It’s October, the month of Halloween and what would be more clichéd than doing a countdown of top horror films, so fully admitting to being a walking cliché, I will be doing a series of blogs running down the films in my own personal top 20. Here’s the previous blogs for numbers 20, Audition, 19, Night of the Demon, 18, Zombie Flesh Eaters, 17, Last House on the Left, 16, The Beyond, 15, An American Werewolf in London, 14, [REC], 13, Don’t Look Now, 12, Event Horizon , 11, Cannibal Holocaust, 10, The Wicker Man, 9, Halloween, 8, The Blair Witch Project, 7, Hellraiser & 6, The Evil Dead series.
Now we get possessive with William Friedkin’s astonishing The Exorcist.
Do I really, honestly have to give a synopsis for a film that I’m sure everyone know beyond the jokes about pea soup? Of course not, as everyone reading this knows the basic plot of a young girl possessed by a demon and the exorcism that follows her possession. That essentially is the plot and it’s a good skeleton to hang a hell of a lot around it from discussions about faith, the reality of evil and even what is evil itself?
At the heart of the film are a number or extraordinary performances from the likes of Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn and of course, Linda Blair in a role which made her a name and single-handedly destroyed her career at the same time as she’s never done anything like this film ever again. That aside, she’s astonishing in this film.
The Exorcist is one of those films that’s legendary to people in the UK of a certain age as it was only released officially on video in 1999. so for most of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s if you wanted to see this film in this country you had to be lucky enough to live near a cinema that would show it, or, more commonly, own a dodgy VHS copy that was often so grainy that it was impossible to see what was going on.
I eventually got a great copy from a laserdisc around 1992 & for the first time as an adult saw the film in a way close enough to how it was meant to be seen, and a few years later I finally got to see it in a cinema for the first time. That was an interesting experience.
It’s a powerful, hard film that forces you to think, something a lot of films now don’t make you do. That’s why it’s such a bloody great film. You can go back again and again with each time you’ll find something new you’ve not noticed before. That’s a great thing for any work of art to do. Watch this film again and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Next time, everything gets red….