Movies 29 Oct 2007 04:45 am
#3 — The Exorcist As I come down the homestretch in my 31 Days of Halloween movie countdown, I have a confession to make (appropriate as Roman Catholicism plays such a big part in today’s movie): I’m a little OCD where “The Exorcist” is concerned.
I probably own about a dozen copies of William Peter Blatty’s original novel. For a while, every time I saw one in a used bookstore or at a yard sale, I picked it up, especially the paperback version with the ugly purple cover and the fuzzy photo of the demon-possessed little girl. I don’t know why I did it. It was like I was … possessed.
The book is riveting because it offers a well-researched, if fictionalized, version of an exorcism, complete with a look inside the red tape and bureaucracy of the church circa 1970. Blatty lets the reader decide if little Regan, the candidate for the ceremony to drive out demons, is truly possessed by the devil or the victim of psychosis.
The movie jettisons the ambiguity and goes for the gross-out. The exorcism scenes (the one pictured above is one of the tamer) are powerful, but maybe have lost their edge somewhat today because they have been parodied so frequently and become — like the Bates Motel and the shower scene from “Psycho” — common pop culture touchstones.
Max von Sydow is excellent as the elderly priest who has faced this particular demon before, and Jason Miller is great as a younger priest experiencing a crisis of faith. Linda Blair, of course, was forever typecast as young Regan Macneil, even appearing years later in an Exorcist parody called “Repossessed” with Leslie Nielsen.
Enough about “The Exorcist.” I have to rearrange all my copies by publication date, again and again and again …