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If Burke Dennings Death had been seen
October 21, 2009
11:59 PM

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I realize that a depiction of Burke Dennings being attacked and killed by Reagan/Demon was ommitted from the film to add to the mystery of his death. Could you imagine how much scarier the original movie would have been had we seen Reagan/demon lunge at a drunken unsuspecting Burke Dennings and physically twist his head around, while he screamed in horror? Then Reagan/ demon would be seen throwing him out her open window. Such a scene would have left audiences even more horror stricken than they already were. The fact that the scene was ommitted did much to add to Burke's mysterious death, but to actually see his gruesome death would leave the audiences afraid even longer.

October 21, 2009
11:59 PM
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Couldn't disagree more. Much as it would have been a thrill, it would have been too much too early in the film and the rest of the upcoming shocks would loose their impact.
What you don't see and are left to imagine is always scarier that what you do see. Contrary to what many believe I don't think there is actually that much depicted horror on screen in the Exorcist. Three or four strong scenes at best. The rest, like all really effective horror films is implied.

October 22, 2009
11:59 PM

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I agree that leaving Bruke's death out of the film was the right call. Was his death described in more detail in the book?

I have always been curious as to how Burke's head ended up backwards. The movie says it connected to witchcraft. Does anyone know anything about a connection to witchcraft outside of the Exorcist?

…and did Regan's body kill Burke or did the demon use its telekinetic power to break his neck. Or perhaps the demon entered Burke's body, twisted his head around and then left causing him to die? Interesting thoughts. Anyone know how it was suppose to happen in canon?

October 22, 2009
11:59 PM

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In the novel…

Burke goes into Regan's room as he hears noises and moans coming from it. When he gets there Regan takes him by the throat, screaming that he caused her parents' divorce… This is stated by Regan/demon on the last chapter of the novel. Oh, she also says that his neck turning around backwards was an accident and it happened in the fall.

*devoted to The Exorcist novel, Shirley MacLaine & Sachi M = Chris & Regan MacNeil forever *
October 23, 2009
11:59 PM

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…so it was all about the divorce after-all!

October 25, 2009
11:59 PM

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Sof,

I don't remember this and why is it in the novel's "last chapter?" I must go back and read this again! I'm confused by the twists and turns you mention about the who says what and when.

FB

We may ask what is relevant, but anything beyond that is dangerous.
October 25, 2009
11:59 PM

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"I have always been curious as to how Burke’s head ended up backwards. The movie says it connected to witchcraft. Does anyone know anything about a connection to witchcraft outside of the Exorcist?"

In the novel, there's a subplot on a witchcraft book that Regan read prior to her acting out occult rituals. She may have read about ritual murder in that book, too. You are always in doubt and suspense as to whether or not she's possessed or mentally ill.

*devoted to The Exorcist novel, Shirley MacLaine & Sachi M = Chris & Regan MacNeil forever *
October 25, 2009
11:59 PM

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Fatherb, in the last chapter during the exorcism, the "Demon as Dennings" speaks through Regan and says that. Here's the excerpt:

"Karras opened up his eyes and saw the Dennings personality.
'…Look, she killed me. Not our innkeeper, Karras – she! Oh, yes, indeed!' It was nodding affirmation. 'She! I was minding my business at the bar, you see, when I thought I heard her moaning. Upstairs. Well, now, I had to see what ailed her, after all, so up I went and don't you know she bloody took me by the throat, the little c*unt!' The voice was whiny now; pathetic. 'Christ, I've never in my life seen such strength! Began to scream that I was diddling her mother or something, or that I caused the divorce. Some such thing. It wasn't clear. But I tell you, love, she pushed me out the bloody window!' Voice cracking. High-pitched now. 'She killed me! Now you think it's bloody fair to throw me out? Come along, now, Karras, answer me! You think it really fair? I mean, do you?'
Karras swallowed.
'How was … the head turned around?' asked Karras hoarsely.
Dennings shifted his gaze around evasively. 'Oh, well, that was an accident… a freak… I hit the steps, you know…It was freaky.' "

But, you know, I don't get this. Dennings was discovered with his neck turned around in the style of ritual murder by so-called demons. Kinderman says this to Chris while she's reading the witchcraft book. So how come that according to Regan, Dennings's neck wrenched around was caused by he hitting the steps?

*devoted to The Exorcist novel, Shirley MacLaine & Sachi M = Chris & Regan MacNeil forever *
October 26, 2009
11:59 PM

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Thanks, Sof. I see Blatty's point of tidying things up a bit in this chapter. I like that Blatty let us in on something through Kinderman that was not true. This, naturally, occured at the dining room table scene with Chris. A sort of twisted ending. No pun intended! ;)

FB

We may ask what is relevant, but anything beyond that is dangerous.
October 26, 2009
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I think today's younger audience needs to have every detail spelled out for them on-screen. They just don't pick up on subtlety, and implied inference.

October 26, 2009
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"But, you know, I don’t get this. Dennings was discovered with his neck turned around in the style of ritual murder by so-called demons. Kinderman says this to Chris while she’s reading the witchcraft book. So how come that according to Regan, Dennings’s neck wrenched around was caused by he hitting the steps?"

Remember "The demon is a liar".

The whole point of this conversation with the Demon/Dennings entity is an attempt to confound Karras and make him think Regan is Insane and not possessed.
We cannot accept what it says as fact, more likely it is the opposite of truth. As is the statement that Regan did the killing rather than the Demon.

The Demon killed Dennings. It twisted his head around, as described in the book Mrs Perrin (cut out of the film) lent Chris and which Regan subsequently read. Specifically in order to introduce doubt into Karras at a later time.

October 26, 2009
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Which is exactly why both the novel and film, The Exorcist, are unique as Hell.

FB

We may ask what is relevant, but anything beyond that is dangerous.
November 6, 2009
8:47 PM

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Amen, fatherb

Jagged, thanks for the explanation, it made sense…but what if there isn't a demon and Regan really suffers from mental illness, hmm? The onset of possession could be a product of suggestion…. (I'm sounding like Father Karras now) .

*devoted to The Exorcist novel, Shirley MacLaine & Sachi M = Chris & Regan MacNeil forever *
November 6, 2009
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Sofia said:

Amen, fatherb

Jagged, thanks for the explanation, it made sense…but what if there isn't a demon and Regan really suffers from mental illness, hmm? The onset of possession could be a product of suggestion…. (I'm sounding like Father Karras now) .


Ah, but for the purposes of the novel and film, she was possessed and the possibility of it being mental illness was just a red herring.

No need to over analyse that particular dark path ;)

November 8, 2009
10:44 PM
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Dennings in the morgue is descrined in the book also.

I always assumed the demon was lying to confuse Karras.

November 10, 2009
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Ah, but if you watch the Friedkin introduction on the 25th Anniversary Edition, Friedkin says he believes that this film should put some doubt into your mind about inexplicable events. The viewer should be the judge and take away from the film what they viewed.

Again, that's what makes this novel/film so incredible.

There are lots of cases of "true" exorcisms … but are they all “real?” For your reading pleasure (I know I posted this in the past), have a peek at the post here: http://www.chasingthefrog.com/reelfaces/emilyrose.php

Lastly listen to the actual audio of a segment of the Anneliese Michel exorcism.

Have you read and listened yet? If so, my thoughts:

The article link: I believe it's written by an objective writer making clear points on epilepsy and demonic possession. Frontal lobe epilepsy can induce vividly wild hallucinations. Mix this in with a small village of mostly Catholics and you have a piece of the puzzle solved about why Anneliese say and heard demons.

The video link: The Exorcist was release in 1974 in Germany. Anneliese was a devout and strict Catholic. If she suffered from severe mental problems, watched the film, and then imitated what was in the film, that's a no brainer.

Should there a great divide between antiquated religious ceremonies and the practice of medicine/mental health?

Personally, I think this poor German girl's rantings resembles nothing that is demonic in sound on tape (but, it's about a 1/4 good representation on Mercedes McCambridge voiceover for Linda Blair.)

Google Anneliese Michel … she was not possessed; she suffered at the hands of religious zealots who led her to her death.

FB

We may ask what is relevant, but anything beyond that is dangerous.
November 10, 2009
3:05 PM

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Thank you, Fatherb. Yes, I get more enjoyment out of the novel by thinking that Regan might be mentally ill, but, honestly, in the movie it's very hard to have this doubt.

I've read a lot about Anneliese's case and it disturbes me, really. I can't even listen to that audio without getting goose pimples. I don't know what to believe.. 

*devoted to The Exorcist novel, Shirley MacLaine & Sachi M = Chris & Regan MacNeil forever *
November 11, 2009
1:03 PM
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fatherbowdern said: 

Ah, but if you watch the Friedkin introduction on the 25th Anniversary Edition, Friedkin says he believes that this film should put some doubt into your mind about inexplicable events. The viewer should be the judge and take away from the film what they viewed.

Lastly listen to the actual audio of a segment of the Anneliese Michel exorcism.

The video link: The Exorcist was release in 1974 in Germany. Anneliese was a devout and strict Catholic. If she suffered from severe mental problems, watched the film, and then imitated what was in the film, that's a no brainer.

Should there a great divide between antiquated religious ceremonies and the practice of medicine/mental health?

Personally, I think this poor German girl's rantings resembles nothing that is demonic in sound on tape (but, it's about a 1/4 good representation on Mercedes McCambridge voiceover for Linda Blair.)


I think Freidkin has got somewhat stuck on that quote over the years. God bless the man, he was a genius director in his day but he's not the last word on the issue, IMHO Blatty is, and he made it pretty clear what he thought. he was writing a novel about faith and possession. the mental illness was a red herring.

I couldn't agree more on the Anneliese Michell issue. I think you've nailed it.

November 11, 2009
2:19 PM

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Jagged said:


I think Freidkin has got somewhat stuck on that quote over the years. God bless the man, he was a genius director in his day but he's not the last word on the issue, IMHO Blatty is, and he made it pretty clear what he thought. he was writing a novel about faith and possession. the mental illness was a red herring.

I couldn't agree more on the Anneliese Michell issue. I think you've nailed it.


You can believe in whatever you want. That's the great thing about the novel, too. The book is deeply religious, of course, but Blatty's intention was for the reader to be caught between the belief that Regan was truly possessed, and the notion that she was mentally ill. 

Blatty on the novel:

"…is this little girl possessed or is she emotionally unbalanced. In approaching it, my tactic was to work with an M.D. who was concerned only with ailments of the body and a psychiatrist. I brought her to these people as a patient. I kept going and adding on new symptoms. The M.D. told me to take her to a psychiatrist. And then I went to a psychiatrist and with him I followed the same methodology. In part, I think that is why the story is so interesting and why you are always in some doubt and suspense, because at every turn there seems to be a new medical or psychiatric explanation for what is happening to the girl. Then as various paranormal phenomena would appear I would again call doctors and psychiatrists with different specialties  

The name of the psychiatrist I spoke to, oddly, was Hitchcock."

"The book mentions many scientific theories on paranormal activities, they help to maintain an "investigative" style of storytelling that serves to heighten the drama."

*devoted to The Exorcist novel, Shirley MacLaine & Sachi M = Chris & Regan MacNeil forever *
November 12, 2009
1:36 AM
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Sofia said:

Jagged said:


I think Freidkin has got somewhat stuck on that quote over the years. God bless the man, he was a genius director in his day but he's not the last word on the issue, IMHO Blatty is, and he made it pretty clear what he thought. he was writing a novel about faith and possession. the mental illness was a red herring.

I couldn't agree more on the Anneliese Michell issue. I think you've nailed it.


You can believe in whatever you want. That's the great thing about the novel, too. The book is deeply religious, of course, but Blatty's intention was for the reader to be caught between the belief that Regan was truly possessed, and the notion that she was mentally ill. 

Blatty on the novel:

"…is this little girl possessed or is she emotionally unbalanced. In approaching it, my tactic was to work with an M.D. who was concerned only with ailments of the body and a psychiatrist. I brought her to these people as a patient. I kept going and adding on new symptoms. The M.D. told me to take her to a psychiatrist. And then I went to a psychiatrist and with him I followed the same methodology. In part, I think that is why the story is so interesting and why you are always in some doubt and suspense, because at every turn there seems to be a new medical or psychiatric explanation for what is happening to the girl. Then as various paranormal phenomena would appear I would again call doctors and psychiatrists with different specialties  

The name of the psychiatrist I spoke to, oddly, was Hitchcock."

"The book mentions many scientific theories on paranormal activities, they help to maintain an "investigative" style of storytelling that serves to heighten the drama."


That's Blatty describing the process of constructing the plot and how he wants the reader to feel whilst reading it.

Later in the same book he states:

"Even in terms of my novel, I have never known the demon's identity. I strongly doubt that he is Satan and he is certainly none of the spirits of the dead whose identity he sometimes assumes. If I had to guess, I would say he is Pazuzu, the Assyrian demon of the southwest wind. But I'm not really sure. I know only that he's real and powerful and evil and apparently one of many-and aligned with whatever is opposed to love.

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