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The Exorcist

27 Years later, it still scares the bejeesus out of you.

Warner Bros. Studios, realizing that they haven't been able to make a decent movie since the Reagan-Bush era, dipped into their vaults and re-released perhaps the scariest film of all time, The Exorcist.

What is the Exorcist, you ask? Well Mr. "I've lived all my life in a hole", allow me to elaborate.

A little girl is possessed by a demon and an Exorcist is brought in to save her.

There ya go.

Not content to just re-release the masterpiece, they have tinkered and added over eleven minutes of footage, and since we've all seen the original film, that's what you want to hear about.

Most of the added stuff is new dialogue. Strengthening character's motives, or reaffirming faith. Whatever. They also added the infamous 'spider-walk' scene that is sheer spine-tingling (and possibly back-breaking) joy. She walks down the stairs on her hands and feet, upside down like a spider. Pretty creepy.

Actually the entire movie is pretty creepy. And if you've never seen this film on the big screen, do yourself a favor and check it out. When all the comfy-coziness of watching the video or DVD in the safety of your own home is taken away and you're forced to see Regan vomit on a screen twenty feet high, it suddenly becomes a great deal more nerve-wracking than you might think.

Oh sure, some of the seventies dialogue and clothing and attitudes are a bit dated, but the overall effect is as strong as ever, and you will think twice before being mean to a little girl, because you never know when she's gonna be possessed.

Scholars have spent years trying to explain why this movie is so scary. And while I think it's because the actors were terrified of the director (there are stories of Director William Friedkin randomly firing guns on the set to startle the actors), most agree that it is because there seems to be no reason why this particular girl is chosen to be possessed. She's just a regular nice girl. And that's scary. Regular nice people get possessed, for no reason. And you could be next. Or your own little girl. Or your Uncle Harvey with the club foot. Or Sammy Sosa, which would just prove that the Cubs are forever cursed.

One of the true joys of watching this film is to watch Max von Sydow in action. This man's a stud of an actor, and if there's one person I want fighting Satan for me, it's Max. Three rounds with Brewmeister Smith will bring anyone to their knees!

It's also fun to watch little Linda Blair gyrate and regurgitate and other things that end in 'ate.' Thank Heaven for little girls who twist their heads completely around their bodies.

As you watch The Exorcist, watch its haunting beauty, its intelligent script, its fine performances, you can't help but wonder how Hollywood went from this to Urban Legends: Final Cut. Somewhere along the way, the idea of actually being scary seems to have gotten lost. Here's hoping somebody finds it again.

I'm giving The Exorcist: Special Edition (or whatever they're calling it) 4 Babylons. Should it get more? Yes, but I don't want to call too much attention to myself. You never know what'll set these demons off.

Editor's Note:

I talked to the SMC about possibly abandoning the "Babylon" scoring system when he reviews scary movies. I thought a scale indicating "How Often I Wet Myself" would be more appropriate.

the Exorcist
Rated: R
Directed By: William Friedkin
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Jason Miller, Linda Blair and Anderson's Split Pea Soup.

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