The Exorcist (1973) is the sensational, shocking horror story about devil possession and the subsequent exorcism of the demonic spirits from a young, innocent girl (of a divorced family). The Exorcist was notable for being one of the biggest box-office successes (and one of the first ‘blockbusters’ in film history, predating Jaws (1975)), and surpassing The Godfather (1972) as the biggest money-maker of its time. And it remains one of the few horror films nominated for Best Picture. However, it was also one of the most opposed films for its controversial content. Roman Polanski’s successful Rosemary’s Baby (1968) played upon similar fears of devil possession. Originally X-rated, the film was released as an uncut ‘R’ rating which allowed minors to view the film if accompanied by an adult.
The film’s screenplay – a horror-tinged western (and tale of good vs. evil), was faithfully based upon author William Peter Blatty’s 1971 best-selling theological-horror novel of the same name. Academy-Award winning director William Friedkin (previously known for The French Connection (1971)) created a frightening, horror film masterpiece, with sensational, nauseating, horrendous special effects (360 degree head-rotation, self-mutilation/masturbation with a crucifix, the projectile spewing of green puke, a mixture of split-pea soup and oatmeal, etc.). The film also featured the terrific acting debut of 12-year-old actress Linda Blair, who played the helpless girl possessed by demons. The recognizable opening instrumental tune, titled Tubular Bells (by Mike Oldfield), eventually became a #1 single on the Billboard charts – and the first big seller for Virgin Records. The film’s poster described:
Something almost beyond comprehension is happening to a girl on this street, in this house, and a man has been sent for as a last resort. This man is The Exorcist… read more >