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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 Rob Gonsalves

"Still freaky after all these years, even with the unnecessary changes."
4 stars

Those who've only seen 'The Exorcist' on video -- or, Satan forbid, on network television -- may, like me, gain a greater appreciation for the film in its new beefed-up theatrical release, where its bigger-than-life horrors and chaotic sound design can envelop you.

My mother was among the many moviegoers who, in 1973, took the Exorcist ride and never got over it; only recently was she able to brave it again (in diluted form, on TV). After years of my mother's fearful build-up, The Exorcist struck me as more silly than scary when I was finally old enough to see it, and perhaps the film's rep as "the scariest movie of all time" might lead to the same jaded reaction from younger audiences who see it now for the first time.

About halfway through this refurbished Exorcist -- which I probably hadn't seen in its entirety in well over a decade -- I realized why I was appreciating it on a deeper level. The Exorcist, you see, is not a horror movie. It doesn't belong in the same class as Cheez Whiz like The Omen or the more recent Stigmata, two other religious-dread flicks. No, these days I read it more as a drama with supernatural underpinnings, like a harsher, R-rated M. Night Shyamalan film. It unfolds slowly -- perhaps, for today's audience, too slowly -- fleshing out the humans who will soon do battle with a demon. Director William Friedkin's style is unhurried and decidedly unflashy except for the moments of terror; he establishes a glum, banal reality, then violates it, cruelly, in a way that makes us feel the pain and fear of everyone trying to deal with the madness.

Some bits remain cringe-inducing. I still think Friedkin and screenwriter-producer William Peter Blatty (adapting his own bestseller) overemphasized the cuddly-cute innocence of Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair); the contrast between the normal girl and the possessed girl didn't need to be that severe. Ellen Burstyn's Chris MacNeil, delirious with frustration and powerless rage over what's happening to her daughter, can get on your nerves after a while -- but I came to see that as a form of integrity. Burstyn doesn't care whether we like her; she stays in character as a flawed but decent woman cracking under the weight of the unspeakable.

Overall, the movie remains a superbly designed machine (though in form only; those who have called the film "impersonal" may not remember the painfully compassionate subplot dealing with Jason Miller's depressed priest and his failing mother). But is this new Exorcist -- with its added footage, its sweetened sound mix, and its handful of jarring new subliminal images -- a travesty or an improvement? I wouldn't call it a travesty -- the film entire remains mostly intact, the 121-minute cut you know and love; nothing significant has been deleted -- but it isn't an improvement, either.

The newly dusted-off scenes -- originally trimmed by Friedkin to whittle the film down to two hours -- don't amount to much: the two priests having a brief conference on the stairs outside Regan's room; a bit showing Regan's early visit to a doctor; the infamous "spider-walk" sequence, more freaky than scary. The most needless addition is a bit of chat at the end between a priest and a detective, which is meant to echo an earlier conversation. These new/old bits don't trash the movie (though they overdid the new subliminals a bit), nor do they enhance it.

My biggest gripe with Exorcist Version 2.0 is, oddly, the way it sounds now. Yes, the sound effects have been intensified, often to the film's benefit -- an abruptly ringing phone sounds as if it's sitting on your shoulder; the flying debris in Regan's bedroom patters and smashes around your head. For those who've only seen the film in mono sound (as it was first released), it's a real ear-opener. However, Friedkin has also seen fit to underline many scenes -- even simple, non-shocking dialogue sequences -- with ominously swelling, deep-chord music cues. This gravely alters the movie's tone, in ways subtle and obvious. Part of what freaked people out about The Exorcist was its contrast between the naturalistic and the supernatural -- between deceptively calm moments and loud, crashing horror. The movie's eerie quietude is gone, replaced by a generic "This scene might be boring and talky, but scary stuff is coming up" horror-movie soundtrack.

'The Exorcist' is jolting and scarifying in either version. But the version hailed as a great achievement in supernatural cinema, or "the scariest movie of all time," is available on DVD in its original form, with much of the deleted footage included as a supplement. I plan to buy that soon. I don't plan to buy the new one.

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originally posted: 01/13/07 09:19:13
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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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