The Exorcist BD
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb
Director: William Friedkin
Warner Brothers | 1973 | 132m and 122m | Rated R |
VC-1 | 1080p | 1.78:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
English SDH, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German SDH, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian SDH, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish
Two 50GB Blu-ray Discs
The Exorcist's iconic cover claims that it's the scariest film of all time, but the makers of the movie prefer to label it as a theological thriller. I tend to agree and have always considered The Silence of the Lambs, The Shining and Psycho as psychological thrillers rather than horror. I mention those three because they represent the best that 'horror' has to offer, whether you label them as such or not.
If you have read my other reviews, you'll know by now that I'm a movie snob. When I think of horror films, the first thing that comes to mind is excessive gore and cheesy lines. I'm simply not a fan of seeing bodies hacked to pieces and I don't find any value in cheesy horror stories. So bear that in mind if you are a fan of such movies as the Evil Dead (not that there's anything wrong with that).
Instead, I look at how films are made, what they make me feel, the quality of the acting and the methods used by the director. In those terms, The Exorcist deserves to be rated among the best 'horror' films ever made.
The film plays like a book with the three main sets of characters being shown individually before the threads are drawn together for the body of the story. The story begins with Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) heading an archeological expedition in Iraq. Father Karras (Jason Miller) is shown caring for his dying mother and we are shown how he lives. Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is shown being a mother to Regan (Linda Blair).
Regan is a pretty, playful 12-year-old girl without a care in the world. We see her demeanor gradually change as she's possessed by a demon. She seeks out her mother's bed because her own is shaking, but her mother thinks she's lying. There are noises in the attic which are thought to be rats as Chris tries to label them as something familiar. Regan's sweet nature gradually erodes and we see her lose her temper more and more frequently. She's eventually referred to doctors and shouts obscenities at them. Some of the tests she has to undergo would be frightening to a child, but everything comes back negative. A psychiatrist gets a turn and also fails to solve the problem. Denial is a powerful thing in this story as doctors continually try to rationalize the things they are seeing and hearing.
Chris is an atheist, but can see that the doctors are wrong. She eventually seeks out help from Father Karras, showing just how desperate she is to help her daughter. If you allow yourself to be drawn in to the story and consider how you would react if your own child underwent such changes, you'll feel the power of this film.
The climax of the film sees Father Karras and Father Merrin performing an exorcism after convincing the church that it was needed. Regan's transformation is impressive. When possessed, she talks in many different voices, some of which are known to the priests and the people around her. The demon is a master liar and seeks to confuse the priests and prevent the exorcism. Regan becomes a monster, reeling off obscenities and spewing foul green bile. Her face and body become covered in scars and it's hard to see anything of the original person.
In 1973, it was a real challenge to produce some of the effects seen in the film. Instead of CGI, everything had to be done by other means. Wires were used in two or three of the scenes were Regan levitates or runs down the stairs upside down. A model was made to enable the illusion that her head turns 360 degrees. The bile had to be made and then delivered using tubes. Although it's obvious that the spinning head is a model, it's still unsettling to see it happen.
Will you be scared by this movie? Visually, it's nothing compared to effects achieved by modern techniques. You might be scared if the story captures you sufficiently to make you feel that you're a part of it. Imagine yourself as Regan's parent for example. We can overlook the dated effects and take them seriously because everything else about this film is deadly serious. The acting is strong throughout, with the whole cast performing well. Friedkin tells the story simply, but effectively. The final solution is extreme, but convincing.
Like Psycho, this film was original and startling in its day. It has an important place in film history. It might not have a strong impact on people who are used to modern horror movies, but it's worth seeing for anyone who has avoided it thus far.
Video Quality 4/5:
This package includes two discs. One shows the original theatrical version (122m) and the other shows the extended version (132m). My comments refer to the extended version, although I would expect the quality to be identical in both versions.
The scenes in Iraq are bright and full of detail and the film would earn a 4.5 for picture quality if it were that good throughout. Unfortunately, much of the film is shot in dimly lit rooms and grain is dense in such scenes. All things considered, it's hard to imagine the image looking any better than it does though.
Audio Quality 4.5/5:
Friedkin mentions that the lossless audio enables him to hear effects that he had forgotten were in the film. It's certainly a strong presentation and the film benefits most of all from the audio upgrade. We can clearly hear Regan wheezing and the voices in outdoor scenes come across well in the rear speakers. Dialogue is always easy to understand and some of the louder scenes, such as furniture moving or glass breaking, carry added weight. The 6.1 version is included in the extended cut, while the original version has 5.1 audio.
Special Features 4.5/5:
There's plenty of background information included in the special features for anyone who is interested.
Raising Hell: Filming the Exorcist (30m, HD)
The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now (9m, HD)
Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of the Exorcist (10m, HD)
Trailers, TV Spots and Radio Spots
Director's Introduction (2m, SD)
The Fear of God (77m, SD)
Filmmaker Interviews (9m, SD)
Sketches and Storyboards (3m, SD)
Original Ending (2m, SD)
40-page booklet with pictures, cast details and background information
The Exorcist is an important part of cinematic history. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won two, and that's unusual for this genre. It's a beautifully presented package complete with a high quality booklet and separate discs for each version of the film. The audio upgrade is huge, making the experience a lot more intense. The visual upgrade is probably the best that could have been managed considering the dark setting and the director's original intentions. I would strongly recommend this definitive version for any fan of the film or of cinema in general.
on February 9, 2014
It was December 26, 1973 and I was 10 years old and an avid reader of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. I had heard that a very horrific movie was coming to my neighbourhood theatre and knowing that I would not be allowed into a restricted film I decided to sneak in. In the darkness of the theatre, I heard scraping sounds from an attic, watched as wide open windows rushed in cold air, saw the lights in a corridor flicker off and on and heard the convulsing and growling of a demon as it took over the body of a little girl about the same age as myself. This film was The Exorcist. It is now 40 years later and the scariest film ever made still gives me the same shivers it gave me years ago. Branded as satanic by the evangelist Billy Graham and banned for years in the United Kingdom, it was and is to this day the most shocking and obscene film ever made. So shocking that audiences walked out before the film ended, vomited in the aisles and fainted on the spot from fear and terror. The Exorcist is not only the scariest film ever made because it scares you but it will also make you question your own faith and spiritual beliefs and make you think more about the battle between good and evil. Somehow, I would like to think that the real premise of the film is that good does triumph over evil in the end but the film is so visceral, so powerful in its scope that the real premise should be left to the individual film viewer to interpret for themselves. Whatever your interpretation, there is no doubt that The Exorcist will make you confront your fears: its the kind of film that not only sends shivers down your spine but the kind of film that really gets under your skin. Like the possessed Regan played brillantly by Linda Blair, your head might spin around 360 degrees and you might say to yourself in an evil nightmarish voice: Little children shouldnt be sneaking into darkened movie theatres to watch these type of movies! As a kid growing up around horrible things, I am glad I did sneak into the movie theatre that day for it is not just about confronting the horrors around us like terrorism, war, disease and hunger but also confronting the real horror that is possible like the evil that can take possession of us at any time. That is the real horror we should be scared of. And even though we should be scared of the evil that lurks inside us and the possibility of eternal damnation: real, imagined or otherwise, like Faust we still have the freedom to choose between good and evil and exorcise our own demons by striving for the truth. Even if we have to sneak into darkened movie theatres to do so.
on April 1, 2004
Society's need for devils, demons, and the grand pooh-bah of them all - Lucifer - enables individuals to explain many terrible things in society. It might be a perverted sense of security. In The Exorcist a demonically possessed 12 year old child (...) is still spooking audiences twenty-five years after the film's release. Universally, it is regarded as one of the scariest cult classics.
It's an intriguing film, but unlike most viewers, it made me giggle at times. Flashes of a pasty-faced, red-lipped, sharp-teethed "demon" looked like a frustrated French mime bitten by a rabid racoon during an unsuccessful truffle hunt. The film challenged me to reflect on a more central question - suppose there is no Satan? Experiments on children at Auschwitz become less explainable without a Luciferian figure. Stalin's artificial famine in Ukraine where parents killed and ate their children becomes more horrific without the "comfort" of blaming supernatural evil.
Of course an absence of the devil runs contrary to my denomination's simplistic understanding of the black and white world. Yet take away Satan and life becomes more cold, complicated, and may seem pointless at times. In a real, tangible way life actually becomes "scary" without the crutch of Satan. It is less understandable. Shades of gray take over.
The cinematographic technique using darkness is brilliant. The music is haunting and there are several unsettling scenes in the film that are chilling - the child's bed levitates, she develops grotesque sores suggesting physical decay, speaks in a husky male voice challenging the exorcist-priests (Jason Miller and Max von Sydow) to sexually violate her, and the spewing of a green, soupy like substance from her mouth onto the holy knights come to battle the devil.
The film fittingly takes place in an enclave of Washington D.C. I couldn't resist asking myself whether the child was actually possessed by the negative energy of a long deceased Congressman who couldn't get back into the House Chamber to vote. I do believe that each individual life is a form of energy that can't be destroyed.
I'm not in disagreement that the child's body could house a misplaced negative energy. And I accept the widely held belief that ghosts, apparitions, and other energy sources live among us. In that sense, I didn't have to suspend my reality since I believe it. But are they evil?
Nor did I find the ability of the demon in The Exorcist to see into any soul unsettling. So what? I might be painfully embarrassed if it happened to me, but such disclosure would hardly merit condemnation for being a monster. This speaks more to our vanity grounded in human insecurity than our fear of the unknown.
Although I'm dismissive of this cult classic, it is understandable why the film continues to make so many viewers uneasy. I've personally met people who suffered nightmares because of it (maybe from eating a bad batch of pea soup the night before). Director William Friedkin masterfully balances the surreal with the real and plausible. Is the child actually possessed, or, as several doctors diagnosed, suffering from a severe chemical imbalance in the brain?
In exploring demonic possession Friedkin never goes over the top with the unbelievable. He walks a fine line between science and the many things in life that are unexplainable and seem at times supernatural. Although he does not want to offer a black and white answer, he does so by clearly leading in the direction that there are Satanic forces at work.
The film offers a plausible depiction of a parallel universe. It may have been stronger had Friedkin made the child possessed by a "demon" rather than Satan. Why would Satan try to take over the world by possessing an innocent child of an insignificant actress-mother? Using a generic energy source with a bad attitude makes more sense. Lucifer would better achieve his agenda of world control if he or a minion took possession of a Bible-thumping American president who appears deceptively presidential instead of a little girl with a sailor's trashy mouth.
on November 7, 2006
Having seen the original release in 1973 (I was 15 years old at that time) in a huge movie theatre, nothing has scared me more. There were police vehicles parked outside the theatre which was indicative of the grip the movie had on some of the theatre goers.
If you cannot get the 25th anniversary version, then buy this one which has the best video/audio quality and contains a few new nasty surpises.
on February 5, 2015
Arguably the scariest movie of all time, and in my opinion, one of the best. Demonic possession is a hard topic to tackle without becoming silly or going for the cheap thrill. This film does not do that. It's genuinely horrific and very well done. Fabulous script, acting, cast, effects, sound and so on. Probably why it was nominated for so many Oscars, winning 2, and rightfully so. Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow, Kitty Winn and Lee J. Cobb are pitch perfect in their roles, as is the voice of Mercedes McCambridge.
I've heard the stories of people fainting in the theatres when this was released, I was very young so I missed it but believe it probably caused quite a stir. This is not a film for children or anyone sensitive.
This bluray book release is great. The packaging is neat with with all of the photos and additional information. The directors' cut, which is my preference, is fantastic! The theatrical release is a gem. You can't go wrong here. The sound and picture has never been better. Fully recommend this!
Even 41 years after it first hit theaters, a lot of people still consider The Exorcist to be the scariest film ever made.
Directed by William Friedkin who before this won an Oscar for the cop film, The French Connection and written by Willam Peter Blatty who won an Oscar for writing the excellent screenplay The Exorcist based on his book.
A mother is told by doctors that her daughter’s sudden erratic behavior may be because… she’s possessed by a demon, which is not something you want to hear from a doctor, typically.
This is a classic horror film and the first horror film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Because apart from being so frightening and disturbing, it’s a superbly crafted movie.
The performances from the cast are just fantastic. Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNiel, the tormented mother is so good. Her helplessness and panic as she sees her daughter crumble mentally and physically is so believable.
“That thing upstairs is not my daughter.”
Jason Miller plays Father Damien Karras, a priest, counsellor and psychiatrist who’s called upon to look at Chris’ daughter. It’s a great, subtle performance. When the movie starts, he’s shaken by the death of his mother and is worried he may have lost his faith in God.
But of course the best performance in the film is by Linda Blair who plays Regan, the possessed girl. As the movie progresses, she starts saying and doing some insane things. Things you don’t see child actors do very often.
Towards the end of the film, Regan is fully possessed by this demon and her voice changes. The voice of this demon is actress Mercedes McCambridge and her vocal performance is so chilling, as is the make-up effects by Dick Smith that I often forget I’m watching a 12-year old actress onscreen.
It’s such an amazing performance, especially when Regan is taunting Karras when they first meet.
“What an excellent day for an exorcism.”
The combination of the voice, the make-up and Linda Blair’s performance all add up to making Regan one of the best film villains ever.
The screenplay and acting are great, but it’s the look and feel of this movie that make it so haunting. A lot of handheld camerawork adds a certain sense of reality to the more terrifying scenes in the film.
Regan’s final stage of possession turns her bedroom into a refrigerator, the visible breaths from the actors and the lighting make it a place where every time someone opens that door, you know something horrible is going to happen.
One more thing that keeps you on edge is the editing. There’s a lot of very quick cuts in the middle of scenes to what might be the actual demon inside of Regan. This pale-faced monster with large teeth, just the sight of this thing for a moment makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, which is clearly the intention.
Such a grim film, the closest thing to comic relief is a personal favorite character of mine. A homicide detective played by Lee J. Cobb, investigating a murder possibly linked to Regan. He happens to be a big movie buff.
A huge hit when it first came out, I imagine audiences hadn’t seen anything like it back in 1973. And 4 decades later it still packs a hell of a punch.
The Exorcist is one of the all-time great horror films that even in 2014 will still give you nightmares.
on June 5, 2013
I saw this movie at a young age & was immediately intrigued, I began doing all sorts of research about exorcisms. I've seen the entire Exorcist series & in my opinion, the first one is the best.
The BluRay Disc: It's fantastic that they finally released both versions of the movie on BluRay all in one package, I'm even happier that I waited to buy it so I was able to get this edition. The quality is great, the sound, the picture, everything is awesome. Any true fan of "The Exorcist" should have this in their collection.
Special Features: They're really good, this is one of the few movies that I've actually watched features for. I loved seeing the Behind the Scenes footage with Linda Blair, also, the interviews with the cast, director & writer are very well done.
Overall: I'm so glad they finally put everything altogether in one great collectors edition! The package is great, the quality is awesome. I found the cheapest price to be on Amazon, I had done some research before buying it, I'm grateful I bought it right away because the price has skyrocketed! If I remember correctly, I paid $15 for this BluRay Special Edition & now it's $60 some places I've seen - yikes!
on March 31, 2006
The all-time classic tale of demonic possession, based on William Peter Blatty's bestselling novel. Linda Blair is Regan MacNeil, a twelve-year-old girl who becomes manifested by a truly malevolent spirit. Her mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), an agnostic, seeks out help from a young Jesuit psychiatrist, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller, God rest his Irish soul!)who has demons of his own, and is tormented by the recent death of his mother, and his loss in the faith that he sought refuge in. After confronting the demon within the girl (and himself), Karras, although skeptical of demonic possession, is given permission by the church to assist during the exorcism. The priest selected to perform the ritual is a mysterious, elderly Jesuit, Father Lankaster Merrin (Max Von Sydow) who has seen such devilish work before. As the two clergymen face off against the demon, a police detective, Lt. William F. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) finds some links connecting the girl with a puzzling death and desecration in the local Catholic church.
William Friedkin brilliantly directed, and Blatty adapted the screenplay (receiving an Oscar for his efforts) and produced. The cast gives extraordinary, sensitive performances (Burstyn, Miller and Blair were all nominated for Academy Awards) and the special effects are breathtaking and still pack a punch, with veteran actress Mercedes McCambridge providing the voice of the evil entity. (The film also won for Best Achievement In Sound). The underlying theme of much of Blatty's work is evident, his philosophy being, if there's all this evil out there, why is there so much good? Metaphorically, everyone fights there own demons, and even in his last self-sacrificing moment, Karras finds his faith again and heroically gives his life to save this innocent child. How more meaningful can it be? A truly terrifying, engrossing and ultimately touching film dealing with faith and human frailty.
on October 8, 2004
I have seen this movie the first time it came out at the theatres. I stood in line outside in the freezing cold for one hour wondering what all the hype was about. My brother and three other friends finally get into the theatre. The movie starts. The first squence is in Iraq and I'm still thinking so what. Then we are transported to Georgetown. Ellen Burstyn hears a noise in the attic and now I'm thinking the movie is getting interesting. The first time William Friedkin shows us the one second clip of the demon I knew this was no ordinary movie. When I left the theatre on that cold winter night I was not the same for a very long time. When I went to bed I would check under the bed and sleep with the blanket over my head. This movie effected me like no other movie has to this day. William Friedkin is a genius. This movie should have won more Oscars then it did (2 awards for sound and screenplay) but at that time the institution didn't give major awards to horror. It does now ie. Silence of the Lambs, another great movie. I can't believe I bought this dvd after 30 yrs. I have watched this movie a dozen times and always find something new that I overlooked. One of my favourite squence is the one in Iraq, if you get a chance listen to the director's comments on the people he encounters in this country. Another scene that I overlooked was when Burstyn walks home alone and we get to hear that unforgettable music with the nuns' garments flowing in the wind. That is film making at it's best. The movies doesn't scare me as before but I still get a kick from it and yes I still jump when I hear that phone ring (watch the movie and you'll see what I mean).
on June 10, 2004
Many people rank 1973's "The Exorcist" right up there as one of the "best", the "scariest", and the most "disturbing" motion pictures of all time. And rightly so, in my opinion. All of these adjectives do indeed apply to this landmark horror film.
"The Exorcist" started scaring the living daylights out of movie-goers when it premiered in U.S. theaters on Wednesday, December 26, 1973. It's a movie that possesses that magic combination of elements to "unsettle" almost anyone watching it. I imagine even those who think they are "immune" to being scared by simply "a movie" find themselves getting a shiver or two during some of the classic and well-remembered scenes that are in this film.
In my view, some of the most chill-inducing scenes in the movie are BEFORE Regan becomes fully "possessed" by evil forces. E.g.: There's a scene in which Regan's mother (played by the fabulous actress Ellen Burstyn) enters Regan's frigid bedroom and tucks her daughter in. The camera stares directly into Regan's sleeping face as Miss Burstyn leaves the room. Then we see that Regan wasn't asleep at all, as her eyes suddenly open and she peers directly at us (the camera). An eerie scene to be sure, as we begin to wonder what forces are lurking within this cute, innocent little girl.
It's that always-disquieting element of the "unknown" that makes this movie so powerful and nail-bitingly suspenseful. First-time viewers just don't know what to expect next, which is certain to make them squirm in their seats even more.
The part of "Regan MacNeil" was performed flawlessly by Linda Blair (her third movie role). Linda, who played a 12-year-old in the film, was actually 13 (and later 14) during the course of the long 204-day shooting period. When the film finally opened in theaters the day after Christmas 1973, it was less than a month shy of Linda's 15th birthday. But, as things turned out, the protracted and grueling production schedule was more than worth it -- considering the outstanding final results on screen.
Director William Friedkin did a masterful job of unfolding the plot in a natural and well-paced manner. It doesn't in any way feel "rushed". Everything about this production seems "right" -- from the excellent cast, to the atmosphere created within the MacNeil house (which is downright bone-chilling once you get into that bedroom), to the "Georgetown" setting. It's all just perfect.
This review is for the "25th Anniversary Special Edition Widescreen Boxed Set" (VHS Edition), which includes a great package of neat stuff. In addition to a nice-looking Widescreen (1.85:1) version of "The Exorcist", this deluxe set also includes the following collectible items:
>> A terrific 52-page full-sized book (softcover) entitled "The Exorcist: The Making Of A Classic Motion Picture". The photo of Regan on Page 2 (opposite the Table of Contents) is enough to give you the creeps right off the bat. Many other high-quality photographs are included in the book, mixed in with the intriguing text, text which gives the reader an outstanding insight into the movie's creation and filming. This is one of the best "Making Of" books you'll ever run across.
>> A Soundtrack CD. (Unfortunately, however, the film's main theme, "Tubular Bells", is not included on this Compact Disc. Very curious indeed. I can't help but scratch my head regarding this odd omission.)
>> A set of 8 "Lobby Cards" (with "#1" being my favorite; they're numbered [1 to 8] at the very bottom of each card, along the white border).
>> A "Senitype Film Frame" (and an enlargement), featuring a classic image from the movie.
All of these items are housed in a very sturdy two-sectioned collector's box (with inner tray and matching slipcase). Overall, a very handsome set.
This "Limited Edition" deluxe boxed set (which was originally released in 1998, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the movie) also was produced in a DVD version. That anamorphically-enhanced Widescreen DVD variant offers up (naturally) a better-quality picture than the video on the VHS version. However, the VHS isn't too bad either, format limitations considered. The VHS audio is presented in Dolby Surround Stereo.
The VHS version runs for approximately 177 minutes, with the film itself lasting 122 minutes. The cut of the movie on this VHS tape is the "original theatrical cut", as opposed to the longer, 132-minute "Version You've Never Seen". The 55 minutes of bonus material consists of: 3 Original Theatrical Trailers for "The Exorcist", an "introduction" by Director William Friedkin, plus a behind-the-scenes documentary, "The Fear Of God: The Making Of The Exorcist". This is a top-notch featurette that is well worth seeing, which includes the likes of cast and crew interviews, screen test footage, and some outtakes not previously seen. All of the extra features are shown before the movie on the VHS tape version.
Warner Home Video allows us to bring the terror of "The Exorcist" right into our homes via this attractive deluxe boxed set. This is a most worthy addition to any horror-film library.