Worth A Look: 24.17%
Pretty Bad: 1.9%
Total Crap: 1.9%
10 reviews, 151 user ratings
by iF Magazine
When you’re a washed up Hollywood hack like William Friedkin -- or George Lucas for that matter -- the bitterness of knowing your talent all lies in yesterday must be so great that if the opportunity arises to go back to your previous “watchable” films and “snip and cut,” your sole intent would be to castrate.And sever the bologna is exactly what Friedkin does to THE EXORCIST, converting what was once a daring tale that wasn’t condescending to the audience into a “masturbating with digital effects” cheap thrill ride. Yet cheap thrill rides are what brings in today’s little glue sniffers. So maybe dumbing it down a bit is the right thing for kids who have trouble spelling “train,” locating North America on a Globe, and putting jackets on properly -- much less pronouncing a behemoth of a word like exorcist.
"The version I've never seen? You can keep it!"
Stop me before I embody the ghost of Steve Allen.
Well for a person like me who was raised on quality horror like CAT IN THE BRAIN, DOCTOR BUTCHER MD, and NEW YORK RIPPER, horror is best achieved through a crescendo of assaults to our fear center. The slower the better. For as we all know a 10 minute Indian burn from our pederast uncle is far more horrifying then being repeatedly stabbed in the eye or having our throat torn out. Why? Hell if I know, it just is.
THE EXORCIST centers on two individuals: Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller). Chris is a renowned actress who’s just gotten divorced from her cad husband. This of course leaves the daughter open for all sorts of psychological problems. Since Chris is so damn special the only problem good enough for her prima donna daughter is possession by the dark lord himself -- Satan.
Father Karras (played by Miller as the most depressed priest in history) is having serious career doubts. Hell, why shouldn’t he? Thanks to going with the Catholic Church, he can’t afford to take care of his ailing mother -- so she dies alone in her apartment and isn’t found for days. (Folks, if you care for your mothers I highly suggest not becoming a Catholic priest/psychologist.) Anyway he’s racked with guilt and is losing his faith. The only way somebody like that could regain his faith is to have to do battle with the devil. How could you not have faith after that?
So both parties get the best possible outcome. Chris gets to top the Joneses with her “well my daughter was possessed by Lucifer” comments and Father Karras has his faith restored the only way possible -- a ludicrous miracle.
All other characters are just there to assist them in getting their rewards, take up space, and move the plot forward.
The film wraps up with a dead Swede, a blood splattered priest and a very boring discussion between Lee J. Cobb and some other priest.
All right, I confess there was more. Like tight direction, subtle subliminal shots, tight progression of horrors, genuine pathos, excellent cinematography, splendid script, and an eye and ear for the unnerving.
Now this version comes along and suddenly those two or three devil faces -- so sparingly used in the original -- are all over the place, like Pokemons at an elementary school picnic, and feel as useful as squid ice cream. So now instead of letting the horror hit us, it’s thrown in our faces. We aren’t allowed, as in the original version, to grow into the horror; instead the film now jabs us in the ribs and screams “HEY BUDDY SOMETHING SCARY’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN.”
However, on a positive note, the additional scenes added up to and including the exorcism don’t detract from the film. Yet, in the process of letting his heavy hands go too far Friedkin adds a final CASABLANCA-esque shot in which Cobb and priest banter off into the sunset. This allows the audience to get real bored before the end credits hit.
Well, it seems such a shame that with all the money that went into cleaning up this print and remastering the sound that things weren’t just left at that. This is going to be THE EXORCIST that we’ll be stuck with for all time, which is a sin against God. However, I would like to say thank God that with the digital additions Jar Jar didn’t show up.
(Meesa thinks theysa goona be da Devil… he scary!)
The DVD’s sound and picture are excellent -- in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and Surround. The two theatrical trailers are self-important and dull. The four TV spots are equally insipid. The two radio spots drone on and on. The subtitles are in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
The commentary track is one of the most obnoxious things I’ve heard in awhile. In this we get to hear Friedkin forget that he’s supposed to be talking about the movie and instead turn into the Learning Channel.One last thing for the record, and if you know, please e-mail me at this publication and tell me: Who the hell takes a film out of the hands of an early 1970’s William “THE FRENCH CONNECTION” Friedkin and passes it to the William “JADE” Friedkin?-- Andrew Hershberger
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1142&reviewer=119
originally posted: 02/24/01 15:09:10
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