After years of seeing it on VHS, I've had the pleasure of seeing the 1974 classic "The Exorcist" on the big screen twice: once in 2000, and again in the last month. Both times marked a pleasurable, memorable theatrical experience, not only because I discover something new in William Friedkin's film each time I see it, but because it's fun to watch such a doubting audience succumb to its power.
The religious thriller ? as Friedkin and screenwriter William Peter Blatty insist it is is purposely paced to achieve a near-documentary feel. Therefore, combined with its dated haircuts and outfits, the movie elicited many scoffs, much laughter and even a few shouts of "This sucks!"
And then when sweet little Regan (Linda Blair) shows the first unmistakable signs of being possessed by the devil, those viewers shut the hell up, and went from being bored to being scared. Big-time.
What is it about this movie that continues to terrorize? Because it's expertly made, smartly written, shrewdly directed and so well-acted that you forget you're watching fiction. The effects you see are top-notch; the sound design and score eerily suggest evil is present, letting your mind run wild.
And with many releases of the film already available on DVD, its Blu-ray debut appears to be the definitive one, containing both the original theatrical release and 2000's controversial "Version You've Never Seen," complete with the spider-walk scene and subliminal faces. I can't choose between the two, because either is guaranteed to freak me out one way or another. As for A/V quality, I've never seen the movie look crisper.
This two-disc release comes with a new, 30-minute documentary (shown with last month's one-night-only multiplex engagement), but the feature-length "The Fear of God," ported over from a previous DVD pressing, is even better. Both discs come packaged within a full-color booklet offering more background on the film's legacy and production.
The power of Christ compels you to save your pennies for this one. ?Rod Lott