Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Horror Movies: The Exorcist (1973)

I've been told that The Exorcist isn't as scary if you're an atheist, but I don't believe it. When it came out, The Exorcist was considered the scariest movie ever made and preachers warned that the film itself contained evil. Based on the account of a supposed exorcism in modern America, the Exorcist manages to comment on the breakdown of the family in the mid 70s, play off of Babylonian mythos, and still be scary as hell. Try watching this movie alone at three in the morning. Yow!

They released a longer version in recent years with a few scary scenes put back in and the original ending, which was lousy in the first place. The "spider-walk scene" that I'd been hearing of for years was definitely good. Sadly, they've never found the original footage of an early scene shot at Arlington National Cemetery, which made the social subtext about the culture clash a bit more evident.

As one might suspect, given the 70s release, there was indeed a disco version of the theme song released, and a blaxsploitation remake; sadly, it was not entitled "The Blaxorcist". It was called Abby and the studio sued to get it taken out of general release. Here's a scene set in a nightclub.

If I ever own a cell phone, I think "Hellllloooooo Motherfuuuckerrrr!" will be my ringtone.


The Pagan Temple said...

Never mind watching it alone at 3 am, I was afraid to go to sleep at night alone after I saw it the first time. Yikes. Did you get what the whole head turning all the way around was all about? It was her or "it's" way of saying, "yeah this is what I did to that creep Burke". The spider-walk scene still gives me chills. The preachers talking about evil were probably referring mainly to the crucifix scene.

There never would have been a Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers without the Exorcist, but after that they were inevitable. I think the reasoning was, what can possibly top that?

Rufus said...

I think it's scary, at least to me, because they really aren't holding any punches in The Exorcist. Also, it's shot in this weird documentary style- everybody acts very naturally in the movie until the little girl is not acting naturally. Also, the stuff with Damien's mother still gives me the willies.

The Pagan Temple said...

Oh shit yeah, I forgot about that, and you just had to remind me. Are you talking about the dreams, or where her voice was speaking through the possessed girl? Well, both are creepy enough.

Have you ever read the book? If not, I recommend it highly, as it's one of the best books ever written. Unlike the movie, it reads very much like a psychological suspense/horror detective story. Without all the subsequent hype, just reading the book you wouldn't be sure how the mystery would be resolved, whether she would turn out to be possessed or if maybe there would be a more mundane explanation of a psychiatric nature. It's really intense and draws you right in.

There are all kinds of layers that are never resolved. What was in the girl's psyche that made her such a convenient target of the demon? Was she an abuse victim of some kind? What was the role of the mysterious missing father in all this?

Damn, now I'm wanting to read the book again.

Rufus said...

I should get around to reading that. The scenes I'm thinking of are a dream in which his mother desends into the subway as he's screaming for her and a hallucination in which she's sitting on the little girl's bed. They're just terrifying.

Also, I'll look on youtube because there's an old trailer for The Exorcist that got pulled from theatres in the 70s, which Claire and I saw in a theatre at a horror movie show a few years ago, and man if that isn't the scariest trailer I've ever seen!

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