Today we have William Friedkin’s 1973 film, The Exorcist, one of the most famous and well regarded horror films in history, but I have to admit, I’m not a lover of it. I appreciate it as a (mostly) well made piece of horror cinema but that’s all really.
Now I know that a lot of you reading this now regard me as satan himself. But let me explain. The Exorcist is a good film. It has great performances, an excellent atmosphere and a strong religious aspect…You know how important religion in horror films is. But personally, I find it rather dull. I’m not sure exactly what it is about it because it’s true that it does have some of the most startling scenes in horror history, one bloody crucifix comes to mind. But other than these stand out scenes, of course the final few scenes being in there as well, I can’t seem to really get into the film. Maybe it was the fact that I went into it expecting the best thing ever due to all its praise but sadly, it left me slightly disappointed.
Also, I’m a lover of practical effects in horror. I think that they are so much better than CGI…just wait till we get into such films as Dawn of the Dead and The Evil Dead and you’ll see my love of practical effects come out. The effects in this however, for the most part, don’t appeal to me. The makeup administered to Regan’s face (the cover image) is great…I’ll admit that. But things like the head spinning and the vomit I just find terribly out of place in such a serious film. Films like Evil Dead, where it’s purposely a fun B-movie horror are ones where the slightly low budget effects don’t bother you and they make you enjoy the film all the more. Honestly though, I think the practical effects in that are better than some in this. Night of the Living Dead was made 5 years before this and for an incredibly low budget…its effects were also better. That’s just my opinion of course.
I’m sure many of you aren’t used to hearing about The Exorcist in this way.
Those two aspects I will say are the only two that I was disappointed about when I first watched this film. The performances, as I’ve said, are great. Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil is terrific and gives a performance full of fright, worry, vulnerability and devastation. Linda Blair as Regan is also very good…and I do find her performance rather creepy up to the point where she starts the ridiculous head spinning but she turns it on again in the exorcism scenes. The legendary actor, Max Von Sydow is also very good as Father Merrin. The main priest that Burstyn’s Chris goes to for assistance after the medical professionals cannot help her daughter. And of course, the big hero, Jason Miller as Father Karras. The man who ultimately stops the devil’s time on earth…Miller also gives a good performance.
As I’ve also said, the atmosphere of the film is excellent…perfectly captured in the great and famous poster. The coldness of Regan’s bedroom chills you to the bone and the terror that surrounds the idea of a satanic possession is also built up to intense moments.
As far as I’m concerned, The Exorcist is by no means the greatest horror film ever made and is very far from being near my favourites. If you want really top notch satanic, religious, atmospheric horror films, go for Rosemary’s Baby or The Omen (coming up in a few days). Those two, in my opinion are so, so, so much better than the overly-hyped, The Exorcist. I have come across others that feel the same way about this film as I do so I know I’m not totally alone here and trust me, I really wanted to love it like the majority but I’m afraid, saying I really like it would be lying.
It was a must to include it on this journey purely because of the importance of it in the genre but if this was only a list of my top horror films, it wouldn’t be on here.
Next up we have, in my opinion, a far better religion-based horror film, from the same year. A British film starring the master Christopher Lee, it spawned a disastrous 2006 remake that is still hailed as one of the worst horror remakes, and you know how many there’s been there. It also involves paganism and a very large fire. I’m sure you can hazard a guess now!
The Journey Continues