible some of the things in the book were. I had also seen the novel listed on The New York Times Bestseller List, and it seemed as if it would remain there forever. After having been on the waiting list for what seemed like an eternity at the local library, I was finally able to obtain a copy. It was the first book I had read in one sitting since probably Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase quite a few years earlier. And yes, for it's time it was filled with gut wrenching details of what happens when for some unexplained reason; an innocent girl is possessed by Satan. While reading the book I was sure that if it ever made its way to film, most of the details would certainly be either `cleaned up' or omitted altogether. As you know the film was made and it spared the movie going public absolutely nothing in the way of details.

    Certainly many of the people who lined up to see The Exorcist did so to watch some of the more gruesome scenes, the worst of which involved Regan's masturbation with a crucifix. Yet, the hysteria went well beyond the fact that such scenes were so vividly depicted. I think one needs to look no further than Mel Gibson's The Passion to find the answer as to why. I'm sure most of you have read the story of people leaving Mel's film in tears, some to the point of being hysterical. From most articles I have read, it seems that the majority of the audience that was moved were those people of strong religious beliefs. For many others, the depiction of the brutality in The Passion may have been uncomfortable to sit through, but weren't emotionally effected to any degree. Much of this same feeling can explain the hysteria surrounding The Exorcist. Those who had a definitive belief in Heaven and Hell, of Good and Evil, of Jesus as The Savior and Satan as the epitome of pure evil were affected by The Exorcist far more than those who were agnostic or just never had a strong belief in spiritual matters. There is no doubt though that much in the way The Passion did, The Exorcist caused many to reconsider how they felt about their faith. The Exorcist made the prospect of Satan being alive and well and a life of eternal damnation a very uncomfortable prospect. The fact that Blatty claims his book and screenplay were based on a true story seemed to give the film even more credibility.

    For me, The Exorcist has always been more about the never ending conflict between pure evil and pure innocence than about being an average horror story. There are many more levels to this film than what initially meets the eye. There is no doubt that while the main story revolves around an innocent young girl, Regan McNeil (Linda Blair), being inhabited by Satan himself, Blatty enhances it greatly by adding different characters in various stages of conflict. Regan's mother, Chris McNeil (Ellen Burstyn) obviously cares deeply for her daughter. Yet she is not beyond reproach. In one scene when Reagan's father hasn't called on Regan's birthday, we see her desperately on the phone doing battle with an overseas operator. The problem is not how vicious the phone call is, but that she does it within ear shot of her daughter as if to drive the point home to Regan how worthless her father is. When, she finally does seek the aid of Father Damian Karras, we don't feel that she believes in exorcism anymore than he does, but is desperate enough to accept the fact that it is possible and will take any and all measures to save her daughter.

    Father Karras (Jason Miller) is a priest torn by conflict. He is ridden by overwhelming guilt for having abandoned his mother to enter the priesthood. He is torn spiritually by the confessions of those priests who seek his help as a psychiatrist, so much so that he now questions his own faith. When he states to the Bishop that `Regan's case meets all the criteria,' we know that even more than Chris, he doesn't really believe in the power of Satan to inhabit a living being in the manner that it has taken over Regan. Yet, he will do what is required of him as a priest concerned about the health of a child.

    Jack McGowran gives a terrific performance as the alcoholic director filming Chris's latest film in Georgetown. Kitty Winn is Sharon Spencer, the secretary who works for Chris and always seems to be in the line of fire when Chris is angry. She is always there but for all the horror she witnesses, Winn appears too bland and emotionless and her performance is probably the weakest in the film.

    Max Von Sydow as Father Lancester Merrin is a no nonsense aging priest. He has done battle with evil before and he shows us its effect in every scene he occupies. One could pass it off to being just good make-up but it is so much more than that as Sydow demonstrates all the nuances that brings to life a man who has faced Satan and lived to tell about it. He knows what he is up against, understands he must do it again and the consequences of what that battle may be.

    If I have a small complaint with The Exorcist it is in regards to the character of Lt. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb). I have never been able to buy into the character. It is not the fault of Cobb who is his usual stalwart self in the role. The whole character should at best have only been necessary for a few brief scenes yet; he has several that go on way too long and do not add anything to the story. Even in his scenes with Chris or Damian, Kinderman is so odd that he distracts us too much from their characters and it is Chris and Damian's reactions that are more important to us, not his investigation. For all you trivia buffs out there, Blatty once sued the producers of Columbo, stating they based Peter Falk's character on Kinderman. If memory serves me correctly Blatty lost that one.

    As for Director William Friedken, although he won the best director award for The French Connection, for me The Exorcist will always remain his defining film. The Final half hour of The Exorcist are still as dynamic today as they were 31 years ago, French Connection car chase be damned.

    It seems that to many of the younger movie audiences of today, The Exorcist has become more of a joke than anything else. That's not surprising considering how many times it has been lampooned, even by Linda Blair herself in Repossessed. Yet, if they were to view the film in a more serious vein, not as just another creature feature, they may just find that there really is more to this film than a little girl spewing pea soup and spinning her head around 360 degrees. It is the ultimate battle between Heaven and Hell and Good and Evil. It is the story of the complete and total degradation of innocence. It is a study in character, and whether a man torn by the forces surrounding him, can regain his faith and his belief in God and mankind to save the life of a little girl, caught up in forces beyond her control.

    Call it a horror film, call it a religious film, call it what you want. For me, The Exorcist is and will always remain a classic in every sense of the word. And if I regard you as a classic of any kind I have no choice but to leave you with my grade, which for The Exorcist is an A.
  • Some movies are landmarks. This is one of them.

    Good : There are a lot of goods that I can talk about this particular film. First off, every gothic horror, for example, The Conjuring, are inspired by this film in one way or the other. But, none of them are as good as this one. I love Conjuring 1 & 2, but that might have never existed if it weren't for this movie. So, what makes it so good? We are given a mysterious introduction to an old priest who would play a prominent role later. It gives layers to the character of young priest, which is quite interesting. The set up is done quite well. The story is being told quite well. And it has the most important aspect that most horror films today lack - the dread and actually terrifying scenes. Right from the opening credits, it feels uneasy. It tries to give us a really terrifying vibe. And it just intensifies further and further. Even the scenes having no tension don't feel like so. And, it cuts to some terrifying scenes so suddenly but smoothly that we will be exclaiming "holy (you know what)!". That's some true horror film. It was 1973. You had absolutely no technology or CGI. They still made an entire bed shake which looked so scary and realistic! The 180 degree turn is still an awesome effect. They did it way better, and all of it looked more realistic than CGI! It had some ideas involving Ouija board and exorcism, which are now termed as "clichés". Having watched so many horror films before watching this, it should've felt corny. But it felt real good. There is probably no horror movie, in particular a supernatural or gothic horror movie, that has not been inspired by this movie in some way or the other. And the ones which got as many things right as possible as in this one, were respectively better. This movie is a masterpiece!!

    Bad : It has sequels. Damn those pathetic sequels!! But again, good God almighty, only few people know about those stupid movies.

    Conclusion : It is a must watch for every horror fan. Some parts may feel clichéd to some, but that's where those "clichés" started. Go with a fresh mind and examine how it all started. I am optimistic that you will love it.

    Rating.

    Score : absolute 10/10

    Grade : A+
  • There is a reason for the hysteria and mystique surrounding THE EXORCIST. And it's called genius.

    Never have I seen a film matched in shock, terror, writing, or performances. This isn't a horror movie. The film itself is both a moving and terrifying drama that takes a realistic look at what would actually happen if a young girl were possessed in modern America. William Peter Blatty's script is amazing, bringing depth to the characters, and presenting the mystery of faith that they all deal with. Is Regan possessed? Is she insane? And most importantly, Is there a God? In the course of two hours, we see a sweet and innocent young girl become a cross masturbating, head spinning, murderous, creature. We see a successful actress overcome skepticism to save her daughter, and we see a brilliant psychiatrist struggle with his devotion to God as a priest.

    Friedkin's direction is marvelous, with wonderful uses of light, dark, and color throughout the film. Jason Miller (as Damien Karras) is beautifully subtle in his first film acting role. Max Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb provide engaging supporting performances as the experienced priest who senses his impending doom, and a detective who senses something sinister is at work. Ellen Burstyn gives a brutally honest performance as a grief stricken woman trying to save her daughter. And most of all, a 12-year-old Linda Blair gives one of the most terrifying, convincing, and beautiful performances ever shown on film. Her range of emotion and connection to Regan are astonishing. She deserved that Oscar!

    THE EXORCIST presents to us the mystery of faith in it's most raw form--the battle of good and evil. It is an incomparable masterpiece of film, done without the aid of computers and special effects. It relies on story and performances to give us a marvelous and terrifying piece of work. In the end, it makes us ask ourselves what we believe, and keeps us wondering and shuddering at exactally what might be out there.
  • The Exorcist is one of the best movies to come out of the 70's and deserves better than slowly descending down the top 250. It's one of those essential films you have to see in order to understand what a movie truly is and this is more than a horror film. Unfortunately there are so many people who are saying they got bored, I think because they expected a terrifying movie, people! This isn't a slasher movie, this isn't some scary Michael Myers that you can shoot, this is a story about normal people in a normal house and upstairs there is a little girl who happens to be possessed by "The devil himself". Faith is so strong and when it's shaken, anything in your imagination can run wild.

    First off the actors: Ellen Burstyn plays Chris McNeil, an actress working in Washington, D.C. on a film. She is the mother of Regan, the little girl who is possessed. I felt such sorrow for Chris, when she begs Father Karras to help her with Regan, I almost cried for her. Her daughter is not sick, this is nothing she can give Regan a pill and she'll be better. Her speech to Father Karras later on in the film: "You show me Regan's double, same face, same voice, everything. And I'd know it wasn't Regan. I'd know in my gut. Now, I want you to tell me that you know for a fact that there's nothing wrong with my daughter, except in her mind. You tell me for a fact that an exorcism wouldn't do any good! You tell me that!" sent shivers down my spine, this woman knows what Regan needs and will do whatever she can.

    We have Linda Blair who plays Regan and she was so great for a 12 year old actress. This little apple faced girl became one of the most frightening images of the 70's and still to this day. She's not scary because she's swearing, this little innocent girl has been taken over by forces that she shouldn't even know about. Jason Miller as Father Karras, for a man who had never acted professionally before, he was quite amazing as a priest who just lost his mother and his faith has been shaken up. Max Von Sydow as Father Merrin was so strong and he was like in his 20's playing a man in his 90's. He was robbed of an Oscar, he was so believable and just amazing during the exorcism scene.

    The effects? People! This was the 70's and they made a bed float! They turned this little angel's face into a hideous creature! If you watch the documentary "Fear of God: The Making of the Exorcist", Ellen Burstyn gets slapped by Regan in the film and she had kind of a rope tied around her waist. When the stunt man pulled her back, Billy the director told the guy to let her have it and he YANKED her back hard causing real pain in Ellen's back and that was an actual scream in the movie. They froze the room to the point as were moisture got into the set and there was a layer of snow in the morning they were shooting. There was no CGI, this was the real deal and I believe could truly help the actors. Linda Blair was being thrashed up and down during one of the possessed scenes where the bracing came loose and caused slamming of metal to her back repeatedly and her screams were also very real and bone chilling.

    William Freidkin is the director of The Exorcist, and there was no better choice. This guy took this picture seriously, so far as to shoot a gun offstage or scream obscenities to get an actor's shocked reaction on film. He slapped almost punched Reverend William O'Malley who played Father Dyer to get him to shake during his reciting the Last Rites to Father Karras. He almost would have killed to make this picture and anyone doing it.

    Weither or not the set of The Exorcist was truly cursed with a total of 9 deaths linked to the film, a fire on the set with no apparent reason, and the total feeling of evil around the room, we'll never know. But The Exorcist is a true motion picture never to missed or deserve no more than the true compliments it should get! This is the film that should be shown to any aspiring film makers. It's a masterpiece of a film that's more than a mere horror flick.

    10/10
  • Many people complain that this movie's too slow but those are the kind of folks who only like 80-minute splatter films with characters so dumb and one-sided, you pray for the bad guy to kill them. This monster of a drama is both beautiful and bold. It has CHARACTERS and not simply LAMEBRAINS lined up for slaughter. It has class and purpose. It takes the audience into the darkest recesses of humankind and then brings them back through a message of hope and self-sacrifice. The movie is NOT anti-religion, it's anti-evil. Anyone who likes smart, clever, meaningful horror-drama should see this film at least twice. It is surprisingly touching and amazingly powerful.

    That said, the cast deserves a hand for their wonderful performances. Ellen Burstyn perfectly conveys the tension of a mother of the cusp of tragedy; Max von Sydow is hauntingly perfect as the story's ray of light; Jason Miller embodies the sadness of a defeated man; and Linda Blair is far above average even at her young age.

    Once again, see this movie. You won't forget it.
  • knersisman21 October 2018
    Stunning visuals, effects and overall horror for 1973. The characters are very strongly portrayed and the feeling of hopelessness is ever-present throughout the movie. Even though some scenes are outright shocking and provocative, there is also a strong element of the uncanny present. This is a very haunting movie that still shocks, amazes and intrigues after all these years.
  • I recently revisited this film on Blu-ray after some 45 years. It still rates as one of my favourite horror films, one of my top ten films and a masterpiece of film making. Beautiful photography, great locations, sets, special effects and acting. It still stands up as a great film today
  • "The scariest movie of all time". Some movie goers agree and some disagree. I belong to the former group, though I would like to rephrase it to "One of the scariest movies of all time". For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past twenty two years, the story is of a pre-pubescent girl, Regan (Linda Blair), possessed by a demon whom purports to be the Devil himself ("Now kindly undo these straps!").

    In this day and age of schlock fest horror films being relentlessly released (or spewed out for want of a better term) by the big wig studios on a quest to cash in on the latest teenage trend, this premise for a horror story may not seem so scary to most. However, it's the road we take to arrive at this supposition that makes this film stand out from the rest.

    The seeds of dread and fear are planted early with screen legend Max Von Sydow's Father Merrin receiving disturbing and familiar Omens of what is to come during an archaeological dig in Northern Iraq.

    We're then taken to the setting where the real horror will begin in the Georgetown home of Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), a successful divorcée film actress living with her daughter Regan. We're initially presented with a Regan who loves horses, has a close and loving relationship with her mother, is uncomfortable with the strained relationship between her parents and has the innocent demeanour and narrow vocabulary of every normal young girl.

    The carefully crafted and ever so gradual change in Regan's personality, the strange drawings and figurines she creates, the emergence of Captain Howdy (Regan's imaginary friend) and strange outbursts ("You're gonna die up there") and so called physical convulsions force Chris to turn to doctors and eventually psychiatrists to try and get to the bottom of Regan's ever worsening behaviour. Her vocabulary becomes quite extensive with spine chilling, sudden maturity and her outbursts more terrifyingly violent. After exhausting all the "somatic" possibilities for Regan's troubles Chris desperately seeks help from world weary Jesuit Psychiatrist Priest Father Karras (Jason Miller) requesting an exorcism.

    By the time Karras meets Regan, any semblance of the innocent young girl has completely vanished. Karras is grappling with his faith and subsequently doubts she is truly 'possessed'. Finally convinced that an exorcism is the way to go, he seeks permission from the Catholic Church, who grant him with the condition that he perform it with the help of the experienced Father Merrin.

    Merrin arrives like a knight in shining armour for the ultimate showdown! A great screenplay by William Peter Blatty (based on his book), intelligent directing from William Friedken and outstanding performances from all the cast, particularly Ellen Burstyn as the traumatised mother make for a classic piece of horror that will stand the test of time. 10/10
  • The Exorcist is simply a masterpiece. Great Cinematography darkens the atmosphere and a superb screenplay enhances the dialog. There is plenty of excellent actors in this film as well. Loads of great performances from actors such as: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow. I pressure you to see the re-edited one. Trust me, it's not a remake. It's a better editing of sound and picture, and even some NEW footage that is of the same quality.

    If you enjoy horror movies of any kind, and/or like a good drama, this film is for you. A Head-spinning performance from Linda Blair makes it even more horrific, seeing a little innocent child getting possessed by a horrid demon. Ellen Burstyn give another great performance, as a mother going through shock and worry about what is happening to her daughter. This acting is all together very powerful, realistic and leaves for a better cinematic experience overall.

    Other great notable parts of the movie, are the satisfying amount of good dialog, quotes, and scenes. Gut-wrenching horror conjoins with gritty drama in this absolutely awe-inspiring movie. See it for yourself if you haven't yet, you must; because it is definitely a memorable film.

    4 of 4 Stars
  • For as long as I can recall, I've always possessed (no pun intended) an innate feeling that there exists outside the realm of our established dogma things that defy conventional logic. When I was in the sixth grade, I read the book, "The Exorcist," which scared me senseless. The idea that the Devil could infiltrate the delicate core of one's being called a soul absolutely terrified me at such a young age. After seeing the movie, I was speechless. Have been ever since. William Friedkin's transformation of the book to the movie was superb, in my opinion. (Not all adaptations are.) Dick Smith's special effects, in contrast to today's make-up advancements in the film industry, are still able to stand the test of time. The acting was splendid, from Lee J. Cobb & Jason Miller, to Ellen Burstyn and Max von Sydow's limited appearance in the piece. Friedkin's slice-of-life direction enhances the essence of the fear-factor in an oddly subtle fashion, as though the viewer were actually alongside the characters in the film. Lending to the creepiness of the film is the fact that there exists a minimal musical score (Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" does accompany two nuns strolling gingerly down a Georgetown street in autumn, their robes billowing slightly in the wind). The palpability of what happens to a young Linda Blair has astounded me for over three decades. Having been so taken with the notion that inhuman entities DO stalk the earth and have never existed in human form, I've written a couple of novels on the subject matter, myself. I liken the new version that had been released a few years ago to the last nail in the proverbial coffin of effectiveness, making this one of the best horror-genre films of all time. Simply put: I've never seen any film that remotely comes close to what this movie has done to me (in terms of frightening me senseless). Linda Blair's cute Regan MacNeil is utterly transformed into a beast which is flat-out disturbing to behold. The movie has moved me ever since I had seen it at age fourteen, and I suspect will always. Put simply, at age forty-three I still have a difficult time watching it on my own. Great job, Mr. Friedkin and crew!
  • The Exorcist is the best horror film ever made and there is one reason for this,the subject matter is treated with dignity and respect,too many "horror films" are made today that just don't try,it's as if they give up half way through and fall into self parody and amusement.the Exorcist is an exception and one of the very few good horror films around.the film works on a number of levels and is one of the few films I know of to do this i.e subliminal imagery,multiple storylines. a lot has been written about this film drawing mainly on sensationalism surrounding the films release that it would be hard for someone who has not seen the film to not have any preconceptions,but if you have not seen the film do try to keep an open mind because it will scare the hell out of you.this is also one of the rare cases where a film could arguably be better than the book it was adapted from.in my opinion the film could not have been made any better,the cast throughout are superb, the locations and production are second to none,all the characters are totally believable and there are points in the film where you think all this could really happen and it is for that reason the film is frightening and continues to frighten people to this day....a true shocker and one that has not lost any of its impact over the years.
  • Two terrible sequels and one irrelevant remake were never replaced with the original, the 1973 version of The Exorcist; and no other version will never be any more. Written for the screen and produced by William Peter Blatty, both The Exorcist movie and the novel are incident driven basis of the actual happenings from 1949.

    Looking at the most remarkable movies of 1973, there are 3 other important ones that the history of cinema will remember: -- A slow and touching movie from Ingmar Bergman "Cries and Whispers" -- Bernardo Bertolucci's depressive movie, a study of love "Last Tango in Paris" -- A crime story with Redford and Newman "The Sting". Among all and all the other movies that are produced in this year, The Exorcist stands one step further than the rest for its uniqueness on genre renewal. It's not the first movie that features the Demon in its content, yet in the Exorcist the Demon is introduced in the human level. The idea of being possessed by a spirit is used for the first time ever on the silver-screen. Horror genre featuring spirits didn't need to refer to Crime any more like it used to be in Hitchcock ages. Thus crime became a separate genre, and mostly acted conjointly with thrillers from now on.

    This uniqueness profits from its sound mixing, great lighting techniques and of course a perfect screenplay. Director William Friedkin was lucky to find his producer Blatty, being also the novel-writer and the idea creator. The plot and the story development goes very smoothly: From Father Merrin's encountering with the Demon Pazuzu in Iraq; to Ellen Burstyn looking for the cure for her daughter's disease, going for visits to every type of doctor... From the noises in the attic, to Regan's peeing on the rug... From decoding the Demon's speech of speaking English in reverse, to the arriving of Merrin... Both the editing and directing gave high qualities to this film.

    The 25th Anniversary edition DVD is in my movie collections. It's a must to have for horror fans. Either you have this version of DVD or the year 2000 version; you should check out the special features that reveals the real-life 1949 incident, the missing and the deleted scenes including the Spider-walk scene, sound mixing and sound effects tests show how they created the demon's voice and the BBC documentary: The Fear of God, all in the special features.
  • What scares us more than anything? The answers are multiple : the dark, the evil, a mysterious presence, death ultimately; in fact, anything incontrollable. And when you think about it, all these elements have something in common: they refer to an unknown force whose presence is palpable. Indeed, the unknown scares, because it can't be seen, can't be controlled, therefore, can't be fought.

    These are the primitives fears that tortured the life of people since the dawn of humanity, and we inherited this fears in the same unconscious way our children will. We're aware of our mortal nature, and each of our fears is driven by this awareness, which is due to the biggest fear, the fear of the unknown. And the genius of "The Exorcist" is that it perfectly plays on these primitive instincts of ours, to provide the greatest Horror film ever made, a thrilling masterpiece of realism that'll haunt cinematic memories for ever.

    As soon as the Tubular bells start ringing, the film is inhabited by an atmosphere that will never desert it, a fearsome and gloomy ambiance absorbing any place we're watching the film in. Everything is directed with such confidence and meticulousness, the thrills almost come precociously. Indeed, before anything happens, we feel something WILL happen, but we don't know what. It seems like a cinematic trick, but not any director has the guts to let you wait more than almost half an hour before the oddities happen. The set-up is slow paced in "The Exorcist" because it's a movie that respects our intelligence, and doesn't try to provide cheap thrills. William Friedkin who had just made another realistic masterpiece, the Best Picture Winner "The French Connection" is so confident he gives us enough time to discover the characters, to get into their daily life, patiently waiting for the pivotal point that will join their fates. The direction, the writing are all in subtlety, and work because even though nothing happens yet, we keep our guard up, we know there's an evil presence somewhere, we can feel it.

    This is an old cinematic device started by directors who hadn't enough money to portray credible monster-type villains: they understood that sometimes, the scare is more efficient from the suggestion of a presence than its explicit depiction. When you see, you know, and if you know, you can control, but in "The Exorcist", the villain is here, but we never see him, he's like the shark from "Jaws" or "Alien", with a slight difference, he's not visible because he controls the body of a poor little girl. Linda Blair, as the demonically possessed Regan MacNeil , is so convincing, it broke my heart to see how the evil can have so devastating effects on a pure little soul. And the tragedy of Regan is the torment of her mother, Chris, Ellen Burstyn, perfect as a totally helpless woman, incapable of saving her little girl. And this is the fascinating aspect of the film, more than a horror drama, it also works as a thrilling mystery. A mystery where the Lieutenant Detective Kinderman, Lee J. Cobb in one of his great last roles, is the one who investigates about the strange phenomena that occurred and acts as a bridge between the victims and the priests.

    So many questions are raised in the beginning, we understand that sooner or later, we'll have an exorcism. Well, it's the title, isn't it? But the set-up is necessary. The parallel stories where we're transported into the universes of Father Damien Karras, portrayed by Jason Miller, and the iconic Father Merryl, Max Von Sydow, challenge our patience: we can't wait for the exorcism ... but without the build-up, the climax would be worthless. It's a movie where any flaws can be caused by an impatience from the director, an eagerness to distract the masses with thrilling moments, but a big impatience could have ruined such a magnificent and ambitious project. And "The Exorcist" would never have been the masterpiece it is without this patience. However, this would never have been such an iconic horror masterpiece without the few horrifying moments that punctuate the movie between the set-up and the climax. And by horrifying, I won't give any clues, let's just say it works on every level: visual, sounds, atmosphere, cinematography, dialogs, special effects, and of course, timing, since all these effects come at the least expected moments, provoking reactions in total symbiosis with the characters. We feel and fear for them, as the realism implies that it could even happen to us. This is no Hollywood, this is true horror.

    Lately, the American Film institute listed the Top 100 movies and I must admit I was shocked not to see "The Exorcist" in the list... it's a classic, probably the most horrifying horror film ever made. It has everything, a dazzling cinematography incarnated by the iconic shot of Father Merryl's shadowy silhouette coming from the mist, an unforgettable villain, and of course shocking moments where the make-up, the visual and sound effects prove how vital they are for such a genre that relies so much on realism. But this realism would have been nothing without the genius of the script and the masterful direction, that could finally let the film exude all its greatness in the last act, one of the most unforgettable climactic sequences ever, putting "The Exorcist" among those films that transcends the simple act of watching, becoming more of experiences.

    And this is why I waited for years and years before finally getting to watch "The Exorcist", one of the few movies that scared me even before watching it. And all I can say is that it met my expectations. And watching it at night (with someone, I would recommend) gets more hypnotic and absorbing after each viewing … "The Exorcist" is a must-see and ... be careful, any second, it can surprise you, really
  • A young girl becomes possessed by a demon. Her skin becomes a grayish color and stays that way. Two Catholic priests are asked to remove this demon from her. While demanding that the demon leave her body, some of her skin rips open and her head even spins around. An image of a demon appears luminating across from them over the girl in her bed on her knees, wincing. The image almost looks like a hologram. In another scene she does the crabwalk down the stairs. What are her parents going to do? Will they ever get their little girl back? Watch The Exorcist to find out.
  • Malcs22 March 2000
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've never really been much of a fan of horror films because I've never been able to suspend my belief long enough to let a monster scare me. To me psychological demons are much more effective than overdone makeup jobs. I prefer The Haunting with Claire Bloom, or The Shining with Jack Nicholson. But the all-time classic has got to be The Exorcist. One of the reasons The Exorcist always scares the bejesus out of me is because it treats an epistemological subject very seriously, even when the one character you'd expect to step forth willingly, young priest Father Karras (Jason Miller), does his best to dissuade Ellen Burstyn that her daughter is possessed by a demon. Of course, by that time Karras has already confessed to a fellow priest that he's started to lose his own faith because he realizes that the problems he has to deal with of his congregation are too much for one man, especially a man who keeps neglecting his own mother during the last days of her life. I think one of the reasons this is such a successful film is that the concept of a demon is treated as intangibly as our imagination's reach: How WOULD the devil deal with us if confronted? By reading each of our souls, finding whatever carefully hidden secrets there are and spewing them back in our faces as spiritual ammunition. Not only that, but when you see Regan (Linda Blair) in the opening scenes gently horseplaying around with her mother and her sister, the charm and goodness she radiates leaves you completely floored when she finally does become possessed and turns into a creature so horrible that you forget all about Regan. The lynchpin is having Max von Sydow cast as the aging priest who comes to finish off the work that Father Karras has started. Von Sydow who has been Ingmar Bergman's spiritual warrior for so many of his films dealing with the epistemological nature of the universe. And credit must go to Mercedes McCambridge for supplying the voice of the demon.

    I think The Exorcist is one of the best "lit" and photographed films of all time. The use of shadow is brilliant; very low key (simple things like showing a lit hall, yet having the far stairway at the END of the hall not lit...very subtly eerie stuff) yet incredibly evocative. I mean, the shadows damn near have colors. Director of Photography Owen Roizman, whose work can be seen in "The Addams Family" and "Grand Canyon," shot "The Exorcist." Roizman's credits include such famous titles as "The French Connection," "Network," "Tootsie," "Three Days of the Condor," "The Electric Horseman" and "Havana." In a movie that took 180 days to make (three times the average), the exorcism alone took three months-and on some of those days the crew felt lucky to get one shot. That was because director William Friedkin wanted to make it visually clear that the satanic spirit inside the possessed girl had made the room unbearably cold. A refrigerated set representing her bedroom was constructed on a sound stage, and air conditioners worked all night to lower its temperature to 40 degrees below zero. "When we set up the lights in the morning, that would raise the temperature to around zero, which was necessary if we were going to be able to see the frost on the actor's breath," Roizman explained. "We also kept the humidity very high. It was an unbelievably uncomfortable way to work."

    Look closely using stop-action laserdisc to reveal the flash-frames of Satan's face, which Friedkin inserted almost subliminally at two places, and to reveal a subtle double-exposure in which the evil spirit seems to peer out through Blair's eyes. There are semi-subliminal single-frame shots in this film: when the priest is dreaming of his mother coming up out of the subway, there is a single frame shot of a face (Eileen Dietz), painted black and white, grimacing. There are two other places where this image is supposedly displayed: when Regan, lying on the bed, turns to look at Father Merrin and Father Karras, and just after the head-turning scene. Do not watch this alone.
  • I was influenced into watching this film after maybe the 100th listen to Mike Oldfield's masterpiece "Tubular Bells" (the full, 48-minute album, not the 4-minute edit!), which was used in this movie's soundtrack. I wasn't exactly frightened or scared by the movie. I was expecting something gory and gruesome in this movie, but oh, was I wrong. And that's good, because I don't like movies that are gratuitously gory and gruesome. This movie is anything but gratuitous. I wasn't scared, but I was amazed and fascinated by the atmosphere, intelligent story and masterful filmmaking. It feels really genuine, and there are maybe 2 or 3 movies I have seen that felt genuine. It's a beautiful story about faith, and deals with the "good vs. evil" scheme in an unusual way. There are so many layers to the story, it's difficult to discuss them all in one or two paragraphs. Suffice to say, all of those different elements come together seamlessly. The story is beautiful. The build up of tension is truly gripping. It is not scary, it's disturbing. Those looking for gory scarefests should look somewhere else. I was truly intrigued by the movie, and the glorious resolution was both shocking and uplifting. Did good defeat evil, after all? That's up for the viewers to decide.

    A haunting movie, this is - especially for Mr. Oldfield, whose "Tubular Bells" would haunt him for 30 years.
  • More than thirty years on, The Exorcist remains a very powerful film and was a cinematographic milestone in 1973. Repeated duplication of the genre has, no doubt, 'desensitized' a new generation of movie-watchers, though it remains an unnerving masterpiece. It is not difficult to understand why the film generated such a seismic global impact all those years ago, since it imposed an unprecedented sensory attack on the viewer. Regan's vile physical appearance, combined with her vile language and blasphemous diatribe sent a shock wave around the world. Moreover, many people seemed to believe the claims that the film was based on a true story and could therefore actually happen to them. Electricity consumption must have soared for several months in 1973 as people who had seen the film slept with their lights on! It is still not a film I would feel comfortable watching before going to bed. On another level, I found parts of it profoundly moving and actually cried at the end when Regan was finally released from her possessor and wept in the arms of her mother and Father Damien, having lunged himself through a window and down a precipitous flight of steps, managed to find just enough life in himself to indicate that he had retained his faith and repented of his sins by motioning his fingers in the sign of penitence when comforted by a distraught colleague. Possibly the only thing that lets the film down if one really sits and thinks about it is the underpinning concept that an ancient demon which had existed since the dawn of time should wish to possess the body of a twelve year old child and emit a string of juvenile profanities. But then the film was designed to shock all along!
  • This known story concerns about a mother (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter (Linda Blair), the latter is possessed and two Fathers , Karras (Jason Miller) and Merrin (Max Von Sidow) attempt to free Regan MacNeil from possession by the devil . Meanwhile , a Police Inspector (Lee J. Cobb) is investigating the weird events . And the priests suffering incredible risks trying to unravel mystery of demon living inside Regan .

    This is a fairly suspenseful and horrifying story, based on a supposedly true flick . The movie begins well and grows more and more until the scary and eerie finale . Top-notch picture, thanks to fine acting , tight pacing , well mounted edition and skillful special effects with magnificent make-up by Dick Smith . Creepy acting by Linda Blair , due to death threats against Linda Blair from religious zealots who believed the film "glorified Satan", Warner Bros had bodyguards protecting her for six months after the film's release . On the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Linda Blair's delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max Von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines . The script is awesome , the acting excellent and the direction by William Friedkin plenty of good pace and conviction . Enjoyable secondary cast such as Lee J Cobb , Kitty Winn and Jack McGowran who died at the time finished the movie and added a legend about Exorcist's curse . Dark cinematography in sinister and mysterious atmosphere by Owen Roitzman and frightening musical score adding Mike Oldfield's soundtrack ¨Tubular bells¨ . The tale is rated ¨R¨ for graphic violence and profanity but contains gore and guts . Reiussed in 2000 by means of a special edition by director with ten minutes approximately additional footage with new amazing scenes as Regan downing stairs .

    Followed by two sequels and numerous imitations , in 1977 ¨the Heretic¨ by John Borman with Richard Burton , deemed awful and in 1990 titled ¨The Exorcist III¨ by William Peter Blatty with George C Scott, Brad Dourif , Ed Flanders and Nicol Williamson . Furthermore, spawned two prequels starred by a young Father Merrin , Stellan Skarsgard , and set in Africa , both of them directed by Paul Schrader and Renny Harlin .
  • Among the most authentic horror ever made with shockingly well done practical effects! Best of everything, Regan (Linda Blair) and Damien Karres (Jason Miller) were so damn good! Nothing to judge about this incredible film, it's better than hundreds of horrors out there especially possession wise it's spot on with grossness and very disturbing satanic aspects. Christians wouldn't be happy to watch this lol.
  • mjw230531 January 2005
    This is a very highly rated horror movie for a good reason, when it was realised it broke the mould of everything that preceded it, and set the standard for the horror genre for decades to come; because of this it should retain its place Movie history forever.

    The sheer terror this movie instilled in people, during the year of its release is even today unmatched by anything. Time, however has altered its effect on its audience, we simply are not as easily shocked as we used to be.

    For anyone who hasn't seen this movie yet, my advice is this, approach it with an open mind, and remember when it was made, this is the only way you will appreciate it for what it is.

    Difficult for new audiences to appreciate, but it is still a classic, time won't change that.

    8/10
  • One of my all time favorites! This is a classic horror film, from the content, to the lighting, editing, sounds, and special effects. The lighting is that of a classic horror film using lack of lighting and shadows as a trademark. Other lighting effects were used as well to add to the overall feel of the movie. The editing was flawless helping to add to the overall content of the film. The sounds were amazing! The sound effects used during the "demon" scenes make the film believable. While the special effects and editing used again during the "demon" scenes seemed effortless, making the film as a whole truly convincing. What an overall amazing classic horror film!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This one has lost none of its power to shock or terrify.

    You've heard of the head spinning round, the green vomit, probably even the crucifix masturbation scene.

    That doesn't prepare you.

    It's not the material itself that makes it so shocking, although, over forty years later, even the language retains an edge. I've still never heard that variation of the c-word in any other movie, I don't think.

    It's the direction, which always takes you by surprise, which lulls you into a state of security it punctures again and again until finally letting the horror take over like a bad dream you can't wake up from.

    It's the screenplay, too. This is a movie about people. About people suffering an unspeakable trauma. About people driven to the edge where the supernatural meets them.

    It's not about special effects or shocking violence.

    The characters live and breathe, you feel what they feel, even the disbelief.

    The Exorcist carries you along. It takes you to places you don't want to go, working its magic in ways you can never fully understand.

    And it remains shocking and terrifying.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Exorcist (1973): Dir: William Friedkin / Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb: Terrifying masterpiece based on the book by William Peter Blatty. There are many Biblical accounts where Jesus himself drove demons out of people, so an exorcist is obviously someone who rids what doesn't belong. Ellen Burstyn stars as an actress whose daughter is possessed by demonic forces. After the shocking image of her daughter screaming atop a shaking bed, she seeks professional help. When doctors fail in finding answers it is suggested that a Priest see the girl. Intelligent, shocking with a sense of insight where Burstyn asks the right questions regarding exorcism. Quite an accomplishment for director William Friedkin who previously made another masterpiece in The French Connection. Burstyn brilliantly mirrors frustration mixed with fear. Linda Blair is both sympathetic and commanding as the possessed victim. Jason Miller plays a troubled Priest whom questions his faith after his mother's death. Lee J. Cobb steals moments as a police inspector. Then there is Max Von Sydow is compelling as the exorcist who sensed the demonic force in the film's opening and ultimately understands the standoff he will eventually face. A masterpiece in horror with excellent makeup and spellbinding measures of faith. Score: 10 / 10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I reflect back on the movies of the 1970's, I'm struck by how many of them helped reinvigorate their respective genres. There was "Star Wars" for fantasy, "Alien" for sci-fi, and "Jaws" for the shark crowd, though I don't think that's really a genre. For horror fans, "The Exorcist" was the one that had everyone talking in 1973, and not only talking, but lining up around the block to get a chance to see it. In fact, the first time I tried, the person directly in front of me in line was the last one allowed in for that showing.

    When I finally did get to see it, the experience left a marked impression. It was fascinating, horrific, sensational and scary all at the same time. Having read the book, I wondered how much liberty would be taken with the story, but it was pretty much all there. At the time, hands down, it was the most frightening film I'd ever seen.

    The movie played last night as part of AMC's Halloween Fest, and though largely sanitized for TV, the impact of the film is still alive and well. It's a movie that plants a nagging seed of doubt in one's mind - what would happen if Satan himself could take over the body and soul of an innocent young girl? The gradual unfolding of the parallel stories in "The Exorcist" are built on credible real life situations, so that by the time Linda Blair's demon face appears on screen, you're ready to grab the holy water and say a prayer.

    Now if you're a younger viewer born of a more recent era, I'll grant that the film might not have the same effect. Though Blair's possession makeup was visually stunning at the time, special effects since then have far surpassed that effort. But it had to start somewhere, and as a precursor to virtually everything that followed, this was the one to top. And when Regan's head spins, yikes!, but I thought mine would too. For 1973, that was an incredible piece of work, with visuals that stay with you long after the film is over.
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