The Exorcist Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art and Menus: 10/10
Are you kidding me? How can I give that cover image anything other than a 10 out of 10? I mean, it’s one of the most imprinted images of my movie watching youth. Even though the image is only in the movie for about 5 seconds, it’s like the showdown is about to begin and it always gives me goosebumps. The menu is straight forward navigation with images from the movie, and really, do I care what it’s like? No, the movie is the heart of this tidy little Blu-Ray package.

Features: 10/10

  • Extended Directors Cut & Theatrical Cut – You get the chance to see both cuts of the movie as if you needed anything else to be afraid of in this life!! The director cut seems much longer and more substantial with the story development, when in fact it’s only 10 minutes more footage. So, I say watch the long cut and get the creepfest on!!
  • New 3 Part Documentary On The Movies Production & Legacy – Excellent. If you want to hear more, see more, know more about the making of this iconic flick, watch this documentary in full. It’s got interviews, behind the scenes footage, and lots of discussion about the whole process.
  • Commentary By Director William Friedkin – How can this be a bad thing? Watch the movie again while listening to the man who brought it to life in a way only he could have…not that he’s a very pleasurable man to listen to, but because he was the driving force behind the look and tone of the movie which is what makes it so good.
  • 2 Commentaries Theatrical Cut (William Friedkin/William Peter Blatty) – More commentary by Friedkin, and now you can hear the author of the book talk about the whole project as well and that’s really a pleasure.
  • Introduction By William Friedkin – Self explanitory.
  • Feature Length 1998 Documentary The Fear Of God The Making Of The Exorcist – If you don’t know much about how this movie was made, this is the extra for you. You get a backstage pass to the special effects, the history of the book, the madness of the public when the movie was released, it’s all here in late 90’s style.
  • Interview Gallery – Self explanitory.
  • Original Ending – There’s not much here to see I’m afraid, but it’s nice to have it back with the movie if you are a completist. I suppose the idea that the spirit of Father Carrass carrying on in a new priest (not literally but in theory) is a good one since we are pretty sure that that evil spirit/demon/devil is still out in the world to wreck havoc at some point in the future (i.e. Exorcist III).
  • Deluxe Blu-Ray Book Packaging – This is a nice addition for those of you (Ascully) who like the touchable, tangible bits and pieces they can include with movies. There is a nice book type thing with information about the movie, quotes, images, etc. It makes a substantial collector type thing for those who are interested…that’s not me.

The Movie: 10/10
There is no other. There is no other movie that does to me what The Exorcist has done to me for most of my life. I remember watching it on TV long ago, the very edited version of course, and being mesmerized. I was terrified at the thought that the devil could get inside you and make your head spin around. That was when I was about 12 years old. As I got older and watched it on video tape or on HBO I was again terrified, but more and more it became the fear of something so uncontrollable. That anyone is vulnerable to the evils of the universe, whatever that meant to me at the time. Now that I’m older and I don’t believe in things like Satan or spirits, or things that go bump in the night, it still scares the crap out of me. Why?

The reasons that The Exorcist crawls into the back of my mind and shakes me up so much are hard to describe. I think I have little or no fear in the tangible world. I don’t fear crime, death, pain, being broke, bumps in the night, or your general fear growing things the world throws at us. Fear might not be the right word, but as in The Exorcist, this little girl is possessed by something horrific, something unapologetic, no mercy, no accountability, nothing to constrain it’s love of suffering. This is, for me, the thing in life I fear. That people choose to do things that show no mercy, no apology, no care or concern for others’ suffereing. That’s real.

So, when the Devil brings the priest’s dead mother’s voice into the conversation he knows it’s the most painful thing he can throw at this guy. That’s what evil is, lack of empathy, lack of compassion, self indulgence that takes someone down the path of pure pain and destruction. Nevermind that this little girl is being mangled, ripped, torn, shredded, head spun around (how they think we don’t wonder how she lived through that, I’ll never understand:)) and this thing inside her relishes every minute of it. The only thing that holds it back is it’s own limitations. I still don’t understand why it doesn’t just possess everyone and take over the world, but I don’t know all the superpower religious unnatural rules so I just accept that this entity is limited by the body it has chosen and some boundries the universe and it’s God has chosen to put upon it.

I would talk more about the cast and the movie itself, but it’s all just right. There isn’t a cast member who isn’t perfect. The assistant to the mother is one of my favorites. She’s got to put up with all the crazy shit and still just hangs in there. She’s awesome. I guess, if I’m honest, the director guy really does get on my nerves, but he doesn’t last long (spoilers) so it’s OK. Father Carrass and the Exorcist dude (Max Von Sydow) make me want to invite them to a very deep and dark dinner conversation. The whole thing flows together for whatever reasons. This movie making stew just has the right balance, the right mood, and even though I do believe they suffered for this movie, it actually shows in ‘good’ ways.

If you said I have to choose a single moment that freaks me out the most from this movie I would have to say that everytime I watch and they get out the Ouigi board and the thing slips away from the mother, I get total chills down my spine. It’s subtle and almost unnoticable. It’s easy to blow over that little moment but for me it’s the most scary show of this thing’s power. If it can slid that thing across the board to show it fondness for the girl vs. the mother, or whatever it’s motivation is, and you know instantly it could just crush them all if it wanted to….well, it’s toying with them in a way that’s so insidious and scary to me. My heart is racing just thinking about that moment. The mother can’t accept in her rational brain that it really just happened so she sort of smooths over it and goes on, but I always know the shit is about to hit the fan and I’m settling in for the ride.

Hopefully that feeling will never go away, those first few minutes of the movie when I am nervous and questioning my own beliefs and wondering how just a film can taunt such emotions out of me like that deep unexplanable fear, the teeth clinching gut reactions to some of it, I love that a movie does that to me and I hope it always does. (FYI, 2 other movies do this kind of thing to me, Jaws and Close Enounters of the Third Kind)

Audio & Video: 9/10
The power of Christ compels me to give the Exorcist high praise. The Blu-Ray edition of this classic film is just about perfect in every respect. It’s got a crisp looking transfer that retains the film grain and makes this look like it is being projected off an original print. There are a couple of dark shots that look really noisy, but I assume the original print also looked like that.

A special mention must be made to the awesome sounding 5.1 soundtrack, They did something really special here by retaining the 70’s style sound but adding surround effects to heighten the horror of what is going on. In the extras the director mentions he heard things from the Blu-Ray that he had not heard ever before because of the clarity of the track.

The Exorcist is indeed my favorite scary flick EVER and this edition is about as complete as you could ever ask for. If you are a fan or have never seen the film and want to be scared shitless this Halloween season grab it NOW.

Value: 7/10
I understand this the THE complete version of this movie with all it’s goodies and the extended cut, however, I am obliged to my cheapness to say that they have made so much money off this movie through the years this edition should come in at around 15 bucks for anyone who is either a collector of all versions or for a newcomer to the Exorcist world. Come on people, it’s a money cow. You will make money, just give us a break!!

As for what you get, yes, this is the Exorcist for the ages. Tons of extras, the movie in both shapes and sizes, new old footage, interviews, it’s all here so even if you spend the full price at around $30 or so you are getting some quality movie lover fodder.

Overall Score 10/10