WHO NEEDS “THE EXORCIST” – BLAIR OR BLATTY?

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Ron Wells (filmthreat.com), Bruce Kirkland (Toronto Sun), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Larry Terenzi (mrshowbiz.com), Michæl Wilmington (Chicago Tribune), Thomas Carder (capalert.com) and Rob Blackwelder (splicedonline.com).
* * out of 4 stars
Most movie critics consider “The Exorcist” to be a horror classic and they are right. Though they say this film is good, the sentiment among Christians in 1973 was that this movie was anti-God. Who’s right?
“The Exorcist: The Version You’ve never Seen,” a re-release of the 1973 original, is about 12 year-old Regan (Linda Blair), an innocent young girl who plays with a Ouija Board and becomes possessed by the Devil. Catholic priests come to the rescue and battle the dark powers that harbor Regan’s soul. The updated version has new scenes and special effects.
Ron Wells (filmthreat.com) says, “The only question that really needs to be answered is, ‘Is the movie really any better?’ I’d have to say ‘Yes.’ It’s a slightly different animal now. It’s a little longer and a little more concerned with story.”
This film seems so long, Ron, that it needed an exorcist to exorcise boring scenes – let alone add more! The initial tedium is annoying. I remember sitting in the theater, for God knows how long, thinking to myself, “Will someone please get possessed!”
The beginning scene in Iraq is worthless (the Ouija Board was sufficient to conjure up Satan). Detective Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) is a useless character that does nothing except try to find a friend to go to the theater with him. But nobody wants to go. He’s boring as hell! What’s worse is they add an extra scene with him in the ending. It’s a joke.
Bruce Kirkland (Toronto Sun) said, “Even the never-before-seen spider walk — Blair’s character descends the stairs upside down, her face smeared with blood, her mouth screaming obscenities with Mercedes McCambridge’s demonic voice — is just a joke image now.”
The hell! If there was one moment in that film that caught me off guard, it was that spider scene. My wife and I both felt that “tingling” feeling on the back of our necks like in the movie “Sixth Sense.” It was creepy! I thought the new digital sound worked at times, but was mostly distracting because of the mono switching back and forth. Regardless, this new update is a marketing gimmick.
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) said, “If I were showing ‘The Exorcist’ to a friend, I would show the 1973 version without the slightest hesitation. I hope Warner Bros. doesn’t suppress it in favor of this marketing ploy.” Despite some bad additions, we do learn why Satan may be attacking Regan.
Larry Terenzi (mrshowbiz.com) said, “But the most illuminating addition is a discussion between the despairing Karras [a priest], who asks why, and the dauntless Merrin [the other priest], who answers, ‘It is to make us reject the possibility that God could love us.’ It’s a genuine moment that, despite all else, strengthens the spiritual foundation of the film.”
Michæl Wilmington (Chicago Tribune) said, “How odd it now seems that one of the most ferociously pro-Catholic films of its era should have been attacked as anti-Catholic.” Pro-Catholic? The writer (William Blatty) portrayed God’s power as weak against Satan – and the priests even end up dead. Satan had more power than any written biblical account. What possessed Blatty to write the story this way? Could it be, oh, I don’t know – SATAN!
Thomas Carder (capalert.com) said that if Jesus can cast out demons “with a simple command like ‘Go’, He can certainly handle Satan like a toy.”
The film showed some of the sickest scenes ever, which offended many people. But have we forgotten that Satan is evil? If any film in history was able to portray a demon-possessed person, it’s “The Exorcist.” However, I think a depiction of a little possessed girl masturbating with a crucifix went beyond cinematic taste.
Rob Blackwelder (splicedonline.com) summed the movie up best: “Because its story of a 12-year-old girl (Linda Blair) possessed by the devil quarries so deeply in the viewer’s psyche, it remains more frightening than any teenage slasher flick (save, perhaps, the original “Halloween”) — even if it has become every-so-slightly campy with age.”
I came home from “The Exorcist” and read reviews late into the night. I sat at my computer and felt that “tingling” feeling on the back of my neck again. I somehow freaked myself out. The film has its scary parts, but the aftermath is even creepier.
“The Exorcist” is not the best film in history nor does it make you necessarily question God. But it may make you question the power of God. But like most films based on real stories, the writer has obviously twisted things.
–CRITIC DOCTOR




Posted on October 31, 2000 in Features by
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