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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 24.17%
Average: 10.9%
Pretty Bad: 1.9%
Total Crap: 1.9%

10 reviews, 151 user ratings

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Exorcist, The
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by MP Bartley

"Head spinning."
4 stars

Where would we be without 'The Exorcist'? We'd be without one crappy sequel and one crappy prequel for a start. But we'd also be without possibly the most controversial and talked about horror film ever as well. Because whether the lashings of critical praise heaped upon it are warranted or not, it can't be denied that it needs to be seen and it needs to discussed.

Iraq in the 70's and Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) is helping to excavate an old ruin. However he finds idols and statues that disturb him and seem to have an adverse and violent effect on those around them. Over in America, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is doing quite nicely for herself as an actress and as a single mother to the chubby and cute Reagan (Linda Blair). Meanwhile, a few streets away Father Karras (Jason Miller) is undergoing a crisis of faith. His mother is dying, he can't do anything for her and he can't shake the feeling that he's in the wrong profession. What brings these three seperate groups together is the change that Reagan is about to undergo - and it's not the normal one that girls go through. After falling victim to a series of fits, Reagan changes from a toothy ickle girl to a cursing, screaming child from hell with a penchant for head spinning, projectile vomiting and speaking in tongues. She's possessed and who ya gonna call? Not the Ghostbusters in this case.

Let's get one thing out of the way: 'The Exorcist' is not the five-star, soul shattering experience that it's often made out to be. Perhaps it was at the time, but not any more. I'm not pretending to be a tough cookie, I'm quite easily scared or creeped out, but 'The Exorcist' has dated in places. The infamous head-spinning moment looks really false now, and the projectile vomiting is more likely to elicit grossed out laughs than shrieks of terror. There are other problems too. The Iraq prologue is clunky and feels like it was added on from another film. And the re-appearance of Father Merrin at the end also feels tacked on. And for those who want their terrors instant and fast, they should be warned that 'The Exorcist' takes a good 40 minutes to warm up and get the chills going.

But don't let those criticisms cloud the main point of 'The Exorcist', which is this: just go see it. Now. Because 'The Exorcist' is perhaps the creepiest experience you'll ever have, rather than out and out scary. Friedkin, one of the darling boys of the 70's, casts the whole film in a solemn, gloomy atmosphere. It drips with impending doom and a deep sense of dread. He tones all the colours down to a melancholic autumn feel, which gives it a realistic feel that worked so well in his 'The French Connection'. The horrors of 'The Exorcist' work so effectively because they took place in a resolutely ordinary setting. No haunted hotels, no storm-wracked tropical island, no abandoned ship, just a nice, suburban house.

And the horrors are affecting ordinary people too. Burstyn is great as the increasingly-horrified mother and Blair does some incredible work under the terrific make-up. Von Sydow is loaded with gravitas and authority as Merrin, although it's Miller who pulls off the best performance. He's soulful, wounded and desperate all at the same time and Miller conveys simply through his resigned body language or anguished face. Tough performances for a tough film.

And tough the scares are when they come. Friedkin freaks you out several times with his subliminal flashes of the demon possessing Reagan. He finds scares in the most ordinary places and through his intelligent use of framing (the reappearance of Karras' dead mother mid-exorcism).

But 'The Exorcist' is not the scariest film you will ever see. It may be the scariest film you ever hear however. Friedkin's use of sound is dazzling and I firmly believe that 'The Exorcist' would be just as scary listened to as an audio-tape as it is as a visual film.

Just listen to the buzzing of insects that infest the film at times. There's the growls of fighting dogs that reach a deranged pitch before suddenly cutting to a quiet suburban scene. The demon first manifests itself as really unnerving sound in the attic. And then the sound of the possessed Reagan herself, is the scariest thing in the film. Animal cries, screams, backwards English and a growly throat are all mixed together to devastating effect. Indeed, the biggest jump in the film is the demon's cry of "Merrin!" when you least expect it.

The quick glimpses of the demon may haunt you at nights, but it is it's soft chuckle that will really get under your skin and freak you out.

Sequels and prequels notwithstanding, 'The Exorcist' deserves a place in the horror top ten for its sheer impact alone. No other film before or after has had quite the same pervasive impact on culture and society. It may not be the scariest film ever made, but when you turn the lights out and huddle under the blankets after seeing it, it would be a brave soul that would consider dismissing it lightly.

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originally posted: 10/30/04 00:17:54
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User Comments

8/27/17 Justin Arkinson Still loving it nearly 20 years after first post I made! 5 stars
10/02/16 morris campbell dated but still scary as hell 5 stars
4/06/15 stanley welles fierce and powerful 5 stars
7/24/12 Dane Youssef Memorably horrifying. A landmark of it's time. But seems kind of silly by today's standards 5 stars
4/04/11 The Big D OK horror film, but nowhere near as scary as DArk Night of the Scarecrow! 3 stars
9/07/10 Malteras greatest horror movie of all time 5 stars
3/07/10 Marc Kelly Stand the test of time. 5 stars
11/21/09 art A SICK FILM! 1 stars
10/23/09 Arnold67 I could see as a viable capitalistic option. , 4 stars
10/18/09 Randall Krueger Afer 35 years this film has become a classic for horror lovers, and still sets the standard 4 stars
7/28/09 Luisa SCARIEST MOVIE ever!!!! 5 stars
1/20/09 Camilo Espinoza One of the best horror m ovies ever 5 stars
10/28/08 booberry when i watched this, i wasn't that scared. and i am only 12 years old!!!! 3 stars
10/20/08 Monster A Go-Go The original is still the BEST! Head-spinning, projectile vomit, what's not to love? 5 stars
10/13/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Story!! 4 stars
1/05/08 Justin Arkinson last time i rated this was nearly 8 years ago. madness hi. still cool, esp TVYNS 5 stars
5/03/07 john This movie caused mass hysteria. How many other movies have done that? 5 stars
4/27/07 Total Crap 2007 and still no horror movie can match this masterpiece. 5 stars
3/09/07 Sugarfoot Enjoyable and scary, but I always liked the third best. 4 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega The scariest movie of all time. The Exorcist rules!!! 5 stars
1/27/07 action movie fan it scared me like no other before and after great story and effects best film of 1973 5 stars
1/21/07 David A. Not scary for anyone who's seen Dark Night of the Scarecrow. 2 stars
12/18/06 JeromeBosch I shat my diaper the first time. And again when I read the book. 5 stars
11/06/06 Chris seen this movie when it first came out and scared the hell out of me. 5 stars
10/23/06 WTF GODLIKE!! Linda Blair is so fuckin Hot! 5 stars
10/22/06 Neil Brilliantly combines depth and thrill. As art and entertainment, may be the best horror pic 5 stars
9/25/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, frightening 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Following American Werewolf in London, The Exorcist is the epitamy of frightening& awesome! 5 stars
5/07/06 dionwr Still scary after all these years--superior horror 4 stars
5/02/06 Ryan_A Haven't seen it in a LONG time, but it still scares the crap outta me. 5 stars
5/02/06 William Goss I think it's her time of the month. 4 stars
5/02/06 David Cornelius Pea soup + Ouija = bad complexion 5 stars
5/02/06 HBS-SH burt's broken jaw 5 stars
3/23/06 tabiya karim very very very scary 5 stars
3/17/06 richard citra one of the most intelligent horror movies of all time.Excellent!!! 5 stars
2/12/06 Maz Greatest horror film of all time!!Terrified when i watched it first 5 stars
12/14/05 deadfishrman when I first saw this movie I couldnt sleep for 2 weeks 5 stars
11/26/05 shell bell Honestly, this was one of the only movies that scared the crap out of me! 5 stars
10/26/05 Richard Brandt 30 years later, the emotional impact is much more apparent. "Is my daughter going to die?" 5 stars
10/26/05 Carolyn Rathburn Wicked, worth seeing again 4 stars
10/21/05 cypress I slept with the light on for a month after seeing this movie! 5 stars
10/20/05 PAG Very scary and creepy 5 stars
10/19/05 the untrained eye Truly one of THE greatest horror films of all time! 5 stars
9/13/05 Total Crap Not for the faint of heart. This director is Dangerous. Exorcist AKA "Scariest Movie Ever" 5 stars
8/30/05 ES The new add in stuff take away from the suspense, the original version is superior 4 stars
8/03/05 Sean Davis Scariest movie of all time. I love it...but I can't even own freaks me out. 5 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Sure it's good, but it really doesn't seem to live up to its reputation. 4 stars
3/26/05 Kristina Williams your mother sucks cocks in hell! 5 stars
3/24/05 erebus45 very well done 5 stars
3/13/05 ELI one of the best horror movies ever! why did they make all those crappy sequels??? 5 stars
3/02/05 Jeff Anderson The most nerve-racking film experience of my life & terrific! LINDA BLAIR IS BRILLIANT!!!!! 5 stars
2/17/05 Rachel Neely This is my absolute favorite movie of all time. 5 stars
1/11/05 Katie Heath the horror of all horrors - nothing has ever matched it 5 stars
10/02/04 jeff would the father really fuck her if the cameras werent around? 5 stars
9/26/04 Bucky Buckner Boone The very best of its kind. Often duplicated, never successfully 5 stars
8/06/04 Anthony G how the fuck can you think movie is scary, I would fuck her though 1 stars
7/25/04 MorallySound I've actually seen someone get possessed for 5 minutes! NO JOKE! This movie is real horror! 5 stars
7/17/04 J This is the so-called scariest movie, not scary but nice!!! 4 stars
7/16/04 alex great movie but somewhat over-rated 4 stars
7/11/04 Vince Not bad, but definitely over-rated 3 stars
6/02/04 TheExorcist Damn. The scariest movie ever. 5 stars
4/18/04 Father Merrin THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE. PERIOD. 5 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Scary and supenseful religious horror film. 5 stars
2/01/04 britney eww this movie should be destroyed it f**k*n sucks 1 stars
1/25/04 Sarah I just saw it today WOW wat a good movie, freakie, but good. i loved the spider walk!!! 5 stars
1/16/04 ophylia777 holy crap!! So scary! 5 stars
1/08/04 A F I suppose if I were a cat lick it would be scarier, but it was alright. 4 stars
12/27/03 Monster W. Kung Pathetically overrated so-called 'classic', nothing special at all. 2 stars
11/27/03 John it's scary because the movie makes it real 5 stars
10/20/03 Samuel Justus A great horror movie! Not really as scary as everyone says it is tho... 5 stars
10/14/03 Ian I found this funny rather than scary but it was still good 4 stars
10/06/03 Rosalyn Guccio I still can't watch this movie alone, 20 yrs later it still scares the shit out of me. 4 stars
8/15/03 JOEY i love the exorcist true story and fuck scary 5 stars
8/04/03 Joman overated but still scary 4 stars
7/19/03 Daddy Plaid Linda Blair's dirty talk still turns me on!!!! Fock me!! Lick me!!! 5 stars
7/17/03 Emily I practically pissed myself the first time I saw it...havent eaten pea soup 5 stars
7/13/03 Jack Sommersby A clunky script redeemed by fine acting and intuitive direction. More intersting than scary 4 stars
6/25/03 Alice This is Horror ! 5 stars
4/11/03 Ross Bernard not so much scary just so fucking disturbing! i love it! 5 stars
4/08/03 Mystique Scary 5 stars
1/07/03 me i still cant sleep. extremely good. 5 stars
1/05/03 Vince first time i saw it was the re-release in theaters. scariest movie of my life. 5 stars
10/26/02 Morally Sound Scared me as a kid, still scares me today! Awesome! 5 stars
10/24/02 Anastasia Beaverhausen Still scary after all these years 5 stars
10/22/02 Clob "Spellbinding! A blend of documentary film and Hollywood!" 5 stars
8/27/02 Ramblin Wreck THE Scariest Movie EVER MADE!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/08/02 I Can't Swim I saw this a week after it opened, it was an event movie w/o comparison, at the time 5 stars
7/20/02 ! Best horror movie ever! Just a fact 5 stars
6/06/02 I'm in (L) with a Jedi phew! 5 stars
4/24/02 Monster W. Kung Overlong and overrated. Not bad, but not the classic some think it is. 3 stars
4/15/02 Mark Hortop A truly amazing film. Although extremely disturbing everyone should see it. 5 stars
3/02/02 Chowie Fucking brilliant 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Classic horror. The book is better, but the film gets points for trying. 4 stars
1/17/02 David A. Scary to those who have not survived Dark Night of Scarecrow. The subliminals didn't help. 4 stars
1/02/02 Cathy A very disturbing move, true to the novel. Makes you really think, unlike most horrors. 5 stars
12/04/01 palmreader scary for church people but not much for regular folk. Quackers be shitting brick loads. 4 stars
10/15/01 Andrew Carden Very Well Done Movie, but Some Of The Scenes Are So Stupid and Mindless. 3 stars
10/05/01 Evil Bitchwoman Quite overrated and it is so NOT freaky. I cant think y my mum h8's it! 3 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith Linda? Still spitting that "green" stuff???????? 5 stars
8/29/01 Gary Completely silly and unsubtle, but it's relentlessness is quite captivating. 3 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk One of the scariest, disturbing movies I have ever seen. An example of brilliant filmmaking 5 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg Without crossing my minde,the best horror ever made 5 stars
6/16/01 Bada Bing Crosby The sole reason I love good movies so much, along w/'Nashville' 5 stars
5/08/01 guyguy one of the best movies, also part 3 is really good too and has some links back to this film 5 stars
5/04/01 roby lafon scary as hell 5 stars
4/19/01 Tam Freaky and disturbing, but a tad overrated. It does linger in your mind a bit though. 4 stars
4/13/01 R.W. Welch Not the scariest of movies, but skillful as the devil. 4 stars
4/10/01 Mic Not very scary, but shot rather well 4 stars
4/09/01 ChErRyRiPe scary film. 5 stars
4/03/01 warrun By far the best scarry movie ever made 5 stars
3/31/01 Chris Gmiterek Just an excellent film. This movie has stood the test of time and still creeps me out! 5 stars
3/25/01 Jonathan A must on the big screen 5 stars
3/08/01 jordan first half is awesome. second half sucks. exorcist II: the heretic makes this look horrible 3 stars
3/03/01 Matt "...think happy thoughts.." 5 stars
3/03/01 Jacob Myers Pretty funny if you ask me 5 stars
2/17/01 Michael Nicholls If you have a crucifix dont watch this film... 4 stars
2/10/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi Fucking Awesome. Period. 5 stars
2/01/01 Vivien Leung it's not wanting your FAKE scream... but something deeper... its the fear inside 5 stars
12/14/00 Tom Those who don't appretiate true horror shouldn't be allowed to watch this masterpiece! 5 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla I'ts not that scary, but it was pretty shocking too, especially at the end 5 stars
11/19/00 Rima Yahfoufi It was vey scary and kinda funny 5 stars
11/05/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble The greatest movie ever made. Shames Hollywood today. 5 stars
10/31/00 master.node Love! the rebuilt soundtrack. Those who don't like TE haven't bothered to think about it. 5 stars
10/24/00 Elvisfan The one and only - Reed Rothchild is Right! 5 stars
10/17/00 chouck One of the scenes in the doctor's office creeped me out, the rest was pretty boring 3 stars
10/16/00 OneShitMonday Loud, ugly and creepy. Over the top but draws you in and doesn't let go. 4 stars
9/30/00 Chuck I'm desensitized to this stuff. I watched passively, took it in, and was underwhelmed. 3 stars
9/28/00 grunter Pea-green puke, festering scars and demon entreaties to incest no longer scare in 2000 3 stars
9/26/00 joey obviously, anyone who doesn't like this doesnt have the sence to understand it 5 stars
9/24/00 Will See it in the big screen! See it in the big screen! 5 stars
8/13/00 Tony K. Is it true that the original in theatres had subliminal messages, making it scarier? 4 stars
1/20/00 Jedi15 Not really scary, but DEFINITELY unsettling, even after 20 or so years. The sequel is shit! 5 stars
1/13/00 k.tomkowski ver scar and unforgettable 5 stars
7/10/99 Justin Arkinson Cool 5 stars
7/04/99 J-Dogg Don't remember this movie, but I've always liked it. Need to rent it too. 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Scary in the same way that The Shining is scary. Eerie! 5 stars
6/03/99 Matthew Bartley What is all the fuss about?Boring,laughable.NOT SCARY!!! 1 stars
5/03/99 The Bomb 69 not a horror fan, but this movie makes up for it 5 stars
4/11/99 Alonzo ( this movie was awesome, anyone who says otherwise sucks 5 stars
4/07/99 Geoffrey T. Spaulding THE BEST FUCKING DEMONIC POSSESION MOVIE IN HISTORY!!!!!! 5 stars
3/19/99 Dave Chambers bloody good 5 stars
3/04/99 a Simply stated: The finest horror movie ever made. 5 stars
12/04/98 Mike F I guess I don't like movies like this. 2 stars
12/01/98 Mr.Pink YIKES! 5 stars
11/27/98 br Wow. One of the scariest ever made 5 stars
11/22/98 little jerry Good moments but not very scary.Not a patch on ROSEMARY'S BABY for getting under your skin. 4 stars
11/10/98 Johny Would you believe Friedkin also made JADE? 5 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob From literary scripts, come literary visions. 'Dimi, why you do this to me?' 5 stars
10/15/98 {{{OZ}}} Don't take the planet's word for it. Take mine. This fuckin' rules. 5 stars
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  26-Dec-1973 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2010

  16-Mar-1974 (18)

  22-Mar-2001 (R)

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