And a great start for horror newcomers as well! I've been a fan of horror movies for years and the original Exorcist was not only one of my first, but it became a personal favorite of mine. For many, it's not only the sheer frightfulness of it that made it such a good film (back in the 70's, anyways. Even my mom said it wasn't as scary today as it was back then), but it was what it made people think about as well. In a world where religion tends to be the prime concern of all people, exorcism began to drift out of the minds of many as well as many ideas behind Satanism and supernatural evils. This movie brought this line of thought back and in full force. What better way to watch these classics than to purchase such a great collection at a reasonable price?
Now onto separate quick movie critiques:
The Exorcist (Original and Director's Cut): The classic that started it all. There's not much here that needs to be said with a few exceptions. First off, if you have not yet seen this movie, prepare yourself to be possibly disturbed by some very grisly, disgusting and sickening scenes and visuals. Second, in the Director's Cut, there is a very graphic and bloody scene that was not included in the original. However, this is NOT the original version of the scene. The original footage was not all too believable and can be found on YouTube (search "Spider Walk Scene" and look for the original). And finally, again in the director's cut, watch closely for "subliminal" images, as I've seen them called before. Two hard to spot ones are he evil demon face in the stove hood when Mrs. MacNeil comes home and the power flickers and in the final exorcism scene, where in the window you can very briefly see Karass' mother. (5/5 stars to the original, 4.5/5 on the director's cut upon coming to understand issues the new scenes cause to the story's pacing)
The Exorcist II - The Heretic: Well, first thing that should be mentioned is that this story has some obvious continuity issues with the later prequels. I'll explain those differences in my reviews for those films, but the mistake involves the boy who was possessed in Merrin's past, in Africa. In this movie, it's a young black boy, (though I forget his name off the top of my head.) which is different in the prequels. Also, the story itself was kind of sub-par as were the visuals. The Exorcist actually looked believable with realistic special effects, but this one is fairly laughable. (2/5 stars)
The Exorcist III: I had my doubts about renting this at first, especially since I heard it wasn't too good of a movie and especially after seeing The Heretic it didn't seem too appealing. However, I couldn't have been more wrong. The story continues what happens years after the original Exorcist in an often overlooked sequel. However, the movie does include some incredible shocks and excellent plot twists. The movie is graphic in a subtle way and usually, more often than not, verbally not visually when the killer is describing his killings. Also, the visual effects during this scene are amazing. It's hard to tell that the person who the killer is possessing's face is changing into that of the killer's. (4.5/5 stars)
The Exorcist - The Beginning: This movie is hard to critique, really. The story is actually fairly well done, though there are many differences between this movie and, not only the originals, but in the other version of the prequel, Dominion. Also, instead of the young black boy being possessed (though it DOES appear he is) it is the nurse instead and the very last scene is like a poor ripoff of the original movie's final scene. Also it should be noted that the movie is often times just a gruesome bloodfest, unlike the older movies which tended to go more along subtle violence in attempts to disturb the viewers. (3/5 Stars)
Dominion - Prequel to The Exorcist: This movie is a much better version of the other prequel. In story, at least. Yes, the visuals ARE rather lacking. However, this is simply due to a lack of Warner Brothers trying to make it look better. This was clearly the raw footage that wasn't even fixed up to look nice. However, there is much less violence, blood and gore, which is instead replaced by much more psychological themes that make the story perhaps even better than the original in it's own way. The person possessed in this film was a retarded man who was rejected by his home village. Also in this movie, Pazuzu looks much different and, in my opinion, much more ominous. (4/5 stars for poor visuals)
Final Word: If you like horror, or even if you're just an avid movie goer, this collection is a must, or at least the original and the second sequel. For other very well made horror movies, I recommend Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original one that was actually disturbing) and Rosemary's Baby, which also have a very Satan vs. God kind of theme.
**** 4.5 stars out of 5 ****
EDIT: Touched up some spelling and scores and would also like to point out, regarding my comment that The Heretic was rather laughable, it was actually laughed at during the premiere with the audience actually throwing stuff at the screen. So much for the as-of-then biggest production put out by Warner Brothers!