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Old 10-30-2019, 01:05 PM
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Let's talk about The Exorcist (spoilers)


Anyone can and does weigh in on The Godfather at the drop of an orange, but I never see any posts on The Exorcist.

I saw it for the first time in its entirety last night at the Harkins theater Tuesday Night Classic. This was the 2000 Director's Cut. Since it isn't just any horror movie, but the horrror movie, I wonder what people think. In general, I liked it, but....

My first impression: man that was a slow film! Not just because pacing is so much quicker now - I think it would have been considered slow in 1973. It starts out with -what? -twenty minutes of Fr. Merrin in Iraq that as far as I could tell added nothing to the movie. Yes, he found the tiny demon head. So? There's a ton of foreshadowing in this film that never has a payoff. Was there payoff in the book?

Then we have ten minutes of Chris filming a scene from her movie. What did that add? I don't know!

Lots of shots of Fr, Karras walking. More walking. Chris walking. Doesn't anyone in Georgetown drive? yes, we get it! It's moody! (The scenes with Karras's mother are fine. That's setting the stage. I have no issue there.)

But contrasting with the slowness of the pacing, the editing is cut like some action movie on speed. We have a scene where Fr. Karras is with his mother in the hospital, and then in the very next scene she has been found dead in her apartment, dead two days. Come on! How'd she get out of the hospital?

We have a defilement of the Virgin Mary statue, symbolic of a Black Mass. But there was no Black Mass. There were no coven of Satanists trying to summon a demon, He just showed up. So why do the statue? In THAT church? Who knows!

Then when the going starts getting good, Burke Dennings gets thrown out Regan's window by the devil. Or does he? We never even saw him in the house, never saw him baby sitting, never saw him portentously enter her room, never even saw his body. The first killing by the Regan-demon and it's off camera! WTF?

Lt Columbo, I mean, Kinderman is on the case. He "invites" Karras to advise on the investigation, but you KNOW he thinks Karras threw the guy out the window. But why? He has no connection to the family. All he did was look like a boxer and write a paper on witchcraft. And...?

Kinderman finds a statue head of a demon at the base of the Exorcist Stairs. But nothing comes of it. No one sees it, Merrin never makes a connection. So why have the head in the movie?

Now we get to the good stuff, and yes it is still good! Spider walking, levitating, head spinning, pea soup projectile vomiting, crucifix insertion, demon language, backwards masking, Regan's demon makeup, psychological manipulation of Karras, freezing bedroom fog breath THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!. Sorry, got carried away there. This is the meat of the film, and it holds up well.

And in the denouement, we get some odd scene of Lt Kinderman asking Fr. Dyer if he wants to see a movie, like he did Karras earlier. Is there supposed to be some subtext there?
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Old 10-30-2019, 01:18 PM
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In the book the actual exorcism takes up maybe 10% of the whole. The Exorcist is really about how Regans possession forces the books protagonists to question the direction and beliefs in their lives to save the life of a little girl. Merrin had battled the demon before and the statue he found in Nineveh was a representation of it. Even though he had serious heart disease, he knew he had to confront it again. No matter the cost.

Karris was a psychiatrist in deep doubt about his faith. The death of his mother was a reminder that God wasnt the benevolent father he had imagined and that the worlds of science and religion didnt intersect.

Chris was an atheist who deeply loved her daughter and would do anything to save her. When medecine couldnt help her...

Kindermann was trying to solve a brutal murder that couldnt possibly be carried out by a little girl.

IMO, the Exorcist is more about character study than horror. Its just the horror was so shocking.
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Old 10-30-2019, 08:25 PM
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I think one surprising thing is how profane the movie is. 40 years of horror films have left me a bit jaded, but the langauge the Regan uses to harangue the priests is still shocking - especially coming out of the mouth of a young girl.
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Old 10-31-2019, 12:51 AM
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I agree with Madsircool's observations. I read the book before I saw the movie, and IMO it's a great film but the book was even better.
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Old 10-31-2019, 09:18 AM
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I haven't seen the film in about 15 years, but I'm coincidentally re-reading the book right now. As a result, my memories of the latter are much fresher.

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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
... My first impression: man that was a slow film! Not just because pacing is so much quicker now - I think it would have been considered slow in 1973. It starts out with -what? -twenty minutes of Fr. Merrin in Iraq that as far as I could tell added nothing to the movie. Yes, he found the tiny demon head. So? There's a ton of foreshadowing in this film that never has a payoff. Was there payoff in the book?
I really don't remember the film as being slow and the introduction you describe neatly ties in with the main story, so that's fine with me. Plus it sets the mood of coming dread quite effectively.

You say that it was 20 minutes-long and I'll take your word for it, but I would have said it was half that. Again, you're probably right, but it shows that the length of that sequence never bothered me.


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Lots of shots of Fr, Karras walking. More walking. Chris walking. Doesn't anyone in Georgetown drive? yes, we get it! It's moody!
I don't remember that many "walking scenes" but again : moody 70s setting, I'm fine with that.

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We have a defilement of the Virgin Mary statue, symbolic of a Black Mass. But there was no Black Mass. There were no coven of Satanists trying to summon a demon, He just showed up. So why do the statue? In THAT church? Who knows!, I'm fine with that.
I may be wrong but I always assumed that the demon itself was reponsible for the defilement. It would certainly be creepier than having an unnecessary bunch of weirdos in black robes do it.

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Then when the going starts getting good, Burke Dennings gets thrown out Regan's window by the devil. Or does he? We never even saw him in the house, never saw him baby sitting, never saw him portentously enter her room, never even saw his body. The first killing by the Regan-demon and it's off camera! WTF?
That may be a problem with the editing of the film, because the book is much more explicit about what happened and the whole thing makes sense. Dennings drops by at a time when only the baby-sitter is home and she has to go out for some errands. Actually, this isn't described "in real-time", we only learn it after his death. Again, that's quite clever.

HOWEVER, the book doesn't describe the killing at all either, which is a stroke of genius and it's fortunate that the film kept it. We first learn that Denning has died "falling down the stairs", then the inspector goes to the morgue to discuss the case again with the coroner and take another look at the corpse. That chapter ends on the revelation that Dennings' head is twisted at 180°. Chilling. Showing the murder would be a let-down, better keep it for your imagination.

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Lt Columbo, I mean, Kinderman is on the case. He "invites" Karras to advise on the investigation, but you KNOW he thinks Karras threw the guy out the window. But why? He has no connection to the family. All he did was look like a boxer and write a paper on witchcraft. And...?
There are a few important-ish characters from the book that were left out of the movie, notably two servants. One of them ends up being suspected of the murder, which makes perfect sense in the book (tense relationship with Dennings and an alibi that turns out to be a lie).

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Kinderman finds a statue head of a demon at the base of the Exorcist Stairs. But nothing comes of it. No one sees it, Merrin never makes a connection. So why have the head in the movie?
More mood-setting ?

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Now we get to the good stuff, and yes it is still good! Spider walking, levitating, head spinning, pea soup projectile vomiting, crucifix insertion, demon language, backwards masking, Regan's demon makeup, psychological manipulation of Karras, freezing bedroom fog breath THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!. Sorry, got carried away there. This is the meat of the film, and it holds up well.
Yeah, all of this is great and has held up remarkably well. Again, pacing is one of the strengths of the movie and the gradual mounting of terror is very effectively done. I must note however that the spider-walking scene is even more terrifying in the book : Chris and the baby-sitter have spent the whole night talking. In the early morning, the latter goes out of the room to get something and when she comes back, she notices the horrified look and Chris' face. She turns around, sees nothing, then looks down and sees Spider-Regan hiss and lick her ankle.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:48 AM
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I saw the movie when it was new in 1973. Given the generally poor quality of horror films at the time, it was riveting. I can't recall another demon possession film prior to that one, though I'm sure someone can point one out. I can also see why it would be a bit of a yawner now, however.
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Old 10-31-2019, 10:52 AM
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I saw the movie when it was new in 1973. Given the generally poor quality of horror films at the time, it was riveting. I can't recall another demon possession film prior to that one, though I'm sure someone can point one out. I can also see why it would be a bit of a yawner now, however.
Same here. Not as subtle as something like Rosemary's Baby. Splatter horror had been around for a while, but that was just blood and gore. Linda Blair's performance was something utterly new, but it's been done to death just in the parodies.

Paper Moon featured another foul mouthed girl the same year, but that was done for comedy.

Last edited by TriPolar; 10-31-2019 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 10-31-2019, 11:13 AM
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...I can't recall another demon possession film prior to that one, though I'm sure someone can point one out....

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167886/?ref_=tt_urv

I have not seen this, but the comment from user gkrejci ("The Inspiration for The Exorcist?") is very interesting.
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Old 10-31-2019, 12:36 PM
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...(snipped a bunch of good stuff)...
Thank you for the comparisons of the book! Very informative.

Maybe the Iraq scene didn't run 20 minutes, maybe it just seemed like that, but I'm still not sure what it added. There's all this stuff going on - people with guns, people watching him, people challenging him, the clock stopping - that all seem like it should mean something, but nothing comes from it. There's a line between subtle and missing, between understated and unstated, and IMO The film is on the wrong side of that line.

The vulgar language used is quite atypical for the early 70s. Considering the most anyone used in a mainstream film was like ONE swear word at the time, Regan-demon's tirade is quite shocking. I wonder if it would be too much for the delicate sensibilities of 2019.
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Old 10-31-2019, 01:19 PM
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... Maybe the Iraq scene didn't run 20 minutes, maybe it just seemed like that, but I'm still not sure what it added. There's all this stuff going on - people with guns, people watching him, people challenging him, the clock stopping - that all seem like it should mean something, but nothing comes from it. There's a line between subtle and missing, between understated and unstated, and IMO The film is on the wrong side of that line...
I really should watch the movie again but my 2 cents is that this introduction adds depth to the phenomenon without telling you too much about it. You know that you're dealing with an evil entity that is incredibly ancient, that it brings chaos, that it can act on the physical world and that Merrin already has experience with it. Plus the Middle-Eastern location is a bit unsettling in itself for us Westerners, so that you find yourself slightly off-balance right from the start.

All in all : foreshadowing. Something wicked this way comes...
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Old 10-31-2019, 02:34 PM
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I really should watch the movie again but my 2 cents is that this introduction adds depth to the phenomenon without telling you too much about it. You know that you're dealing with an evil entity that is incredibly ancient, that it brings chaos, that it can act on the physical world and that Merrin already has experience with it. Plus the Middle-Eastern location is a bit unsettling in itself for us Westerners, so that you find yourself slightly off-balance right from the start.

All in all : foreshadowing. Something wicked this way comes...
And not just incredibly ancient, but world-spanning. The story is then localized in mundane real-life modern Georgetown, and that is what makes it all the more menacing.
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Old 10-31-2019, 04:33 PM
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And not just incredibly ancient, but world-spanning. The story is then localized in mundane real-life modern Georgetown, and that is what makes it all the more menacing.
That part I did like.
"Why her? Why this girl?"
"I think the point is to make us despair; to see ourselves as...animal and ugly. To make us reject the possibility that God could love us."

But the devil has such mundane plans. What did his adventure accomplish? Killed two priests, and one other person, but had no effect outside of their lives. Regan doesn't remember, and Chris will convince herself that nothing really happened. The only people that really know, and could despair, are dead.

I guess the devil has lots of time. He's playing the long game.
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Old 10-31-2019, 04:35 PM
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I wanted to make this a separate post:

In the world of the movie, Heaven, Hell, the devil and God are all real. So, what do you think happened to Merrin and Karras? Are they in Heaven?

Since Catholics don't think you have to wait for the Resurrection, they could be, even before the movie ended.

On the other hand, does Karras' suicide condemn him to the very Hell he was fighting against? I sure hope not.

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Old 10-31-2019, 05:24 PM
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I wanted to make this a separate post:

In the world of the movie, Heaven, Hell, the devil and God are all real. So, what do you think happened to Merrin and Karras? Are they in Heaven?

Since Catholics don't think you have to wait for the Resurrection, they could be, even before the movie ended.

On the other hand, does Karras' suicide condemn him to the very Hell he was fighting against? I sure hope not.
Im not sure that Karras' action was suicide. He sacrificed his own life so that a little girl can live a healthy normal life. It completed Karras character arc, he started as a man who was questioning his faith and usefulness. He stepped up to participate in an Exorcism despite these doubts and he performed magnificently. He didnt surrender his life, he sacrificed it so another can live.
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:30 PM
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Im not sure that Karras' action was suicide. He sacrificed his own life so that a little girl can live a healthy normal life. It completed Karras character arc, he started as a man who was questioning his faith and usefulness. He stepped up to participate in an Exorcism despite these doubts and he performed magnificently. He didnt surrender his life, he sacrificed it so another can live.
I agree, but how much of a rules stickler is the God of the movie?
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Old 10-31-2019, 06:49 PM
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Funny, I was thinking about this movie the other day. I had read the book and then saw the movie when it was first run, and haven't revisited the story since -- so we're talking 45+ years ago.

What I was thinking about was how I didn't find the movie all that scary. The studio hype was all about how frightening it was to the point of a pretty good gimmick -- larger theaters had a nurse in attendance to treat those viewers who got so scared they fainted.

I came to the conclusion then and still believe to be true that people who thought that being possessed by the devil was possible found the movie way scarier than those of us who didn't.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:24 PM
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I came to the conclusion then and still believe to be true that people who thought that being possessed by the devil was possible found the movie way scarier than those of us who didn't.
Slight nitpick: She was possessed by a demon, not the devil. This seems to be an almost universal human experience throughout history. Im not saying I believe in demons or possession, but I do believe there is still quite a bit out there that we cant explain nor understand.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:25 PM
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Really, the scariest thing about that movie is the male X-ray tech who prepares Regan for the brain scan. Paul Bateson was a real-life X-ray tech who had also done a bit of acting, and he was likely an active serial killer at the time. He was eventually convicted for a murder that happened a few years later, did about 25 years in prison, and is believed to have died in 2012.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bateson

He was openly gay at the time as well, which for the era was very unusual.

And guess where I learned about that? You guessed it - The Dope.
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Old 11-01-2019, 05:01 AM
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...
I came to the conclusion then and still believe to be true that people who thought that being possessed by the devil was possible found the movie way scarier than those of us who didn't.
I don't know about that. I've always found supernatural horror movies way scarier than slasher flicks, even though I don't believe in all of that stuff.

With serial killers... well, no matter how ruthless and clever, they're still human beings in the end and can be dealt with as such. Shot in the head, problem solved. That's why these films come up with all these false deaths, to the point where it becomes ludicrous, or up the gore in order to bring something new to the table. But that's mixing up being terrified with being grossed out.

In supernatural horror, what gets me is the feeling of being stuck in a nightmare, totally unable to understand what's going on, predict what will happen next and understand how to bring the ordeal to an end. The fact that it cannot happen in real life is irrelevant, it's the absolute helplessness and hopelessness that are distressing.

In that respect, i.e. building up an feeling of inescapable and unintelligible terror, The Exorcist did it better than 99% of all horror movies
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Old 11-01-2019, 05:20 AM
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I agree with Madsircool's observations. I read the book before I saw the movie, and IMO it's a great film but the book was even better.
Did you see the two season TV series Fox had a few years ago? It was truly excellent. And creepy.
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Old 11-01-2019, 11:37 AM
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Funny, I was thinking about this movie the other day. I had read the book and then saw the movie when it was first run, and haven't revisited the story since -- so we're talking 45+ years ago.

What I was thinking about was how I didn't find the movie all that scary. The studio hype was all about how frightening it was to the point of a pretty good gimmick -- larger theaters had a nurse in attendance to treat those viewers who got so scared they fainted.

I came to the conclusion then and still believe to be true that people who thought that being possessed by the devil was possible found the movie way scarier than those of us who didn't.
This kind of aligns with my thoughts. I read the book when I was quite young and I don't remember it making that much of an impression on me (though it was a long time ago so I may not remember accurately). There was no way to get in to see the movie when it was in the theater and consequently, by the time I was old enough it wasn't really on my radar anymore. I saw it for the first time maybe 20 years ago and, partly because I watch A LOT of horror but mostly because demon possession is one of my least favorite subgenres it just wasn't that scary. For the same reason zombies aren't; they're just utterly implausible to me. Witchcraft, I can sort of buy, ghosts - definitely, but demons, not so much.

I must admit that this thread is kind of making me want to revisit it again. Even if I don't find it overly frightening I do remember creepy atmosphere and some other interesting aspects.
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Old 11-01-2019, 01:36 PM
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I happened to be on a business trip when the film was released. I remember walking by a theater in Times Square and saying, "FOUR DOLLARS???, who the *&^%$ pays four dollar to see a movie." But I digress.

After I returned home to the boondocks, I went with a friend who was a very religious Catholic. I jumped at a few scenes, but my friend was shaking in his boots for about a week.
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Old 11-01-2019, 01:47 PM
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I have to chime in (heh) and say that the use of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells as the theme was absolutely superb.
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Old 11-01-2019, 02:07 PM
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This was a fantastic movie, and the first scenes in the Iraqi dig were instrumental to the story... but, yes, it did help to read the book.

Merrin had fought Pazuzu (the demon) before, and recognized his re-ascension when he started finding the statuettes in Iraq. It's not mentioned, but heavily implied, that Merrin quit the dig because of this revelation and went to a quiet NY seminary where he awaited being called again.

I love this sequence almost as much as I love the Dawn of Man sequence in 2001.

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We have a defilement of the Virgin Mary statue, symbolic of a Black Mass. But there was no Black Mass. There were no coven of Satanists trying to summon a demon, He just showed up. So why do the statue? In THAT church? Who knows!
My theory is that the defilement was done by Regan in an early manifestation of the possession. Note that the church is in the path of Regan's home and her mom's workplace. This wasn't really clear in the novel, to my recall, and this is what made the most sense.

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Lt Columbo, I mean, Kinderman is on the case. He "invites" Karras to advise on the investigation, but you KNOW he thinks Karras threw the guy out the window. But why? He has no connection to the family. All he did was look like a boxer and write a paper on witchcraft. And...?

Kinderman finds a statue head of a demon at the base of the Exorcist Stairs. But nothing comes of it. No one sees it, Merrin never makes a connection. So why have the head in the movie?
The head is in the movie to remind you of the demon in the Iraqi sequence, to tie the two locales together in the same story.

Kinderman doesn't think Karras killed the director, that's silly. He thinks Karras knows who killed the director because of a possible confession made to Karras, and because Kinderman is also aware of weird things going on at that church. But at no point is Karras under suspicion, which I think is cleared up rather early in their relationship.
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Old 11-01-2019, 04:55 PM
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AI saw it for the first time in its entirety last night at the Harkins theater Tuesday Night Classic. This was the 2000 Director's Cut. [...]

My first impression: man that was a slow film! Not just because pacing is so much quicker now - I think it would have been considered slow in 1973. It starts out with -what? -twenty minutes of Fr. Merrin in Iraq that as far as I could tell added nothing to the movie. Yes, he found the tiny demon head. So? There's a ton of foreshadowing in this film that never has a payoff. Was there payoff in the book?

Then we have ten minutes of Chris filming a scene from her movie. What did that add? I don't know!

Lots of shots of Fr, Karras walking. More walking. Chris walking. Doesn't anyone in Georgetown drive? yes, we get it! It's moody! (The scenes with Karras's mother are fine. That's setting the stage. I have no issue there.)
I find director's cuts to be hit or miss. Some are great; they just add in what the MPAA made them cut to qualify for an R instead of NC-17 or X. Others are self-indulgent garbage.

The Exorcist director's cut appears to have added 13 minutes. This may have contributed to the pacing issues, and if so, it would explain why the theatrical release version was what it was.

I have no idea either way, having never seen the director's cut. Just a thought.
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Old 11-01-2019, 06:07 PM
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My first impression: man that was a slow film!
Some great films seem slow on first viewing. I had that impression for the first 20 minutes of Unforgiven.

I thought the editing of the dream sequence was pretty good

That we can't hear the barking dog or the city traffic and just the scary strings and the sound of his fitful sleep make it all the more dreamlike.

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Anyone can and does weigh in on The Godfather at the drop of an orange, but I never see any posts on The Exorcist.
Well, it's pretty disturbing, isn't it? Not exactly a source of fond memories. Ebert has this to say in 1973:

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I am not sure exactly what reasons people will have for seeing this movie; surely enjoyment won’t be one...
He gives it high praise and seemingly a wide berth.

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Old 11-01-2019, 06:27 PM
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My theory is that the defilement was done by Regan in an early manifestation of the possession. Note that the church is in the path of Regan's home and her mom's workplace. This wasn't really clear in the novel, to my recall, and this is what made the most sense.


That only makes the most sense if you are an atheist. To accept the book's/movie's mindset that supernatural creatures like demons are real, of course Pazuzu did it, and without any help from Regan. The statue just sprouted a penis at Pazuzu's will and slathered itself in blood. Why? Because that's what demons do.
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Old 11-01-2019, 08:18 PM
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Some movies last and some don't. I did not see The Exorcist until a year ago, having somehow avoided or missed it my entire life.

I would put The Exorcist in the category of "did not last" in terms of its effect or impact. I've seen The Godfather from only a year earlier and Godfather is still an amazing movie where every part of it works and remains very gripping. I found The Exorcist to be mainly dull and honestly, just kind of not scary or intense at all.

There were a few neat moments, but nothing too impactful to me. I was hoping for better.
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Old 11-01-2019, 10:16 PM
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I saw The Exorcist upon release. I was in high school at the time.

Then I got to college, and this guy was my Greek professor.

Slightly weird.
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Old 11-02-2019, 10:42 AM
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This was a fantastic movie, and the first scenes in the Iraqi dig were instrumental to the story... but, yes, it did help to read the book.
.....

I love this sequence almost as much as I love the Dawn of Man sequence in 2001.
Interesting you reference 2001, because for me, the dawn of man sequence in inscrutable without first having read the book.

For me, in the movie it isn't clear the ancient(?) find of the head in Iraq is evidence that it is the same demon that Merrin fought, and the same demon possessing Regan.

The movie tells, but not shows, Burke's death, but then shows, but doesn't tell, that it is the same demon. We can assume, but sometimes I think a movie owes the audience a bit of clarity. (look how many people think the Star Child blew up the Earth at the end of 2001.)

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 11-02-2019 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 11-02-2019, 10:55 AM
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Funny, I was thinking about this movie the other day. I had read the book and then saw the movie when it was first run, and haven't revisited the story since -- so we're talking 45+ years ago.

What I was thinking about was how I didn't find the movie all that scary. The studio hype was all about how frightening it was to the point of a pretty good gimmick -- larger theaters had a nurse in attendance to treat those viewers who got so scared they fainted.

I came to the conclusion then and still believe to be true that people who thought that being possessed by the devil was possible found the movie way scarier than those of us who didn't.
The reason I was not shocked by the movie is that it was discussed in great detail by everyone who did see it. When I finally caught a showing, I knew what was coming.

Of course, being at a Jesuit HS at the time ment there was more talk than normal regarding the movie.
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Old 11-02-2019, 11:14 AM
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Interesting you reference 2001, because for me, the dawn of man sequence in inscrutable without first having read the book.

For me, in the movie it isn't clear the ancient(?) find of the head in Iraq is evidence that it is the same demon that Merrin fought, and the same demon possessing Regan.

The movie tells, but not shows, Burke's death, but then shows, but doesn't tell, that it is the same demon. We can assume, but sometimes I think a movie owes the audience a bit of clarity. (look how many people think the Star Child blew up the Earth at the end of 2001.)
That's a fair criticism, though at the time it was an adaptation to a very famous novel, so Friedkin may have thought it OK to use these shortcuts.

As for 2001, I'm pretty sure I saw the movie first (it was a big FIRST TIME ON BROADCAST TELEVISION-type event back in the 1970s), and even at that age I glommed onto what was happening, though I thought the monolith was making the apes smarter by singing to them.

Regardless, I love those rare movie introductions where the opening scene has NOTHING to do with the rest of the movie, but EVERYTHING to do with the story and its background.

Last edited by JohnT; 11-02-2019 at 11:16 AM.
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Old 11-02-2019, 11:16 AM
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Interesting you reference 2001, because for me, the dawn of man sequence in inscrutable without first having read the book.

For me, in the movie it isn't clear the ancient(?) find of the head in Iraq is evidence that it is the same demon that Merrin fought, and the same demon possessing Regan.

The movie tells, but not shows, Burke's death, but then shows, but doesn't tell, that it is the same demon. We can assume, but sometimes I think a movie owes the audience a bit of clarity. (look how many people think the Star Child blew up the Earth at the end of 2001.)
Really ? What would be the point of that sequence otherwise ? It really seems crystal clear to me.

Do you think that Merrin should said something along the lines of : "I declare that the demon possessing Regan is the same one I fought in Iraq" ? That would have been completely silly, wouldn't it ?

I don't want to sound flippant, and I know that some plots can get unnecessarily convoluted, but should we have every single connection explicitly spelled out for us ? Of course not, especially when the clues are right there before our eyes.
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Old 11-02-2019, 11:23 AM
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That only makes the most sense if you are an atheist. To accept the book's/movie's mindset that supernatural creatures like demons are real, of course Pazuzu did it, and without any help from Regan. The statue just sprouted a penis at Pazuzu's will and slathered itself in blood. Why? Because that's what demons do.
Thought about this for a while and I'm not sure I agree with your interpretation. The movie and book were about possession* and it doesn't require an atheists faith to conclude that the attic noises, the Ouija Board, and the church desecration were all done by a Regan in an earlier, less "intrusive" phase of possession.

It is open to interpretation to both sides, however, as the desecrations are never resolved in either medium.

"No rats!"

*Actually, as Stephen King (or Harlan Ellison) once noted (but I think it was SK), The Exorcist isn't about demonic possession, but about parents asking "what the fuck is wrong with kids these days?!?", a theme people lived in their daily lives in this period.
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Old 11-02-2019, 12:09 PM
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Of course, being at a Jesuit HS at the time ment there was more talk than normal regarding the movie.
Yes, exactly the same for me. And then I went to a Jesuit college and (see my post above) encountered a Jesuit who had a small (speaking, but small) part in the movie, teaching Greek.

Which is exactly where you'd expect to find a Jesuit exorcist, of course.
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Old 11-02-2019, 12:20 PM
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I came to the conclusion then and still believe to be true that people who thought that being possessed by the devil was possible found the movie way scarier than those of us who didn't.
This.

I saw it years after it came out, but long before the veracity of the story had been impartially investigated and aired.

I agree that it's a well-constructed movie (directing, acting, special effects, etc.) But I never could understand friends who were so scared by it, who invariably believed that demonic possession was real.

I found "The Silence of the Lambs" and "Se7en" scarier. Those kinds of monsters are real.
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Old 11-02-2019, 03:00 PM
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Mark Kermode is a popular film critic in the UK and says this is the best film ever made. Not best horror film - he is a true believer. He wrote a book about it.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/179782.The_Exorcist

I think it doesn't stand up to today's scary movies, but still has its moments of chill. I think it was trying for more than that though, and at the time succeeded.
Taesahnim talked about the Tubular Bells theme, but what always sticks with me is the sound production. The sub sonic frequency hits as the priests walk up the stairs causing your diaphragm to vibrate as you sat in the cinema. The child crying in the background of straight scenes almost too quiet to be heard. etc etc. Fantastic stuff.

I heard Dave Trott the advertising guru's story relating to the book. He was at an advertising agency in the early 70's and a guy in the office was reading the book each lunchtime. When Dave saw him reading a different book he asked what he thought of it - guy says - 'I couldn't read it anymore, it scared the shit out of me so badly I didn't even want it in the house, so yesterday I threw it in the Thames.' Wow says Dave. He then walked around the corner to a bookstore, bought the Exorcist, went back to the office and soaked the book in a sink full of water and placed it in the guys desk drawer.

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Old 11-02-2019, 04:10 PM
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Dave Trott was evil...and hilarious.
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Old 11-02-2019, 04:37 PM
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I don't know if I could call it the best film ever made, but I can see that argument being made about the movie - it is a far more meticulous and nuanced in production and story than many here are giving it credit for.

I also wonder if this is a difficult movie for modern audiences who have children who are either ill or alienated. Since the perspective of the main story is shown from Chris's pov, much of the horror was that of a mother losing her child to unknowable means, which again is a theme which resonates at all times and especially in 1973.

Last edited by JohnT; 11-02-2019 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 11-02-2019, 05:08 PM
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I think one surprising thing is how profane the movie is. 40 years of horror films have left me a bit jaded, but the langauge the Regan uses to harangue the priests is still shocking - especially coming out of the mouth of a young girl.
I'll never forget Mad Magazine's take on it.

"Your Mother sews socks that SMELL!"
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Old 11-02-2019, 05:54 PM
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I'll never forget Mad Magazine's take on it.

"Your Mother sews socks that SMELL!"
Not Mad. SNL with Richard Pryor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8dKnFU5LUE
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Old 11-02-2019, 06:23 PM
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Mad Magazine definitely went along with the "these kids today" angle. More than one joke was based on how normal Regan appeared to various therapists.

Regan spits in a doctor's face and screams profanity (#%@#) into his stethoscope.

Doctor: So ma'am, why do you think there's something wrong with your daughter?




Regan snarls as her head twists around 360 degrees multiple times.

Father Karras: That's how the girls reacted when I accidentally walked into their sorority house.


In the end, the Devil just wants a movie franchise. Predictable ending really.
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Old 11-02-2019, 06:31 PM
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I'll never forget Mad Magazine's take on it.

"Your Mother sews socks that SMELL!"
"Get lost crud! Your church stinks! Your bishops take payola! And the pope reads Playboy!"
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