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The Exorcist Movie Review

Updated on October 22, 2012

The Exorcist Movie Review

The Exorcist is an award-winning 1973 horror movie directed by William Friedkin adapted from a novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty which was inspired by a 1949 true story of demonic possession of a 14 year-old boy in Mr. Ranier, Maryland. Instead, the possessed in the movie is a sweet and innocent 12 year-old girl named Regan who is gradually transformed from normalcy to a horrific twisted and blasphemous evil spirit who can levitate, spin her head around and spit green vomit at will. The visually-shocking images and dialogue during the exorcism scenes as two Catholic priests battle the demon in Regan will leave you pained, drained, and unnerved.

The Exorcist is touted as the scariest movie of all time yet without the fast-paced slashfest and gore of modern day horror flicks. What is it then about this American classic horror film "The Exorcist" that terrified and fascinated an international audience and withstood the test of time?

Photo Credit:Katz_42

William Blatty wrote the novel The Exorcist two decades after reading a Washington Post story about a 1949 exorcism when he was a student at Georgetown University.

It was in this house in St. Louis, Missouri that a harrowing exorcism was performed on a 14 year-old boy for two weeks to rid him of demonic possession. The two Jesuit priests who took part in the exorcism were Father Walter Halloran and Father William Bowdern who gave details of the rites to author Thomas B. Allen, who would record them in his 1993 novel, Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism. Allen would use a pseudonym of "Robbie" for the boy's name. The book describes some of the events that took place in this home. One passage goes like this: "Something now rippled on Robbie's right leg. As Bowdern again commanded the demon to identify himself, red welts formed an image on the leg. It was, the witnesses later said, an image of the Devil."

The true story that inspired William Blatty - The story behind the story

This is the 1949 exorcism that inspired William Blatty to write the novel and screenplay The Exorcist. Legend persists that a 14-year-old boy, given the pseudonym "Robbie Manheim," was possessed after attempting to contact his deceased aunt via a Ouija Board.


The book presents more than an account of diabolical possession. It is about faith, and the need for its strength during a time of hostile adversity.


The Ultimate Review

If you have not read the book or seen the movie, this review will prepare you for your worst nightmare.

Excellent review of The Exorcist - a must read

25th Anniversary version

The updated release of The Exorcist added the extra minutes and scenes deleted from the original movie. It included a longer focus on the psychiatric and medical tests that Regan was subjected to help determine her bizarre behavior and mental state. We feel the frustration of Chris McNeil (Ellen Burstyn) as the possessed girl's mother, when the doctors and psychiatrist suspect lesions on the brain when she knows that there is something more sinister going on with her daughter. Linda Blair, as the little girl, has obviously been put through an ordeal in this role, and puts us through one. Jason Miller, as the young Jesuit Fr. Karras is tortured, doubting, intelligent. The older priest, Fr. Merrin is an authority on exorcism and will keep us on our toes in the disturbing scenes as he battles the Devil who wants to kill the possessed Regan.

The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition)
The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition)

This is one of those classic films where EVERYTHING works: the writing, the directing, the acting, etc. The extras on the DVD are extensive and fascinating (you can tell both William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty cared about every second of this film). The spiderwalk scene which was deleted from the original movie was added after the cables suspending the contortionist were digitally erased by CGI experts. The soundtrack and sound effects were enhanced to add to the eerie and intense atmosphere of the entire movie.

The Exorcist will bring out your inner fear of the unknown, of the demon that can take over your body and who will try to destroy your very being.

This is more than just a horror film. It is about good versus evil, faith against hopelessness. The Exorcist will not disappoint.

Most horror movies will make you want to leave the lights on or look around the room a lot. Even in the most terrifying and frightful scenes, you will want to keep your eyes open because you would not want to miss anything.


The possessed girl is one of the scariest faces in movie history. It was makeup artist Dick Smith that created the terrifying and ghoulish face of the tormented Regan. The asymmetrical cuts, darkened eye sockets gave her unhuman eyes, done with contact lenses.

The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition) [Blu-ray]
The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition) [Blu-ray]

Controversial and popular from the moment it opened, The Exorcist marks its historic Blu-ray premiere in a 2-Disc Edition featuring Stunning Hi-Def Presentations of the Original 1973 Theatrical Version and the 2000 Extended Director's Cut. The frightening and realistic tale of an innocent girl inhabited by a terrifying entity, her mother's frantic resolve to save her and two priests--one doubt-ridden, the other a rock of faith--joined in battling ultimate evil always leaves viewers breathless. This greatest supernatural thriller of all time astonishes and unsettles like no other movie.


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Regan (Linda Blair) is the adolescent daughter of a movie actress Chris Mcneil (Ellen Burstyn) who is possessed by an ancient demon. This was after she finds a Ouija board game in the basement and made contact with somebody she identifies as Captain Howdy. Regan begins to act violently, speak in a demonic voice and hurling obcenities at her mother. After subjecting her daughter to harrowing psychiatric and medical procedures to determine Regan's mental state, Chris who is an atheist, calls in young priest and psychiatrist Fr. Damien Karras (Jason Miller) for help. Fr. Karras is convinced that the young girl is possessed by the Devil and they must call in an exorcist, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow).

Two priests are summoned to exorcise the demon

Fr. Merrin and Fr. Karras administer exorcism rites to cast out the devil from the possessed girl. The bed shakes and tilts violently as Regan writhes and contorts while the Devil mouths obcenities through the child. The process of casting the demon out of Regan's body soon begin to take a toll on the Jesuit priests.

This is the scariest scene from The Exorcist that scared the daylights out of every viewer. Regan (Linda Blair) sits on her bed, spews obscenities with a gravelly voice and spins her head around 360 degrees to the horror of audiences around the world. This self-mutilation with a crucifix with nauseating and horrendous special effects fo 360 degree head rotation, and the projectile spewing of the green puke was the most frightening.

How did she do that? - Animatronics was used to spin Regan's head

A spitting image of Regan was created with wires in its head which can be remotely controlled to move the eyes, mouth and head. Not only did the head spin around 360 degrees, but it has the creepiest smile on its face. Linda Blair had to be maintain her ghoulish looks in the exorcism scenes. Although it is obvious that the spinning head is a model, it is still unsettling to see it happen.

Regan defies gravity - The levitation scene

In this scene, Regan levitates and hovers above the bed, with her arms outstretched in the form of a cross. The two priests repeatedly chants "It's the power of Christ! The power of Christ compels you!" and sprinkle more holy water producing raw slashes on Regan's legs. She slowly sinks back down onto the bed. Fr. Karras binds her wrists and she retaliates by striking him with a powerful force from behind.

The green vomit projectile scene - One of the most memorable scenes - the pea soup effect

In this scene, the possessed Regan taunts Father Karras with a low gravelly voice and asks him about his mother, catches him off-guard, and then spews a vile green substance that smothers his face.

The wind king demon "Pazazu" makes his grand entrance

The forces of the demon are unleashed - a back-lit demonic Pazuzu statue appears behind the possessed Regan. Pazuzu. materializes and makes an appearance in Regan's bedroom during the exorcism rites.

Horror at it best

The 5 most horrific scenes from The Exorcist

The expulsion of the devil - Two priests die to save Regan

At the climax of the exorcism, Father Merrin keels over from heart failure and Father Damien Karras commands the demon to enter himself, which the devil does. The priest immediately flings himself out of Regan's bedroom window and falls to his death on the steep concrete steps below in order to stop the spirit from murdering Regan. Regan is restored to her normal self and does not have any recollection of any of the harrowing experiences.The film ends as the MacNeil mother and daughter return to Los Angeles to move on from their ordeal.

The Exorcist Curse

Read about the injuries and deaths during filming of the movie.

Critical Acclaim

The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including (in addition to the acting nominations for Jason Miller, Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn), Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Set Decoration, Best Sound, Best Art Direction and Best Picture. It won the awards for Best Sound and Best Screenplay.

It is the first horror film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.

The Exorcist:

The Complete Anthology

(The Exorcist/ The Exorcist- Unrated/ The Exorcist II:

The Heretic/ The Exorcist III/ The Exorcist:

The Beginning/ The Exorcist:


The Exorcist III


The Beginning

(Widescreen Edition)

Exorcist II:

The Heretic


The Exorcist

The Rite:

The Making of a Modern Exorcist

The Real Story Behind the Exorcist:

A Study of the Haunted Boy and Other True-Life Horror Legends from Around the Nation's Capital

An Exorcist Tells His Story

Hostage to the Devil:

The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans

The Haunted Boy

While filming a haunted asylum in St. Louis, Missouri, documentary filmmakers uncover a secret diary of the infamous 1949 exorcism involving a 13 year old boy possessed by the devil that later inspired the book and movie, The Exorcist. Utilizing hi-tech paranormal gadgetry along with a legion of supernatural experts they search out to capture the scariest entity known to man, The Unholy Ghost. Nothing you have ever seen or heard before gets you closer to the ungodly truth of what really happened in this most terrifying, best selling story of all time! This is the untold-real story of The Exorcist, a chronicle of true events based on the actual priest's secret diary the world was not to see, Until Now!

Purple Star Award

On August 24, 2011, this lens was bestowed a Purple Star Award. I wholeheartedly thank the lensmaster who nominated this lens to be worthy of this honor.

Did I spook you, my honorable guests? - I want to hear from you, pretty please.

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Creepy review lol for a creepy movie

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I would love to see this film on the big screen - I never have.

    • JoyfulReviewer profile image

      JoyfulReviewer 6 years ago

      The head-turning was especially creepy. Congratulations on your lens being included on the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" monsterboard!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Yes, consider me spooked! I saw this film in a theater when it was first released. I was in high school at the time. It scared the daylights out of me! I'd like to see it again.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I was a grown woman when I read the book and saw the movie, but that did not prevent me from being scared out of my wits! The presence of evil that permeated the story was difficult for me to erase from my mind, and I carried that spookiness with me for quite some time after reading the book...then had to go through it all over again when I saw the movie. But, as with all things strange and scary, I was fascinated enough to finish the book, and then to see the movie. There's no accounting for human nature! Great lens, and now I have to try to get over this again! LOL!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 6 years ago

      This article is just about as scary as the movie. In a good way. :) I remember my brother telling my parents that they must not let me and my sister see the film. Finally saw it a few years later. Congratulations on your purple star.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 6 years ago from USA

      Awesome review of the first and last movie to ever give me nightmares after viewing it the first time.