The Exorcist

Year: 1973 Director: William Friedkin

The Exorcist DVD cover - ok whose hid the crucifix.

The basic plot (supposedly based on a true story) surrounds Regan (played by Linda Blair) a 12 year old girl who is subjected to a demonic possession, whilst her anxious mother (Ellen Burstyn) is frantically trying to find some way (first medical then spiritual) to "cure" her daughter. A timely intervention of an old priest seems the only possible cure, and the old priest prepares himself to fight the old enemy for the last time.

The Exorcist was in every way groundbreaking. Leading up to the early 1970's the recent tradition of horror movies had often involved low budgets and even lower production values. When Warner Bros got this project off the ground it was clear this film would be a clean break from that tradition. With superb special effects, mesmerising cinematography, an solid but well put together cast and a truly un-nerving soundtrack (guaranteed to put your teeth on edge) all the ingredients were there for a truly special film. Allied to this an excellent script and some genuinely commanding performances it was little wonder that it proved to be a classic (even receiving nominations across the board at the Oscars). That it was so well received by both the critics and the public alike is perhaps a little surprising as the action is pretty uncomfortable and intense (and in places seemed to push the boundaries of what would be deemed allowable by the censor). The film itself had somewhat of a checkered history even leading to claims the film itself was cursed. It is also interesting to think how different the film might have been if the studio had got the cast and crew it originally wanted. Stanley Kubrick was initially going to direct the film and he would have done so had he not asked to produce it as well (the studio having to reluctantly decline due to fears that Kubricks production values would mean that the film would likely run way over budget). The studio also wanted Audrey Hepburn to play the part of the mother. Hepburn was keen to play the part but only on condition it could be filmed in Italy where she was living at the time. The Exorcist is a truly remarkable and very scary movie. Now approaching its 35th birthday, a viewing of the film shows it has lost none of its power or intensity (or downright scariness).

The Exorcist reatures in our Interactive Haunted House of Horror guide to horror films and scary movies.

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