|By Mira Harber
Something's in the air, Halloween is coming and there are currently two
movies featuring 'The Devil' now showing in local theaters - The Exorcist
and Bedazzled. Scarier still - a third movie about the devil is
opening shortly - Adam Sandler playing the devil, now that is terrifying!!!
Exorcist was first released in 1973 and I can remember standing in
line, in the dead of winter, for almost two hours, waiting to see THE
movie event of the year. When it was first released, the Exorcist was the
first really scary movie of modern times. It predated all those Halloween
Seeing it again after all these years was interesting. Would it still be
really frightening? How would the special effects hold up after all these
years? Is the plot still interesting? The answer to these questions is
The basic plot is a story about a 12-year-old girl who is seemingly 'possessed.'
After all the tests are done, and all the doctors have been seen to no
avail, the last resort is an exorcism.
What exactly is an exorcism? It is a stylized ritual to drive out the invading
spirit. Exorcisms have kind of fallen out of fashion since the 1600s, and
there are very few done today. However, there is one living priest, played
by the incomparable Max von Sydow who has performed an exorcism. He is
assisted by a younger, very muscular priest who is himself suffering a
crisis of faith (Jason Miller). This version of the film is 11 minutes
longer than the original. The additional time consists mostly of metaphysical
discussions between the two priests concerning the nature of 'faith' and
the devil. After all these years I actually found this probably the most
interesting part of the film. What is faith? What is the nature of evil?
Special effects have improved enough since the movie was made that some
original footage to this version had been cut out. The infamous spider-walk,
backwards, down the stairs has been added. Previously you could see how
that effect was done, strings etc. but with today's technology, it now
provides a brief, but extremely creepy moment in the film.
The sound has been digitally re-mastered and it IS scary. It provides
a truly frightening underpinning to the film. Our sense of dread increases
gradually, gradually, but never stops until the end of the film. The excellent
use of sound was like another character in the film and it heightens the
raised hairs on the back of your neck feeling.
By today's standards, the film was slow to start. I think I've seen too
many action films, at first I was restless, waiting for something to happen.
It took a long time, but once an exorcism was called for and the exorcist
arrived, it was worth the wait.
If you haven't seen the
movie before, go and check it out. See what the first scary movie of modern
times was like, and what it was that so scared people almost 30 years ago.
If you have already seen it, you'll find the additions and improvements
add greatly to the film, and make it worthwhile seeing all these years