I wouldn’t dare try to put into words how passionate I am about The Exorcist. This entire website alone says how crazy I am about this film, no? I’ll continue to pack this particular page and (and of course the whole website) with Exorcist paraphernalia while writing commentaries about the film and including snippets as I go. I might even write a complete review one day…
I’d give anything to be able to see this film for the first time all over again. No film before or since has been able to catapult me to such heights of fear, doubt and terror. In one swift viewing, The Exorcist restored my faith and opened the door to a world of films that I didn’t yet know existed. I was 14 when I first saw it, and it is something that I will never forget. The film is such that everyone always remembers where they were and who they were with when they first saw it.
What started as a developing story in a newspaper about a possessed boy inspired William Peter Blatty to pen the novel. It became a best-seller and was quickly optioned by Warner Brothers to be developed into a motion picture. Blatty would go on to write the screenplay and William Friedkin, fresh from his film highly acclaimed and award winning film The French Connection, was brought on to direct. In 1972, production on The Exorcist would begin– and what a famous production it would become.
Millions of dollars over budget and tales of people dying on set, it is now common legend that The Exorcist production was cursed. Even the set burned down at one point. Director Friedkin was ruthless at milking performances from his actors and the studio watched the dailies in horror as a 12-year-old girl cursed obcenities beyond her years and masturbated with a crucifix.
There will never be another film like The Exorcist.
The film went on to be the highest grossing motion picture of all time (until ’77 when Star Wars would sweep the screens) and even today remains the highest grossing horror film ever produced (as listed in the Guinness Book of World Records).
The Academy awarded William Peter Blatty an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as Robert Knudson and Christopher Newman for their efforts in sound. Linda Blair’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress was surrounded by controversy when it was believed that her stunt double Eileen Dietz had performed most of her scenes (a false claim). While Ellen Burston, William Friedkin, Jason Miller and Owen Roizman would all be nominated but miss out on Oscars, the Academy’s big snub (in retrospect) may have been not awarding Th Exorcist Best Picture; that honor went to The Sting (a great film, sure– but hardy as genre defining and affective as The Exorcist). At least the Golden Globes got it right that year.
Over thirty five years later and The Exorcist still remains one of the defining horror films of all time. We still discuss and critique every aspect of the film. The original true-story, the startling Captain Howdy subliminal images, the spider-walk scene, the crucifix scene, the levitation, the pea soup… There’s been nothing like it since, and one has to wonder if, in today’s seemingly religious-free and desensitized society, we could ever see a film as horrific, frightening, nauseating and creepy as The Exorcist.
Formally Censored Rare Exorcist trailer
The Fear of God: 25 Years of The ExorcistThis documentary remains the most comprehensive look into the production and history of The Exorcist. It aired on the BBC in 1998 and you can find it on the The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition) DVD.
The Exorcist on DVD
I will include detailed reviews of the different DVD editions of The Exorcsit and their features soon. These are the discs I highly recommend:
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The Exorcist on paper
Several editions of William Peter Blatty’s novel have been re-printed over the years, though my personal favorite remains the original paperback (I personally own over a dozen copies). Books about the film and the production behind it have also been published, however none match the sheer depth and genius insight as Mark Kermode’s BFI Modern Classic edition. It’s the perfect partner for his Fear of God documentary – I highly recommend it.
The Exorcist Online
Some links from around the web
Box Office Mojo
The Cold Hard Facts Behind The Story That Inspired The Exorcist by Strange Magazine
Behind The Screams of The Exorcist by Paul Davis (2001) Part 1 “The Real Exorcist”
Behind The Screams of The Exorcist by Paul Davis (2001) Part 2 “Pre-Production Hell”
Jason Miller Remembers The Exorcist by Rich Drees
The Exorcist’s BBFC Certification History open document
TV Premiere for The Exorcist announced by BBC (2001)
Interview with writer/producer William Peter Blatty by Steve Head (2000)
This page is still under construction.