Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Exorcist (1973) Entered As Part Of The Horror Canon

I toyed with the idea of making the first entry into The Horror Canon a lesser known or less popular title, just to shake things up. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that the true horror classics were going to prove their belonging no matter what I tried to do. So, I just got out of the way and let the films speak for themselves. The first to stand up to the test...

Everybody has an opinion on this film. No matter if you love it or hate it, there's no denying the stamp this film has put on our culture. The Catholic Church has pronounced the actual film negative itself evil. Pea soup makes people think of only one thing. "The Power of Christ compels you!" has become a punchline. Everybody knows the reputation of the film, but do people realize that this is one of the scariest movies EVER?! Still today it is unsettling, uncomfortable, and exhausting to watch.

Directed by William Friedkin, and starring Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller, and of course Linda Blair, The Exorcist won 2 Oscars (Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium) and was nominated for 7 more. The script was written by William Peter Blatty, who adapted it from his own novel.

The film opens in Northern Iraq with some unsettling imagery, a palpable feeling of dread, and a creepy statue that we see again near the end of the film.

Throughout the film we have a great side story that comes into play later concerning Father Karras (Jason Miller) and his mother. The screen below is from Father Karras' dream. It's tense and leaves you with an eerie feeling.

Lt. Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) checks out the staircase where Burke met his demise. It's all at once ordinary, sinister, and foreboding.

This abomination in the church is one of the more tame acts witnessed by the audience. The level of offensive verbal and physical battery dished out by young Reagan is still harsh, even by today's standards.

The pea soup... It's what most people first mention when this film comes up in conversation. It's abrupt, unexpected, and shocking.

This iconic scene marks the beginning of one of cinema's most well known battles between Good and Evil. We see Father Merrin arrive by cab...

...and then we see The Devil waiting to meet him. Reagan truly looks like a monster all through the second part of this film. The voice makes things all the more awful.

As the confrontation crescendos, the creepy statue from the beginning of the film shows itself once again. It's almost over, but the price to be paid is steep.

The aftermath...

Two dead priests. Despite all the demonic taunting and uncomfortable imagery, the audience is finally given peace, but at the cost of two good men's lives.

People believe this film is evil. I believe that this film has the power to scare, and get people thinking about what they believe...

And with that I give you The Exorcist, officially canonized in the world of horror cinema.

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