This review is for BOTH the Theatrical Cut and Extended Director’s Cut.
I remember over 20yrs ago when I first heard of The Exorcist. It had garnered such a reputation, particularly because of the ‘crucifixion scene’, which I’ll admit is still shocking. I knew one day I’d have to watch it. Well when I did it was as shocking as folks said. It was a movie that lived up to the urban legend type hype that surrounded it, and that’s before the extended cut ever came out too.
Over 40 years later and this movie still holds that power. The power to grab you and show you the face of real evil. William. Friedkin filmed the exorcism scenes in an almost documentary style fashion, which just helped cement its realism. A young Linda Blair cast as the possessed Regan is a revelation, and I don’t think she’s ever been better. It’s sad that she never capitalised on her role in this movie, and instead fell into VHS hell from which she would never really recover. Max Von Sydow still looks the same as he did in the movie over four decades ago, which is a testament to the fantastic make-up effects from the late, great Dick Smith.
The horror generated during the movie feels real. Whether you believe in God or the Devil is not important, as what’s on show is always done in a way that never feels unbelievable. It feels like something that could happen should you fool around with a Ouija board. The final third of the movie, as a possessed Regan torments Father Karras played by Jason Miller is chilling. The insults spewed forth by Regan / Captain Howdy are vile, and really show in highlighting the inner guilt and turmoil that plague Father Karras. It is stellar acting on all fronts.
An interesting bit trivia became known to me whilst delving into the history of The Exorcist. A few years after making the movie, William Friedkin made ‘Cruising’ starring Al Pacino. The plot of that movie is about an undercover cop investigating a series of grisly murders amongst members of the gay community that frequent leather bars. Well, as it happened the real life killer responsible for the murders had been apprehended. What William Friedkin found out when researching for ‘Cruising’ was that the real killer had actually played a small part in The Exorcist as one of the X-ray technicians at the hospital Regan attends. So it looks like real evil was in that movie after all.
Wow. I mean…seriously. This movie looks like it was made yesterday. It is so crisp. Everything is spot on, deep blacks, vibrant colours (green puke) and no visible DNR or grain. It’s displayed in 1080p HD with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1.
There are Dolby 5.1 options available in English, French and Spanish. There are also mono options available in French and Spanish but not English. The sound is great. I was using a Sony soundbar and I had the volume sat at around 20 which was actually probably too loud.
Sadly the supplements are quite few. There are only two featurettes on the bonus disc supplied, both lasting a combined 50 mins. There is a booklet included which contains excerpts from William Friedkin’s memoirs, but the version I have is in Japanese. You will be happy to know however that the discs in this 40th anniversary are the same internationally.
Bottom line is that this is still an impressive release, but with the sparse extras letting it down slightly at the final hurdle.
– Jonathan McEvoy