Whether you’re a fan of the movie or not, there are no valid points arguing the fact that BOTH the 1971 novel and 1973 film are nothing short of a massive achievement in both the horror genre and filmmaking in general. What many people call “The scariest movie of all time” has left it’s imprint of terror on people, even to this day. In 1973 when the film first premiered it caused QUITE a stir all over the nation. It was like nothing anyone has ever seen on screen, nor even witnessed at a theatre. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was the first to bring controversy and terror to movie audiences with the shocking shower scene, but The Exorcist raised the bar far higher than anyone could ever imagine and audiences were absolutely stunned. It went as far as people fainting in the theaters, vomiting, some bolting out the door like a bat out of hell never looking back!
Of course, by today’s standards the movie seems pretty tame in regards to shock value. However, the psychological factor runs strong with this film. For someone going into this movie, whom may have never seen it- (what the fuck is wrong with you I may ask) one can have a slight build of anxiety or high expectations of something that many hold as the scariest horror film of all time. The movie really isn’t a wall to wall film of scary imagery, much like you would see today with jump scares. The plot, the score and the slow build up are quite unsettling on it’s own without any fancy bloodwork to lure you in. This isn’t a haunted house movie or like any possession film you’ve seen. It is simply a young girl, for no reason whatsoever, gets her soul taken over by a powerful beyond the world demon. While there is no explanation as to why or how this could’ve transpired; The characters in the film don’t even entertain that possibility until much later. When Chris finally approaches Father Karras (A priest who himself is questioning his own faith) after exhausting all other possibilities, and asks “How does one go about getting an exorcism?” To Karras, I always giggle with his sense of what the fuck is wrong with you lady? demeanor.
The fact that The Exorcist resists the temptation of jumping right into the acknowledgment that Regan is possessed continues to build up that Good VS Evil feel. Instead, the movie finally surrenders to the fact towards the end, with the BEAUTIFULLY shot scene when Lancaster Merrin pulls up to the front of the home and fulfills his destiny that has been taunting him for years. The final battle between good and evil, as the film states, he has done battle with this demon before and basically now, what needs to be done, must be done. The final battle scenes are visually brilliant and scary as hell. Back in 1973, if you went to the theater and made it THAT far, you were considered either a brave soul or one twisted fuck. I would take either as a compliment. In any regard, check out the video below as to what audiences experienced seeing the film for the first time. I could only wish for those kinds of reactions when I personally went to the theater myself when it was re- released with the deleted scenes. Instead I got a bunch of annoying pint-sized punks screaming their heads off just to be an annoyance to those around them. How the times of changed.
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