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Plot: A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy. Runtime: 122 mins Release Date: 31 Dec 1972
In late 1973 and early 1974, women and men were lined up for blocks. People were known to become ill watching it. Some fainted. Some ran out of the theater in tears. There were reports of people having to be institutionalized, and at least one miscarriage was attributed to viewing it. No, it wasn't a Rolling Stones Concert. It was a film called The Exorcist.The first time I had heard of something called The Exorcist was on late night television when the author, William Peter Blatty, was a guest on The Tonight Show. The conversation centered around how horrible some of the things in the <more>
book were. I had also seen the novel listed on The New York Times Bestseller List, and it seemed as if it would remain there forever. After having been on the waiting list for what seemed like an eternity at the local library, I was finally able to obtain a copy. It was the first book I had read in one sitting since probably Nancy Drew and The Hidden Staircase quite a few years earlier. And yes, for it's time it was filled with gut wrenching details of what happens when for some unexplained reason; an innocent girl is possessed by Satan. While reading the book I was sure that if it ever made its way to film, most of the details would certainly be either `cleaned up' or omitted altogether. As you know the film was made and it spared the movie going public absolutely nothing in the way of details.Certainly many of the people who lined up to see The Exorcist did so to watch some of the more gruesome scenes, the worst of which involved Regan's masturbation with a crucifix. Yet, the hysteria went well beyond the fact that such scenes were so vividly depicted. I think one needs to look no further than Mel Gibson's The Passion to find the answer as to why. I'm sure most of you have read the story of people leaving Mel's film in tears, some to the point of being hysterical. From most articles I have read, it seems that the majority of the audience that was moved were those people of strong religious beliefs. For many others, the depiction of the brutality in The Passion may have been uncomfortable to sit through, but weren't emotionally effected to any degree. Much of this same feeling can explain the hysteria surrounding The Exorcist. Those who had a definitive belief in Heaven and Hell, of Good and Evil, of Jesus as The Savior and Satan as the epitome of pure evil were affected by The Exorcist far more than those who were agnostic or just never had a strong belief in spiritual matters. There is no doubt though that much in the way The Passion did, The Exorcist caused many to reconsider how they felt about their faith. The Exorcist made the prospect of Satan being alive and well and a life of eternal damnation a very uncomfortable prospect. The fact that Blatty claims his book and screenplay were based on a true story seemed to give the film even more credibility.For me, The Exorcist has always been more about the never ending conflict between pure evil and pure innocence than about being an average horror story. There are many more levels to this film than what initially meets the eye. There is no doubt that while the main story revolves around an innocent young girl, Regan McNeil Linda Blair , being inhabited by Satan himself, Blatty enhances it greatly by adding different characters in various stages of conflict. Regan's mother, Chris McNeil Ellen Burstyn obviously cares deeply for her daughter. Yet she is not beyond reproach. In one scene when Reagan's father hasn't called on Regan's birthday, we see her desperately on the phone doing battle with an overseas operator. The problem is not how vicious the phone call is, but that she does it within ear shot of her daughter as if to drive the point home to Regan how worthless her father is. When, she finally does seek the aid of Father Damian Karras, we don't feel that she believes in exorcism anymore than he does, but is desperate enough to accept the fact that it is possible and will take any and all measures to save her daughter.Father Karras Jason Miller is a priest torn by conflict. He is ridden by overwhelming guilt for having abandoned his mother to enter the priesthood. He is torn spiritually by the confessions of those priests who seek his help as a psychiatrist, so much so that he now questions his own faith. When he states to the Bishop that `Regan's case meets all the criteria,' we know that even more than Chris, he doesn't really believe in the power of Satan to inhabit a living being in the manner that it has taken over Regan. Yet, he will do what is required of him as a priest concerned about the health of a child.Jack McGowran gives a terrific performance as the alcoholic director filming Chris's latest film in Georgetown. Kitty Winn is Sharon Spencer, the secretary who works for Chris and always seems to be in the line of fire when Chris is angry. She is always there but for all the horror she witnesses, Winn appears too bland and emotionless and her performance is probably the weakest in the film.Max Von Sydow as Father Lancester Merrin is a no nonsense aging priest. He has done battle with evil before and he shows us its effect in every scene he occupies. One could pass it off to being just good make-up but it is so much more than that as Sydow demonstrates all the nuances that brings to life a man who has faced Satan and lived to tell about it. He knows what he is up against, understands he must do it again and the consequences of what that battle may be.If I have a small complaint with The Exorcist it is in regards to the character of Lt. Kinderman Lee J. Cobb . I have never been able to buy into the character. It is not the fault of Cobb who is his usual stalwart self in the role. The whole character should at best have only been necessary for a few brief scenes yet; he has several that go on way too long and do not add anything to the story. Even in his scenes with Chris or Damian, Kinderman is so odd that he distracts us too much from their characters and it is Chris and Damian's reactions that are more important to us, not his investigation. For all you trivia buffs out there, Blatty once sued the producers of Columbo, stating they based Peter Falk's character on Kinderman. If memory serves me correctly Blatty lost that one.As for Director William Friedken, although he won the best director award for The French Connection, for me The Exorcist will always remain his defining film. The Final half hour of The Exorcist are still as dynamic today as they were 31 years ago, French Connection car chase be damned.It seems that to many of the younger movie audiences of today, The Exorcist has become more of a joke than anything else. That's not surprising considering how many times it has been lampooned, even by Linda Blair herself in Repossessed. Yet, if they were to view the film in a more serious vein, not as just another creature feature, they may just find that there really is more to this film than a little girl spewing pea soup and spinning her head around 360 degrees. It is the ultimate battle between Heaven and Hell and Good and Evil. It is the story of the complete and total degradation of innocence. It is a study in character, and whether a man torn by the forces surrounding him, can regain his faith and his belief in God and mankind to save the life of a little girl, caught up in forces beyond her control.Call it a horror film, call it a religious film, call it what you want. For me, The Exorcist is and will always remain a classic in every sense of the word. And if I regard you as a classic of any kind I have no choice but to leave you with my grade, which for The Exorcist is an A.
Many people complain that this movie's too slow but those are the kind of folks who only like 80-minute splatter films with characters so dumb and one-sided, you pray for the bad guy to kill them. This monster of a drama is both beautiful and bold. It has CHARACTERS and not simply LAMEBRAINS lined up for slaughter. It has class and purpose. It takes the audience into the darkest recesses of humankind and then brings them back through a message of hope and self-sacrifice. The movie is NOT anti-religion, it's anti-evil. Anyone who likes smart, clever, meaningful horror-drama should see <more>
this film at least twice. It is surprisingly touching and amazingly powerful.That said, the cast deserves a hand for their wonderful performances. Ellen Burstyn perfectly conveys the tension of a mother of the cusp of tragedy; Max von Sydow is hauntingly perfect as the story's ray of light; Jason Miller embodies the sadness of a defeated man; and Linda Blair is far above average even at her young age.Once again, see this movie. You won't forget it.
There is a reason for the hysteria and mystique surrounding THE EXORCIST. And it's called genius.Never have I seen a film matched in shock, terror, writing, or performances. This isn't a horror movie. The film itself is both a moving and terrifying drama that takes a realistic look at what would actually happen if a young girl were possessed in modern America. William Peter Blatty's script is amazing, bringing depth to the characters, and presenting the mystery of faith that they all deal with. Is Regan possessed? Is she insane? And most importantly, Is there a God? In the course <more>
of two hours, we see a sweet and innocent young girl become a cross masturbating, head spinning, murderous, creature. We see a successful actress overcome skepticism to save her daughter, and we see a brilliant psychiatrist struggle with his devotion to God as a priest.Friedkin's direction is marvelous, with wonderful uses of light, dark, and color throughout the film. Jason Miller as Damien Karras is beautifully subtle in his first film acting role. Max Von Sydow and Lee J. Cobb provide engaging supporting performances as the experienced priest who senses his impending doom, and a detective who senses something sinister is at work. Ellen Burstyn gives a brutally honest performance as a grief stricken woman trying to save her daughter. And most of all, a 12-year-old Linda Blair gives one of the most terrifying, convincing, and beautiful performances ever shown on film. Her range of emotion and connection to Regan are astonishing. She deserved that Oscar!THE EXORCIST presents to us the mystery of faith in it's most raw form--the battle of good and evil. It is an incomparable masterpiece of film, done without the aid of computers and special effects. It relies on story and performances to give us a marvelous and terrifying piece of work. In the end, it makes us ask ourselves what we believe, and keeps us wondering and shuddering at exactally what might be out there.
There's a lot of anxiety that goes into viewing The Exorcist, "the scariest movie ever made", for the very first time. And with that anxiety comes a lot of expectations and preconceived ideas about what The Exorcist *should* be. Especially for someone born after the film. Then on top of that waited years before finally seeing it.I love the Exorcist, and after exposure to God knows how many horror films, the Exorcist remains my favorite within the genre. And even from a die-hard fan I have to admit, I hate hearing "scariest movie of all time" associated with this <more>
movie.First of all, there's no reason to compare fright factor of films, so forget that anyone ever called The Exorcist "the scariest movie ever made." Take any movie I don't care what movie and stick a "greatest/scariest/best" whatever tag next to it, and you'll have audiences investing in what they *think* it should be instead of letting the film present itself for what it is. And all they see is that it is not what they expected expectations, I might add, that are shaped by the current gimmicks and trends in Hollywood .I love the Exorcist because it dared to defy my expectations. This is not a wall-to-wall, credits-to-credits montage of scary imagery inspired by a mere scenario that's supposed to pass as a plot. This isn't a movie about that long dark corridor and something waiting to jump out of the darkness and attack which is always preceded by a false scare featuring a cat . It's not about that cheap gimmicky scenario of X amount of people isolated from the rest of the world, with a killer/monster/ghost/whatever on the loose.The Exorcist is a very slow movie that actually features a full blown plot, its characters, and their associated arcs. The original ambition of The Exorcist was to scare the world with imagery and concepts never before seen in cinema. Shocking moments that the audience of 1973 could not believe they would ever see on the silver screen from a major studio, no less. After 30 years, the movie isn't so shocking because times have changed, and the success of the Exorcist has guaranteed countless imitation in all forms across all boards. However, the Exorcist is still one of the most ambition horror films ever made, because are you ready for this? the Exorcist dares to tell a story.Everyone remembers the pea soup, the head spinning, the vulgarities spewed from the demon's mouth, the stairs, the infamous cut now restored spider walk. But I adore this movie for the things no one seems to bring up I love the setup in Iraq where Father Lancaster Merrin detects the signs of his final showdown, and how these abstract scenes on subsequent viewings give the movie a more epic feel. I love the transition from Chris MacNeil to Father Karras walking across campus that's reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. I became absorbed watching Father Karras caring for his aging mother and the close relationship they have, seeing him depressed and sharing a drink with a fellow priest as he discusses his own issues with faith.And what impresses me most about a movie named the Exorcist is how it seems to reject the possibility of possession and exorcism as its ultimate and final solution. The characters in the movie don't want it to be true, and in fact don't really even know about the possibility of Exorcism, thus they explore and exhaust all other possibilities both medical and psychological . I smiled with delight after all the hospital scenes in that priceless moment when Chris MacNeil asks Karras, "And how does one go about getting an exorcism?" which stops father Karras in his tracks as he, a man of the church, looks at her as though she's lost her mind.The fact that the movie resists the temptation to jump right into the acknowledgment that Regan is possessed continues to build up the epic Good versus Evil, God versus Satan, the exorcist versus the demon, feel. Like the characters, the movie doesn't want it to be true, it doesn't want to go there and embrace that possibility, but we the audience know what must inevitably happen. And it's almost magical how the movie finally acknowledges Regan's only hope. There's no glorious fanfare nor is there boastful ultimatums, instead the movie lamentingly and silently surrenders to it as we watch Lancaster Merrin walking up the sunny garden path, staring down at a newly delivered envelope. He doesn't have to read it. He already knows what it says, as do we.The imagery then fades to an ominous foggy night as a taxi pulls up to the MacNeil place in Georgetown, then we're treated to the haunting imagery that inspired the cover art. What must be done, must be done. I love how the movie implies that Merrin has faced this very demon before through its imagery, and through the dialogue as Karras explains he's identified at least three manifestations to which Merrin answers, "No. There is only one." I can address more the acting, the beautiful cinematography, brilliant makeup but I'll stop to keep from sounding like a raving fan who over hypes every inch of everything. I'll close with these thoughts: I'm not the type of person who will watch the same movie over and over and over. Most movies I see, the specific imagery and specific ideas don't make a deep enough impression to stick with me for more than a few months. I remember the Exorcist, not because I thought it was the "scariest movie ever made", rather because of the wonderful craftsmanship, the fact that it dared to tell a story, and it defied my expectations.When Friday the 13th, the Grudge, Skeleton Key, and Cursed are reduced to vague memories and general ideas, I will still clearly remember the Exorcist.
One Genre Renewal movie: The Exorcist - Horror with no Crime, instead Horror with Spirits (by CihanVercan)
Two terrible sequels and one irrelevant remake were never replaced with the original, the 1973 version of The Exorcist; and no other version will never be any more. Written for the screen and produced by William Peter Blatty, both The Exorcist movie and the novel are incident driven basis of the actual happenings from 1949.Looking at the most remarkable movies of 1973, there are 3 other important ones that the history of cinema will remember: -- A slow and touching movie from Ingmar Bergman "Cries and Whispers" -- Bernardo Bertolucci's depressive movie, a study of love <more>
"Last Tango in Paris" -- A crime story with Redford and Newman "The Sting". Among all and all the other movies that are produced in this year, The Exorcist stands one step further than the rest for its uniqueness on genre renewal. It's not the first movie that features the Demon in its content, yet in the Exorcist the Demon is introduced in the human level. The idea of being possessed by a spirit is used for the first time ever on the silver-screen. Horror genre featuring spirits didn't need to refer to Crime any more like it used to be in Hitchcock ages. Thus crime became a separate genre, and mostly acted conjointly with thrillers from now on.This uniqueness profits from its sound mixing, great lighting techniques and of course a perfect screenplay. Director William Friedkin was lucky to find his producer Blatty, being also the novel-writer and the idea creator. The plot and the story development goes very smoothly: From Father Merrin's encountering with the Demon Pazuzu in Iraq; to Ellen Burstyn looking for the cure for her daughter's disease, going for visits to every type of doctor... From the noises in the attic, to Regan's peeing on the rug... From decoding the Demon's speech of speaking English in reverse, to the arriving of Merrin... Both the editing and directing gave high qualities to this film.The 25th Anniversary edition DVD is in my movie collections. It's a must to have for horror fans. Either you have this version of DVD or the year 2000 version; you should check out the special features that reveals the real-life 1949 incident, the missing and the deleted scenes including the Spider-walk scene, sound mixing and sound effects tests show how they created the demon's voice and the BBC documentary: The Fear of God, all in the special features.
Still Shocking After All These Years (by ccthemovieman-1)
Few movies shocked people like this one when it came out. Almost 35 years later, it will still shock you if you've never seen it. It's definitely recommended, but beware of some very gross scenes, brutal language and a sordid and genuinely frightening story. The special effects still hold up. They don't look dated and they are just as creepy. The story starts a bit slowly, but once in kicks in, it's tough to put this DVD on pause. This is still an intense, repulsive and scary movie filled with memorable scenes as a demon takes control over a young girl's body.Two things <more>
bothered me in the film that probably don't upset most people: way too much usage of the Lord's name in vain - almost all by the girl's mother, played by Ellen Burstyn. The second - and I am not Catholic - is the pitiful portrayal of yet-another Hollwood weak priest. This priest is smokes, drinks, swears, steals, etc.. etc, and is a pitiful excuse for a cleric: just the kind filmmakers love to portray. One priest - get this - says his idea of heaven is to be a nightclub performer for eternity and have everyone like him. Obviously, people who makes films have NO clue about "religion." Not a single clue. But, this was '70: the most irreverent film-making period in our history, so it's no surprise.However - to its credit - the film does an excellent job of convincing even the most ardent atheist that demons do exist, that there really is a devil, and that he is not to be taken lightly. It's no joke, and the shock value of this film might have gotten some people to start thinking there is something to all this "spiritual stuff."Whatever your theology, or lack of it, this movie is one you will never forget. It is beyond anything seen before it or since. I recommend the DVD that advertises this as "The Exorist: The version you've never seen." That's the best and most complete version of this terrifying film.
Still a powerful film, more than thirty years on... (by stephenneale67)
More than thirty years on, The Exorcist remains a very powerful film and was a cinematographic milestone in 1973. Repeated duplication of the genre has, no doubt, 'desensitized' a new generation of movie-watchers, though it remains an unnerving masterpiece. It is not difficult to understand why the film generated such a seismic global impact all those years ago, since it imposed an unprecedented sensory attack on the viewer. Regan's vile physical appearance, combined with her vile language and blasphemous diatribe sent a shock wave around the world. Moreover, many people seemed to <more>
believe the claims that the film was based on a true story and could therefore actually happen to them. Electricity consumption must have soared for several months in 1973 as people who had seen the film slept with their lights on! It is still not a film I would feel comfortable watching before going to bed. On another level, I found parts of it profoundly moving and actually cried at the end when Regan was finally released from her possessor and wept in the arms of her mother and Father Damien, having lunged himself through a window and down a precipitous flight of steps, managed to find just enough life in himself to indicate that he had retained his faith and repented of his sins by motioning his fingers in the sign of penitence when comforted by a distraught colleague. Possibly the only thing that lets the film down if one really sits and thinks about it is the underpinning concept that an ancient demon which had existed since the dawn of time should wish to possess the body of a twelve year old child and emit a string of juvenile profanities. But then the film was designed to shock all along!
Suspense , mystery , shocks and grisly horror is this classic terror film (by ma-cortes)
This known story concerns about a mother Ellen Burstyn and her daughter Linda Blair , the latter is possessed and two Fathers , Karras Jason Miller and Merrin Max Von Sidow attempt to free Regan MacNeil from possession by the devil . Meanwhile , a Police Inspector Lee J. Cobb is investigating the weird events . And the priests suffering incredible risks trying to unravel mystery of demon living inside Regan .This is a fairly suspenseful and horrifying story, based on a supposedly true flick . The movie begins well and grows more and more until the scary and eerie finale . Top-notch <more>
picture, thanks to fine acting , tight pacing , well mounted edition and skillful special effects with magnificent make-up by Dick Smith . Creepy acting by Linda Blair , due to death threats against Linda Blair from religious zealots who believed the film "glorified Satan", Warner Bros had bodyguards protecting her for six months after the film's release . On the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Linda Blair's delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max Von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines . The script is awesome , the acting excellent and the direction by William Friedkin plenty of good pace and conviction . Enjoyable secondary cast such as Lee J Cobb , Kitty Winn and Jack McGowran who died at the time finished the movie and added a legend about Exorcist's curse . Dark cinematography in sinister and mysterious atmosphere by Owen Roitzman and frightening musical score adding Mike Oldfield's soundtrack ¨Tubular bells¨ . The tale is rated ¨R¨ for graphic violence and profanity but contains gore and guts . Reiussed in 2000 by means of a special edition by director with ten minutes approximately additional footage with new amazing scenes as Regan downing stairs .Followed by two sequels and numerous imitations , in 1977 ¨the Heretic¨ by John Borman with Richard Burton , deemed awful and in 1990 titled ¨The Exorcist III¨ by William Peter Blatty with George C Scott, Brad Dourif , Ed Flanders and Nicol Williamson . Furthermore, spawned two prequels starred by a young Father Merrin , Stellan Skarsgard , and set in Africa , both of them directed by Paul Schrader and Renny Harlin .
This is a very highly rated horror movie for a good reason, when it was realised it broke the mould of everything that preceded it, and set the standard for the horror genre for decades to come; because of this it should retain its place Movie history forever.The sheer terror this movie instilled in people, during the year of its release is even today unmatched by anything. Time, however has altered its effect on its audience, we simply are not as easily shocked as we used to be.For anyone who hasn't seen this movie yet, my advice is this, approach it with an open mind, and remember when <more>
it was made, this is the only way you will appreciate it for what it is.Difficult for new audiences to appreciate, but it is still a classic, time won't change that.8/10