CineTV Contest: The Exorcist (1973): My favorite scary movie.

This is the one that does it for me. Welcome Father Merrin, we have been waiting for your arrival.

1971 was the year that William Peter Blatty wrote an unforgettable novel about the possession of a young girl by an evil spirit. The book titled The Exorcist went on to sell like hot cakes at the time. Millions of copies sold and it was translated into dozen of languages.

William Friedkin directs after his last roaring success, The French Connection (1971) where he won best director and best picture. He was on fire and decided to choose this story as his next project. Collaborating with the author, William Peter Blatty, this was an excellent sign that we are going to see something unique.

This movie was a phenomenon. People passing out in the theaters from shock, some becoming physically ill in the aisles. Nobody was ready for this type of film and it's often known as the most terrifying horror film ever made. I don't use this term lightly, I've watched hundreds upon hundreds of films within the genre and this still gets me each time I put it on for a screening.


Regan isn't here. Would you care to leave a message?
I'll be sure she gets it.

The story is a direct assault on the senses.

The makeup by legend Dick Smith transformed the sweet young girl, Regan MacNeil into the foul-mouthed demon named Pazuzu. Linda Blair, 14 at the time played the possessed girl. The transformation is what everyone remembers.

Initially thought to be a psychological disorder, a battery of tests prove there is nothing wrong with her medically. A mother at the end of her rope hears that an exorcism might be beneficial as a last resort. Religion creeps in with Father Damian Karras, a Jesuit psychiatrist that has his own problems. The biggest being a crisis of faith.

The book and the film differ and that's a good thing. I hate reading a novel and seeing the exact same representation on screen. In this case, Mr. Blatty didn't focus as much on the faith crisis of Father Karras and spent more time building all the interactions around Regan and her struggle against the demon.


Pazuzu vs Father Merrin, a battle with many rounds that lasts a lifetime.

The battle between good and evil is the crux of the film. The opening scene with Father Merrin in Iraq sets the mood so nicely. Friedkin frames an amazing shot of Merrin and a statue of Pazuzu, at this point unknown. They stare at each other across a gap in the sweltering heat while we hear wild dogs fighting until it dissolves into the setting sun.

As a first time viewer you don't know what it all means but you know it's a omen of things to come. I watch this scene and goosebumps start to form.

The stories about the film are legendary and are often called the curse of the exorcist. Strange deaths, fires and accidents surrounding the film were very common. Most of this information is on the extras of the dvds, blurays and are worth the time to watch.

This filmed pushed buttons. Many religious organizations thought actual evil was embedded in the celluloid of the 35mm prints. People didn't know what to make of it. A true one of a kind horror was made here never to be duplicated.


That thing upstairs is not my daughter! You're correct Mrs. MacNeil, this isn't her.

The audiences were shocked. The crucifix scene, the foul-mouthed language coming out of this possessed girl and her actual appearance repulsed audiences. Many also found it an uplifting tale as Regan is released by a selfless act perpetrated by Father Karras in the end. People questioned the nature of good and evil. If there is one there must be the other.

Many other interesting questions were raised surrounding this film during the filming. Eileen Dietz, was the stunt double of Linda Blair. She was tasked with the most violent and disturbing scenes as Linda Blair was still 14 and even she didn't understand what she was doing with the crucifix in that one fateful scene. They didn't have her uttering some of those memorable lines that shook you to the core either for a reason.

There has always been a question about crediting Dietz's work. She also played the face of the demon. There are still certain scenes where she is still not credited properly.

This topic also spills over into Mercedes McCambridge who played the voice of the demon. William Friedkin has mentioned many times he got her to chain smoke, drink and otherwise mutilate her voice to provide the unsettling voice of Pazuzu. Questions had remained whether or not what he subjected her to was abuse. She too was not credited for her performance at the time and if you've seen the film she is the demon. The visuals are disturbing but the voice is what propels it over the top.

She eventually did receive the proper recognition but it took time with some help from the industry guilds.


Pazuzu shows their form in a brief flash and the connection is made or severed.

Last but not least, the entire film is shot most in a documentary style as Friedkin came from this style of filmmaking initially. You could even say meta as Regan's mother is actually making a film during this actual movie. This makes the visuals look and feel more real. The characters are believable people especially Father Karras. The Jesuits sent him to school to be psychiatrist, he knows the real world and the world of religion. He's torn between both. I find his character to be the most interesting.

There isn't a single aspect I do not like about this film, in all honesty trying to write briefly is a real chore. There are at least 10,000 words waiting to spill out in this posting so I'll end it here.

What an excellent day for an exorcism. My favorite line from the film and it sure does look like a glorious one. Let's get the show on the road!

Thanks for the read 🙂

Photosensitive seizure warning

This is the banned trailer and can make you feel uneasy in more ways than one. This is the original pulled trailer with the fading black and white stills. Imagine seeing this in a dark theater! The discordant strings, the voice over, the minimal information and the ending with Regan's labored breathing produces something very disturbing and unforgettable.

What's your favorite scary movie says Ghostface. Come join in the fun.


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