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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Exorcist 1973 Reviewed

Updated: May 13

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The Exorcist 1973 movie poster featuring a shadowy figure beneath a street lamp.

The year was 1973. Nixon was still president, gas prices were creeping up, and theaters were flooded with a different kind of darkness. Something ancient and hungry had seeped through a crack in the American psyche, summoned by the whispered incantations of a battered novel and a director possessed by his own dark vision. It was "The Exorcist," and the line between cinema and spiritual warfare had forever blurred.

The Exorcist 1973 Key Takeaways

  • The Unexplained is Terrifying: The film masterfully manipulates ambiguity and the unknown. We never get a full explanation for the possession, making it all the more unsettling. The question of whether this is a medical condition, psychological breakdown, or truly demonic forces leaves lingering chills.

  • Evil Can Corrupt the Innocent: Regan's transformation from a sweet child into a monstrous being is profoundly disturbing. The film highlights the vulnerability of innocence and how readily evil can twist and corrupt.

  • Faith Under Fire: The priests, symbols of faith, face doubt, despair, and even death. The film explores the crisis of belief when faced with overwhelming, seemingly inexplicable evil.

  • The Battle is Both External and Internal: "The Exorcist" shows evil as not just an external entity but also a struggle within. Father Karras grapples with his own inner darkness, guilt, and waning faith, mirroring the fight for Regan's soul.

  • Sacrifice and Selflessness: The exorcism demands tremendous sacrifice from both priests. Their willingness to confront ultimate evil, risking their lives and sanity, highlights themes of selflessness and the power of human spirit even in the darkest hour.

  • No Easy Answers: The film offers no simple solutions or feel-good endings. It raises profound questions about the nature of good and evil, whether salvation is possible, and the enduring presence of malevolent forces in the world.

  • The Price of Confronting Darkness: The toll on everyone involved is severe. The exorcism isn't just about saving Regan; it's a brutal confrontation with darkness that leaves lasting scars and trauma on those who witness it.

Woman terrified watching The Exorcist, 1973 horror classic.
Some movies stay with you long after the credits roll...

The Georgetown steps, steep and twisted, set the stage. Shadows dance beneath dim streetlights as a desperate mother stumbles into the unsettling quiet of night. It's not just the chill of D.C. that's seeping into her bones – a sense of nameless, gnawing dread is coiling around Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter Regan (Linda Blair).

At first, Regan's just an ordinary girl. Sweet, a little mischievous, her days painted in the soft pastels of childhood. But then the change begins. A flicker in the eyes, a voice that isn't hers snarls from the darkness. Furniture shifts, objects fly. It's not the tantrums of a troubled child, it's the first guttural growl of malevolence, scratching its way to the surface.

Doctors prod and poke, searching for a tumor or a twisted synapse in Regan's fragile frame, but medicine offers no cure. As Regan wastes away, her humanity peeling off layer by layer, Chris realizes that the fight isn't against science, but something far, far older.

"The Exorcist" was born from the twisted genius of William Friedkin, a director not afraid to plunge his audience into the yawning abyss. He wields his camera like a crucifix dipped in icy water, each frame a testament to a world tilting just slightly off its axis.

The unsettling soundtrack, a twisted symphony of discordant noises and guttural moans, burrows into your subconscious, leaving behind an echo of unease that follows you long after the credits roll. Friedkin's film doesn't just want to scare you, it wants to plant a seed of unease that sprouts tendrils of doubt long after the lights come back on.

Young boy horrified watching The Exorcist, 1973 horror movie
The things that go bump in the night just got a whole lot worse.

The Deep, Unsettling Power of "The Exorcist"

Friedkin found his demonic vessel in a young actress named Linda Blair. Blair's transformation from an innocent child into a snarling, profane force of nature is still a masterclass in horror. Her eyes, once bright with mischief, now burn with an unholy luminescence. The guttural voice that erupts from her is a sonic manifestation of spiritual violation.

Opposite Blair stands Max Von Sydow as Father Lankester Merrin. Weathered and haunted, he is a veteran of a spiritual war most refuse to acknowledge. In his eyes, there's a flicker of terror, but it's eclipsed by the grim resolve of a man facing the abyss for perhaps the last time. And Jason Miller as Father Karras offers a counterpoint of doubt; he's a man of science wrestling with the impossible, his faith a flickering candle in the relentless storm.

"The Exorcist" delivers scares in spades – the projectile vomit, the spider-walk, the head-turning that still gives chiropractors nightmares. But Friedkin's film transcends cheap thrills. This is a story about the insidious nature of evil, gnawing away at the foundations of faith, family, and the very concept of innocence.

Sure, the demon Pazuzu – ancient and foul – is the film's antagonist, but it's the battle for Regan's soul that is the true heart of the terror.

"The Exorcist" isn't just a horror movie; it's an experience seared into the cultural consciousness. It's a film that makes you question, squirm, and glance nervously over your shoulder, the unease lingering like a bruise. The true brilliance of the film lies in its refusal to provide easy answers. Did evil win? Was Regan saved? Is the fight ever truly over? These questions are what keep the film alive decades later, a testament to the enduring power of fear, faith, and the eternal battle against the shadows within and without.

And that was The Exorcist 1973 Reviewed. Another great classic horror movie

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If You Liked The Exorcist 1973 You Might Also Like These Films. 

  • The Omen (1976): This classic supernatural horror follows an American diplomat who unknowingly adopts the Antichrist as his own son. Chilling, atmospheric, and fueled by questions of destiny and prophecy, it's another exploration of evil corrupting innocence.

  • Rosemary's Baby (1968): A masterpiece of psychological horror directed by Roman Polanski. A young woman, pregnant with what might be the Devil's child, becomes trapped in a web of paranoia and a sinister conspiracy. This film explores themes of maternal fear and the blurring lines between reality and madness.

  • The Conjuring (2013): This modern horror hit, based on the cases of real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, follows a family plagued by a demonic presence in their new home. While less grotesque than "The Exorcist", it shares the focus on a malevolent entity and the struggle for a family's soul.

  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005): This film tells the allegedly true-life story of Emily Rose, a young girl believed to be demonically possessed. It blends demonic possession themes with courtroom drama, centering on the trial of the priest charged with her death after performing an exorcism.

  • Hereditary (2018): A chilling modern horror masterpiece, this film follows a family grappling with grief and a sinister legacy. While less directly about possession, it's deeply unsettling, showcasing the destruction of a family under the influence of an insidious evil.

The Exorcist 1973 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is "The Exorcist" about?

A: "The Exorcist" is a famous horror film that revolves around the demonic possession of a young girl named Regan and the Catholic priests who try to save her. At its core, it's a terrifying exploration of the battle between good and evil, the fragility of faith, and the horrifying lengths a mother will go to protect her child.

Q: Who is the author of the original novel "The Exorcist"?

A: The novel "The Exorcist" was written by William Peter Blatty. Interestingly, Blatty was inspired by a real-life exorcism case that occurred in Maryland in 1949.

Q: What are some special effects used in "The Exorcist"?

A: "The Exorcist" is known for its groundbreaking special effects, particularly in the exorcism scenes. Here are a few noteworthy examples:

  • Regan's Levitation: Achieved through a combination of hidden wires and carefully choreographed movements.

  • Violent Shaking Bed: Constructed on a rig that allowed for precise, yet chaotic motion.

  • Projectible Vomit: A mixture of pea soup and oatmeal created the infamous effect.

  • 360-degree head twist: Linda Blair wore a special prosthetic, and the scene was shot in reverse to achieve the unnatural effect.

Q: Is "The Exorcist" considered the scariest movie of all time?

A: "The Exorcist" is often hailed as one of the scariest and greatest horror films ever made. Its reputation stems from its disturbing content, chilling performances, and its ability to create a genuine sense of unease and terror that lingers long after the film ends.

Q: Who are some of the key characters in "The Exorcist"?

A: Some key characters in "The Exorcist" include:

  • Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair): The innocent 12-year-old girl who becomes possessed by a demonic entity.

  • Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn): Regan's fiercely protective mother, an actress.

  • Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller): A young priest struggling with his faith and his mother's death.

  • Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow): An experienced, veteran exorcist brought in to confront the demon.

  • Detective William Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb): The detective investigating strange occurrences tied to Regan's case.

Q: How did the public and critics initially react to "The Exorcist"?

A: "The Exorcist" received a mix of hysteria and acclaim upon its release. It was highly controversial, with reports of people fainting, vomiting, and leaving theaters in terror. However, many critics praised its terrifying narrative, shocking imagery, and thought-provoking exploration of faith and evil.

Q: What is the significance of the pea soup in "The Exorcist"?

A: The iconic scene of Regan vomiting pea soup in "The Exorcist" has become one of the most memorable moments in horror film history. It exemplifies the film's ability to shock and disgust, signifying the demon's utter defilement of Regan's innocent form.

Q: Why is "The Exorcist" still considered a classic in the horror genre?

A: "The Exorcist" has stood the test of time due to its chilling atmosphere, strong performances, unforgettable exorcism sequences, and its profound themes. It goes beyond cheap scares, posing uncomfortable questions about the nature of evil, the limits of faith, and the cost of confronting darkness.


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