The Exorcist is one of the best movies to come out of the 70’s and deserves better than slowly descending down the top 250. It’s one of those essential films you have to see in order to understand what a movie truly is and this is more than a horror film. Unfortunately there are so many people who are saying they got bored, I think because they expected a terrifying movie, people! This isn’t a slasher movie, this isn’t some scary Michael Myers that you can shoot, this is a story about normal people in a normal house and upstairs there is a little girl who happens to be possessed by “The devil himself”. Faith is so strong and when it’s shaken, anything in your imagination can run wild.
First off the actors: Ellen Burstyn plays Chris McNeil, an actress working in Washington, D.C. on a film. She is the mother of Regan, the little girl who is possessed. I felt such sorrow for Chris, when she begs Father Karras to help her with Regan, I almost cried for her. Her daughter is not sick, this is nothing she can give Regan a pill and she’ll be better. Her speech to Father Karras later on in the film: “You show me Regan’s double, same face, same voice, everything. And I’d know it wasn’t Regan. I’d know in my gut. Now, I want you to tell me that you know for a fact that there’s nothing wrong with my daughter, except in her mind. You tell me for a fact that an exorcism wouldn’t do any good! You tell me that!” sent shivers down my spine, this woman knows what Regan needs and will do whatever she can.
We have Linda Blair who plays Regan and she was so great for a 12 year old actress. This little apple faced girl became one of the most frightening images of the 70’s and still to this day. She’s not scary because she’s swearing, this little innocent girl has been taken over by forces that she shouldn’t even know about. Jason Miller as Father Karras, for a man who had never acted professionally before, he was quite amazing as a priest who just lost his mother and his faith has been shaken up. Max Von Sydow as Father Merrin was so strong and he was like in his 20’s playing a man in his 90’s. He was robbed of an Oscar, he was so believable and just amazing during the exorcism scene.
The effects? People! This was the 70’s and they made a bed float! They turned this little angel’s face into a hideous creature! If you watch the documentary “Fear of God: The Making of the Exorcist”, Ellen Burstyn gets slapped by Regan in the film and she had kind of a rope tied around her waist. When the stunt man pulled her back, Billy the director told the guy to let her have it and he YANKED her back hard causing real pain in Ellen’s back and that was an actual scream in the movie. They froze the room to the point as were moisture got into the set and there was a layer of snow in the morning they were shooting. There was no CGI, this was the real deal and I believe could truly help the actors. Linda Blair was being thrashed up and down during one of the possessed scenes where the bracing came loose and caused slamming of metal to her back repeatedly and her screams were also very real and bone chilling.
William Freidkin is the director of The Exorcist, and there was no better choice. This guy took this picture seriously, so far as to shoot a gun offstage or scream obscenities to get an actor’s shocked reaction on film. He slapped almost punched Reverend William O’Malley who played Father Dyer to get him to shake during his reciting the Last Rites to Father Karras. He almost would have killed to make this picture and anyone doing it.
Weither or not the set of The Exorcist was truly cursed with a total of 9 deaths linked to the film, a fire on the set with no apparent reason, and the total feeling of evil around the room, we’ll never know. But The Exorcist is a true motion picture never to missed or deserve no more than the true compliments it should get! This is the film that should be shown to any aspiring film makers. It’s a masterpiece of a film that’s more than a mere horror flick.