Director: William Friedkin
Producer: William Peter Blatty
Screenplay: William Peter Blatty
Stars: Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max Von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller
The Exorcist taught me a great deal about demons and what they do to occupy their time while on holiday from the pits of Hell. For instance, did you know that demons delight in entering children more often than a Catholic priest with a Super Soaker full of chloroform? How about their fondness for pissing on floors, walking like crabs, or shoving crosses in their tiny vaginas? I'll bet before the Exorcist most people were unaware that demons enjoyed tossing priests out the window (an act which I consider to be their only attribute).
I don't normally watch movies without radioactive men that turn green when you piss them off, and I certainly don't have much to do with the horror genera, but The Exorcist is a different kind of film altogether. It's directed well, acted well, written well, and introduced me to one of the greatest lines in the history of cinema; "Your mother sucks cocks in Hell." A wonderful phrase I have insisted on using at least once a week since I first heard it at the age of twelve.
I've long considered The Exorcist to be the second scariest movie I've ever seen, right behind Sister Act 2, Back in the Habit. And much like Sister Act 2, The Exorcist has managed to retain a high level of creepiness over the many years since its release. It also managed to do something all great movies do, it told a story. And not just any story, but one based on actual events, or so people who spend too much time in isolation tanks, would have you believe.
The push by Warner Brothers to bolster the idea it was based on real events helped to drive curious teenagers and rebellious Christians to the theatre in droves. I've tried several times to find solid evidence that the events depicted in the movie were based in reality, but I keep getting distracted by cat videos and Pinterest, so I have no idea if it's true or not. My guess would be that since a fiction writer came up with it, Hollywood promoted it, and the church believed it, you would either have to be foolish, or full of bath salts, to think there was any truth behind it. (This argument also applies to Scientology.)
As good as The Exorcist is, it does have its share of flaws, most of which are contained within the writing. An example of this would be the choice to use a demon from Hell as the antagonist. As an atheist I find the concept of Hell and all the horrors contained within to be silly and implausible. Had the writers chosen to dispense with all the religious drivel, replacing the demon with a giant robot who shoots laser beams from its eyes, and the little girl with a twenty storey Ferret-lizard from the bottom of the sea, the movie would have been far more realistic than it was, although admittedly, completely different.
It also leaves us with a great deal of unanswered questions, like why does this demonic fiend, who's voice sounds very much like that of a male, choose to enter the body of a female? The most simplistic answer would be that this devil is a creepy pervert no one should let dog-sit their poodle. But how about we look at it from a more compassionate angle. Perhaps this vomit spewing demon is just a poor, frightened soul, suffering from gender identity issues. The possession of Regan may not be an act of malevolence at all, rather a way for a very confused entity to express the overwhelming inner femininity it's been forced to repress by an unsympathetic, and indifferent, Satan. Or, it could just be that demons are complete ass holes who like fucking with the weakest among us. I think they're all equally possible.
And then we get to the question of why Father Karras has such a difficult time accepting Chris MacNeil's assertion that her daughter is possessed. It's my understanding that people who enter the clergy do so because they actually believe in the magic of the bible. To believe Jesus will return one day with Hershey Kisses and free health care, yet not believe Satan might let his homies throw a party in a twelve year old, seems like inconsistent thinking to me. One is certainly no less improbable than the other. Which is why I'm so surprise that as far as box office goes, The Exorcist did worse among Christians, than Porkies did among feminists.
Christians berated this movie at it's opening. They called it fictional, Hollywood, drivel. They argued the theology, questioned the subject matter, and eventually formed roving gangs of do-gooders, who surrounded the theatres at midday, calling people sinners, and passing out propaganda leaflets that homeless people eventually used for toilet paper.
(*fake news warning*) It was also reported that twelve evangelical leaders from "Takin' It Up The Backside, For Christ, Ministries," were arrested in August of 1973, while attempting to gain access to the projection booth of a South Carolina theatre. Slipping past security posing as the Apostles, the group attempted to switch out The Exorcist print, for a copy of 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', a movie which is not only not the greatest story ever told, it doesn't even beat Freddie Got Fingered.
Many times in the past I've been disappointed to find a movie I had loved as a child doesn't live up to the standards I apply today. Luckily, The Exorcist is not one of those movies. I guarantee that if you haven't seen it in twenty years, or you've never seen it at all, this movie will scare the shit out of you. But don't watch it on television, that wont do. Nothing ruins the tension more than being interrupted by a tampon commercial right before Regan barfs on the priest.
You've probably heard people say they didn't think it was a very scary, but never mind those fools. The Exorcist is scary, and will make you squirt a little pee on your couch, so remember to sit on a plastic sheet while viewing. And even if you're not scared, so what, the movie only costs $4.99 at Walmart, and takes about two hours to watch. If you hate it, you've lost very little, if you love it, you'll never sleep with the lights off again. It's a win, win.
If I had to score this movie out of a trillion, I probably wouldn't, because it would take too long to type the numbers out, but if I had to score it out of 1.763, I would definitely give The Exorcist a solid 1.378, which is good. It looses a few points because The Hulk is not in it, and the music makes me want to punch myself in the face, but it gains a few points back for having the courage to kill all the priests off.
So if you don't have anything better to do, or you're just looking to kill some time at work, The Exorcist is a great escape that you're sure to love.