The Reviewing God Named Vern looks at the EXORCIST: The Version You’ve Never Seen Before!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with a look at THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION YOU’VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE that has opened up in over 600 screens across the country…. Now, some of you good folks are concerned that it will never play in your little neck of the woods… Well, this rerelease is being handled in a ‘platform’ manner. What this means is this… between now and the middle of October, you will see THE EXORCIST open on more and more screens nationwide… the word has it, that it’ll be on around 2000 screens when all is said and done. Meanwhile, the reports I’m getting from this release thus far is that all nighttime screenings in San Diego have already sold out (according to ‘surfbrat’) I just got back in Austin from the World Premiere of this version… Which is actually a bit different than the test marketed film that played in Austin. But more on that later… Here’s Vern… now be really afraid… he’s scary…


Dear Harry and friends. Last night I went to a promotional screening of the big movie for this coming weekend. Now it is not often that ol’ Vern is allowed to see a picture before its official release, so I decided to throw you boys a review and see if it sticks. I hope you are willing and able to share it with all your fine readers.

Now, alot of motherfuckers are familiar with the 1973 William Friedkin directed Catholicsploitation picture known as THE EXORCIST. But are you familiar with THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?

The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen BeforeWell, yeah, I guess you are, if you have TV or know how to read. But as for you illiterates and hippies out there, here is my review of the picture. By the way if you are an illiterate please have somebody read this to you out loud otherwise it’s not gonna make any fucking sense, just a bunch of Xs and Os as far as you’re concerned. And if you’re a hippie please stop wearing the patchouli, that shit reeks in my opinion. Just my two cents.

Now to The Exorcist. What this is, is a special new theatrical type version of the original picture. They took some of the good parts out, added a bunch of new parts, spruced up the soundtrack and all that type of garbage. Same deal they did with the star warses back in about ’95 or ’97 or who knows when. The special editions.

What the twist is here, is that this is not called a special edition. Nor is it an anniversary edition, because who the fuck wants to see the 17th anniversary edition of The Exorcist. Also it is not a director’s cut, because why in fuck’s name would William Friedkin want to brag about directing a version that is not necessarily any better or worse than the original. Instead it is called The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen Before, because I guess maybe the title department over at Warner Brothers is on strike or something I don’t really know how to explain it. Maybe ask harry knowles about that one he has the inside scoop on alot of stuff.

If you’re not familiar with The Exorcist let me tell you what it is about. You see there is a big time archaeological dig going down in Iraq. Meanwhile back in the states there is this famous actress who is filming a movie in washington dc. And you can imagine where it goes from there. There is an exorcist who comes in, for example.

Well maybe I am not explaining it that well but here’s the point. Alot of individuals seem to think that this is one of the scariest movies of all time. In fact back in 1973 when it came out, in the Version You Have Seen Several Times At Least, there were individuals screaming their lungs out and fainting in the theater left and right. People had never seen a horror film like this before, one with big production values and slick direction and acting, but also a little girl ramming a crucifix into herself and saying nasty shit that would make a motherfucker like me blush. America wasn’t prepared for that, but they sure enjoyed it. The shock scenes are still pretty effective today so you can imagine what it was like back then. I will never forget the first time I saw The Exorcist at the historic Cinerama theater in Seattle Washington. As the story unfolded, you could feel the audience winding up like a spring, getting tenser and tenser. When Reagan’s head spun around, there were!
so many gasps and shrieks you could feel the walls shake. When the movie ended, no one moved a muscle. Everyone sat still and silent for the entire credits. I had never seen a whole audience stay until the end of the credits. Then when the lights went on it was still silent, you could hear a pin drop. I got up and I realized that every single person in the theater besides me had fainted. They were all unconscious, so I went around and checked a few pockets, and back then popcorn didn’t cost so damn much so that score went a long way at the snack bar.

Well okay, that story may be exaggerated a little bit, I can’t remember for sure I have had some rough times since then so, you know, sometimes when you’re remembering something, you start to change things around a little, as far as — well, the whole story is bullshit. But here’s my point. Only Catholics think this movie is really that scary. But it is pretty good.

Anyway there are alot of reasons to go see The Exorcist The Version You’ve Never Seen Before. If you are a big fan of the original you will have fun loudly pointing out to the other people in the theater which parts you think are new. One hint: be careful in the Iraq section, boys. Alot of people seem to think that is new but I don’t think so. Every time I watch it at home I think, “That’s right, I forgot this part was this long.”

The main addition that people will be talking about is one having to do with Reagan coming down the stairs. This was included on the documentary on the dvd but it has been all computered up here in a very effective way that you will enjoy. I mean I don’t want to guarantee it or anything but unless you hate quality, yes I think you will like this added scene. There are also a few “scary” frames digitally added into the picture, little scary faces and statues and what not. This is basically overkill but I liked it anyway. One of the most famous things about the movie is the “subliminal” creepy images that go by real fast. Alot of morons think these are subliminal, but if they really were then you wouldn’t notice them. That is the whole point of subliminal, pal. I got news for you. I saw it. You saw it. We all saw it. It is not subliminal. It’s just editing.

Still it is fun because people can pretend they are the only ones who noticed it. I am willing to bet that you will hear someone in the theater say out loud, “Did you see that?” or “Look!” It is a similar phenomenon to when they had the 3-D michael jackson picture over there in disneyland. The little fuzzy butterfly man flies up and since it’s in 3-D, it’s like he flies right directly up to you and looks in your face. And then every jackass in the theater turns to his buddy and says, “It just flew right up directly in front of me and looked in my face!”

There are other newly added scenes that are not as horror oriented but are interesting to see, including an earlier visit to the doctor. But this kind of screws with the picture a little bit, because now I really have no clue why they bring Reagan to the hospital. It’s like one minute she’s this bubbly little girl, next minute they think she has brain damage.

I think there were bits cut out, too. I gotta be honest, I am not some freako who watches the movie every day and has it memorized. So I don’t know for sure which parts were changed. But I am pretty sure these individuals shortened what was previously the creepiest scene in the movie. I remember the cat scan scene being some real nightmarish shit. It puts you in the point of view of Reagan sitting inside this alien machine going cha chung cha chung cha chung and you’re thinking holy jesus, get me out of here. That’s the way I remember it anyway, but now it is very short and less unpleasant. I think this is a mistake because, to me, horror movies are supposed to be scary. In my opinion. So the creepy parts should be left in. Remember that next time Friedkin. This is your last warning.

Anyway, whatever good or bad they may have done with all this fiddling and shenanigans, there is only one difference to this new version that really matters. And that is that you can see it in a theater, on the big screen. Or “silver screen” as I like to call it. Because in the old days there was a different kind of screen, it was more expensive than what they use in the multiplexes, but it actually had a certain amount of silver in the surface, and this was a more reflective type of surface that works much better especially for 3-D films and what not, well it is a long story but anyway point is I call it the silver screen. On the silver screen it is a very different experience to see the movie because it’s not only big, not only loud, not only with good sound. But also with an audience.

Seeing it with an audience really changed the whole tone of the movie for me. Not really in a good way, but in an interesting way. You see, now everybody laughs whenever Reagan says something really obscene. Which takes away some of the creepiness. Also, there are alot of comments in the movie about ritalin, and to the audience I saw the movie with, that was the funniest thing they ever saw. Ha ha ha. Har har har. It was the ’70s it was a more innocent time, get over it people jesus. Anyway to me, watching the movie alone is a more solemn experience. With a theater you are able to laugh at the absurdity of some of the situations they set up, like the doctors using every bit of science to explain away what we in the audience know is supernatural (well, catholic).

Also if you are a straight guy who is hard up for some affection, I recommend bringing a young catholic girl to the picture. This is a good opportunity for her to grab onto your arm real tight, or what not. I heard some people who were getting a little too upset by the movie. They were laughing at the dated parts and trying to be above it but you could tell they were just trying to talk themselves out of pissing their pants. Because they kept saying shit like, “Stupid doctors! It’s not a lesion!” and “What is he doing? HE’S GETTING TOO CLOSE!”

Anyway if it’s a movie you like, this is a worthwhile experience, at least to a true film enjoyer such as myself, harry, moriarty, or you. Motherfuckers like us, we know the deal. It is like sometimes you want to see shakespeare straight up, sometimes you want to see it on motorcycles (Titus). Sometimes you want the exorcist to be scary as all fuck, sometimes you want it to be a fun time at the movies.

So if you are ready for the halloween season to officially begin, you might want to go see this one on friday. I mean you could do worse, in my opinion. for example, Repossessed starring Linda Blair, Leslie Nielson and Jesse the Body Ventura. It is not very funny or scary, don’t rent it. Also this Carrie Anne Moss picture red planet which has an ad at the beginning of exorcist. From the looks if it it’s not gonna be pretty. I don’t know about you guys but I don’t trust that robot. Just call it a hunch man I think the robot is gonna figure in pretty big in that one there.

thanks guys.


Originally posted at Ain’t-It-Cool-News: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/7009

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This entry was posted on Saturday, September 23rd, 2000 at 7:42 am and is filed under AICN, Horror, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

31 Responses to “The Reviewing God Named Vern looks at the EXORCIST: The Version You’ve Never Seen Before!!!”

  1. I love reading the talkbacks on these old reviews to see all the condescending Newsies giving Vern some real earnest advice on how he needs to change his style if he wants to have any success in the reviewing game.

  2. Well I managed to avoid watching this movie for 40 years of my life and deciding to finally watch it, albeit while stoned. Pro tip: Don’t do that. I don’t care about “it’s not scary anymore!” “it’s tame by today’s standards!” “it’s unintentionally funny!”. Fuck that. This movie is a nightmare, pure and simple – the rare big Hollywood movie that feels dangerous and nasty, like you’re watching something you shouldn’t be watching, but also classy and Oscar-worthy. I don’t get why people don’t speak of William Friedkin in the same breath as Hooper, Craven, Carpenter – this is a directorial tour de force that also brings to mind De Palma and Spielberg – there’s mind-blowing, confident filmatism here – combined with an incredible script, performances, sound design, makeup – my God, this whole movie is like evil lightning in a bottle. It’s not fun like Poltergeist, it doesn’t have an enjoyable mega-star performance at the center of it like The Shining. It’s in a league all its own and I hope no other movie ever joins it. I can’t even imagine what it must have been like watching this in a theater in the 70s – I can fully believe stories of people fainting in the aisles because I almost wanted to turn this off in my own house.

    Random notes:
    1) How the hell did Linda Blair NOT win Best Supporting Actress? This is a jaw-dropping performance. I’ve literally never seen clips of her out of the makeup, so imagine my surprise at how good she is in the opening moments when she’s still a normal girl! And btw, i thought Carrie Henn’s performance in Aliens was the benchmark for “this is great but i’m kinda worried you traumatised this kid”. Blair takes that to the 10000th degree – I literally do not know what her parents were thinking or how she was able to live a normal life after this (maybe she didn’t – the fact that Blair and Miller didn’t really go on to bigger things kinda adds to the mystique of the movie)

    2) Speaking of which, the bad mojo surrounding this movie (Burstyn getting hurt during filming, weird accidents, the serial killer in real life playing the doctor, etc…) just makes it more disturbing. I’m a grown-ass man and I was scared as fuck after it was over- made worse by the fact that my TV turned itself off after the credits and I couldn’t turn it back on again.

    3) I kinda like how the film is structured like a Rocky movie – it’s mostly a slow-burn with an emphasis on character development and flashes of excitement – things escalate and build brilliantly, all leading up to the final 20 minute showdown. The exorcism scene is long and methodically paced, almost in real-time, almost filmed like a stage play. The ending/solution kinda comes out of nowhere but it’s still powerful and satsifying.

    4) Weirdly the scene I can’t get out of my head is when Burstyn comes in to close the open window – you only see Regan sleeping face down, and you have no idea what’s going on and of course expect her to pop up at any moment for a jump scare. When you find out later she had just thrown a guy out the window- i don’t know, something about it sent chills up my spine.

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to finishing this damn franchise now; I hear there’s quite a few stinkers in there which will hopefully help me get over this awful feeling I’ve been having since I saw this movie. Never has a movie this good bothered me so much.

  3. In terms of Linda Blair’s Oscar: If I remember right during the campaign it came out that her posessed voice was done by another uncredited actress, which definitely hurt her chances, no matter how brillant the physical part of her performance was.

    And no, she wasn’t really able to live a normal life after that. Until, and tbh this is a fun plot twist, she starred in the Leslie Nielsen parody REPOSESSED, which according to her, really helped her to deal with some of the shit that stuck with her from THE EXORCIST and was one of the best professional experiences of her life. (Carrie Henn however was fine and she said one that the worst thing about the whole experience is when her friends keep quoting the movie at the most random times. (Like: “Hey, wanna go out and have pizza tonight?” “They mostly come at night and have pizza. Mostly.”)

    Can’t wait till you get to part 3, which is definitely the 2nd best of the series, although it was more supposed to be a spin-off and was then turned into a sequel by the studio (by putting a subplot about an exorcist into the movie and have him exorcise someone at the end.)

  4. This is not a hot take but my genuine experience: I still think it’s mostly boring, but all of the demon’s lines are comedy gold.

    For my money, the third one is the more entertaining, scary, and interesting movie. Don’t fall for that director’s cut stuff. It’s great that it has more Brad Dourif but it’s a film with no ending. The theatrical version is choppy and muddled but at least it goes somewhere.

  5. How great is THE EXORCIST? I watched the theatrical edition on Blu-Ray a few years back and then IMMEDIATELY got my hands on the extended edition and then watched THAT. There’s so many mysterious little details that I feel like every time I see it I find something new and fascinating.

    I also don’t think it’s possible to overstate what an enormous cultural phenomenon it was at the time. It was the highest-grossing horror movie in history for decades. Says wikipedia: “After several reissues, the film eventually grossed $232,671,011 in North America,[66] which if adjusted for inflation, would be the ninth highest-grossing film of all time and the top-grossing R-rated film of all time. To date, it has a total gross of $441,071,011 worldwide. Adjusted to 2014 prices, The Exorcist has grossed $1.794 billion.”

    It was also the first ever horror film in history to be nominated for Best Picture, and remained the only one until (and I had forgotten this) the fuckin SIXTH SENSE was nominated in 1999.* It absolutely took America by storm. I don’t think there’s another horror movie in history that has had such enormous popular appeal. And certainly it has to be one of the strangest, darkest films ever so widely embraced.

    *Unless you want to count JAWS or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS as horror films, which I am not inclined to.

  6. Subtlety – I do think it’s weird that the movie is so huge yet kinda undervalued at the same time – it’s undoubtedly a phenomenon and everyone knows the scenes and catchphrases and iconic images, but i still feel like it’s not talked about and dissected as much as The Shining or Alien or Texas Chainsaw. (Maybe because it’s been diluted by four sequels that I think were all flops, and in fact I completely forgot there was JUST a TV show based off of this!) The original is still honestly kind of talked about in hushed tones – I know several people who refuse to watch it and it’s taken me 40 years on Earth to finally watch it (and I’m kinda regretting it to be honest).

    Majestyk – the one line of the demon’s that did make me laugh out loud was “Shove it up your ass!” because it seemed like such a modern phrase. I feel like people might be bothered by this, but I was really creeped out and intrigued by how the demon seemed to act different and speak differently in every scene. Like one scene she sounds almost classy and dignified (“What an excellent day for an exorcism!”) and others she’s like a feral monster. The scene where Father Karras comes back in the room and finds Father Merrin dead, and she’s grinning in the corner with a Lolita-esque “I did something naughty!” grin – it’s horrifying not just because of what we imagine happened but also because we’ve never seen her act like that before; it takes you completely off guard.

    CJ – That’s funny, I was also considering watching Repossessed solely to un-freak me out; if it helped Linda Blair get over the trauma of being in the first one, that’s actually a pretty powerful statement on the healing power of art and confronting your fears and traumas head-on (It actually seems like a Brigsby Bear-style feel-good comedy could be made about that process).

  7. neal: I’m not trying to take away anybody’s legit experience with the film nor its impact on the genre. The parts that work work like gangbusters. But for me, those parts have been diluted by familiarity, imitation, and parody, so they’re poor recompense for the solid 90 minutes of dull mumbling it takes to get to them. I would love to hear anybody defend the Iraq sequence (somewhere, Mr. S senses a great disturbance), not merely as an allegedly vital building block of the story, but as a piece of entertaining film in its own right. I get that it ties some shit together or whatever but I seriously don’t see why it needs to be so tedious, especially right at the beginning when the movie should be hooking you. It’s like kicking off the Indy 500 with a live reading of the manual from an exhaust manifold. Applicable to the subject matter, sure, but fuckin’ A, man, I don’t have all day.

    I’m not proud of myself for feeling this way but I have to be honest. I watch the movie and 20 minutes in I’m begging it to get to the goddamn pea soup already.

  8. But since I got some superfans here, can anybody tell me what the verdict on THE VERSION MOTHERFUCKERS AIN’T EVEN SEEN ONCE all these years later? Has it usurped the original version like BLADE RUNNER: NOW WITH UNICORNS OR WHATEVER or has it gone the way of the walkie talkies in E.T.? I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the movie since the theatrical re-release in 2000, so if I was to give it another chance, which version should I watch?

    Thanks, fellas. Your mothers sew socks in hell.

  9. I don’t know what exactly the differences are (other than the “spider walk”), but by my understanding the “new” version is now more or less the official version that constantly gets released on home video and I never heard anybody complain about that.

  10. Well, all I’ll say is that I find every bit of it fascinating. There is no scene which is not filled with a million tiny inexplicable details for you to wonder at. It is not, in any way, a streamlined or even structurally defensible narrative; it’s full of weird digressions, like the Iraq sequence, that insist upon themselves but never resolve in any kind of explicit way. One good example is the Detective character played by Lee Cobb. He actually has a pretty fair amount of screen time, during which he just seems really strange and unsympathetic and insinuating, and it seems like they must be setting up that Chris is going to get arrested or blamed for the whole thing somehow. But it never happens, he just does nothing, vanishes, and is never mentioned again. Robert McKee would simply call this bad screenwriting, but something about the way Friedkin presents the character makes it something more nebulous and interesting. He does nothing narratively, but it feels like there’s a noxious hidden logic which you can feel, but can’t consciously explain. It’s absolutely not a movie which is about getting down to business, it’s a movie which is dedicated to frustrating your best attempts to ever completely get a handle on it. Which is part of what makes its enormous widespread appeal so baffling to me.

  11. I think Lt. Kinderman is in there for comic relief and some exposition, but don’t quote me on it. He does show up at the house during the finale, I believe, and the extended cut has a little button with him at the end that feels unneccessary.

    They delve more into his backstory in the book, but the subplot still doesn’t go anywhere.

  12. My wife shares Majestyk’s opinion that this movie is 45 minutes of good stuff and a whole bunch of filler. That’s hard to argue with, so thank you Mr. Subtlety for putting in words what i couldn’t – the movie invisibly builds so much tension and unease through sound, editing, and good old-fashioned filmatism, that stuff that ends up being extraneous still feels exciting and dreadful. (I was actually pretty riveted while watching the Iraq sequence, even though since absolutely nothing ends up happening I will totally admit I’ll probably hate it if I ever have the guts to watch this movie again).

    I’m with Subtlety that I find alot of the movie inexplicable and curious – what was up w/ that crazy rock-concert shot of someone reaching up from the bed from Karras’ POV during the exorcism? What’s up with the demon getting burned by the Holy Water that turned out to be tap water? Did she know Karras’ mother or not? Was “Captain Howdy” (the imaginary friend) also the demon? I also assumed the Detective was going to blame Chris and Regan for the murders at the end (he literally walks in the room at the worst possible time), but nope, nothing happens. I also read the obnoxious director who gets thrown out the window was molesting Regan – that kinda makes his death awesome but where was this established? Chief among the mysteries – how was Max Von Sydow only 42 or something when this was shot? Ryan Reynolds and Anna Faris are that age now, for crying out loud.

    One more thing I forgot to mention – I always thought there was going to be some big elaborate Ouija board sequence because I had heard about one being in this movie, and I know people who won’t mess around with one “because of The Exorcist”. So imagine my surprise when it’s in a kind of throw-away scene with a blink-and-you-miss-it special effect. That and the attic sequence make this into more of a Haunted House Movie than I expected, which again, may feel like pointless filler but is also the reason I’m kinda freaked out by the dark in my own house now like a giant pansy.

  13. That crazy rock concert shot is easily my favorite thing in the movie.

  14. I’ve always wondered about that shot too. The figure seems to be an iconic image of suffering. Is it Regan’s soul? Is it the Demon? In a movie that is so straightforward, that scene and the face in the shadows are so abstract.

  15. Been too long since I’ve seen it to make a comment but my opinion fluctuates on this one.

    As for the VERSION YOU NEVER SEEN TILL YOU SEE IT, they still offer the Theatrical Cut and now push that one as the Director’s Cut (with some differences from the Version you haven’t seen yet) as the main version but I have yet to meet anyone who prefers it.

  16. Conspiracy theory time: Some time in the mid-70s, a George Soros-esque puppet-master billionaire came to Warner Bros and said “Guys, my kids are STILL scared of The Exorcist. They’re acting like pansies and I can’t deal with it anymore. I will give you as much money as you want and creative freedom to make a sequel – however my only terms will be that it must un-scare anyone traumatized by the first one. Every mysterious thing from the first one must be explained in the dumbest possible way. There will be zero scares. Also, you must use leftover Tatooine sets from Star Wars and a couple thousand locusts that I got stuck with. Oh and my kid made a broken lamp in shop class that only does strobe lights and I want it featured heavily in the movie. But other than that, do whatever you want.” And the Exorcist II was born. This is my only explanation for this nutty, nutty movie that is one of the few “worst movies of all time” that is actually one of the worst movies of all time. But I will forever be in its debt for un-scaring me from The Exorcist about 10 minutes in.

    Note: I will have to say, Linda Blair is really bubbly and likable in this – she’s not exactly “good” but she definitely has charisma (and is a dead ringer for Amy Schumer). I like how the movie ends like X-Men or Man of Steel, with her I guess going off to help people with her superpowers before showing herself off to the world. I wonder if there’s tie-in novels or comic books or something about Regan going around helping people with that magical lasso dance she uses at the end. I know it helped me. Thank you, Regan, and thank you mysterious billionaire.

  17. Say what you want about 2 EX 2 CORCIST, but the trailer is great!

  18. Here’s a phrase you don’t expect to encounter in a review of the sequel to one of the most iconic horror movies of all time: “Tap-dance sequence”

    The Exorcist II: The Heretic

    The Exorcist 2: The Heretic (1977) Dir. John Boorman Written by William Goodhard (with John Boorman and Rospo Pallenberg, uncredited) Starri...

  19. CJ – That trailer really does make the movie seem way more exciting than it is! Plus I like they show that crazy rock concert shot from the first one, I had no idea it was so iconic!

    Mr. S – How did I not know you had a blog? Or did I know and forget in my old age? Either way, your review is fair and spot on – it’s extremely hard to put into words JUST HOW BAD part 2 is, but you’ve done a damn good job of it. It really is disconnected and discombobulated – a random assortment of scenes and ideas with no connective tissue – it kinda reminded me of Batman v. Superman – scenes intercut with no rhyme or reason, dealing w/ minor characters and plot points we have no desire to see. Wait, Batman v. Superman had a shout-out to Boorman’s Excalibur, no to mention strange future-dreams/psychic visions and a whole bunch of African Village nonsense as well! I think Snyder might be an Exorcist II fan (like Quentin Tarantino, apparently).

    But at least BvS had some spectacular, memorable setpieces. The only memorable sequence from Exorcist 2 is the Evil Dead 2-esque camera scaring a guy off a cliff and then his body falling and bouncing off things for the next 5 minutes. The last 20 minutes, when the horror should be amping up, is instead spent detailing minutiae like our heroes getting stuck in traffic and trying to avoid the conductor on a train because they didn’t buy a ticket. It feels like an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, not the sequel to the biggest horror film of all time. It’s anti-cinema on a mind-boggling scale and it makes me wonder if I should now avoid Zardoz at all costs or watch it immediately.

  20. And the weird thing is, there’s a ton of talent in EXORCIST II, much of it on ready display (the production design, for example, which is consistently amazing, and Morricone’s crazy ass score) and somehow the film manages to make NOTHING of any of it.

    However, you should see ZARDOZ immediately. It’s not good, but it feels like a spectacular misfire fueled by hubris and cocaine, as opposed to EXORCIST II’s dispiriting misfire fueled by ambivalence and incoherence.

  21. Well you sealed the deal, Mr. S – I figured what the heck and finally saw Zardoz. You can see alot of the same DNA from Exorcist II, but Zardoz (despite being infinitely more difficult and arty) also has a semblance of coherence and style – beautifully composed shots, clever edits, a smart script that consistently reveals new information but also keeps you guessing throughout. It’s the obtuseness of Exorcist II done right, even though it goes way overboard into self-indulgence. I’d be lying if I said I understood it all, but what little I understood was entertaining and thought-provoking. Watched in 2018, it actually feels like an inspired cross between mother!, Idiocracy, Demolition Man, and an episode of Black Mirror. It’s also scarier and more unsettling than anything in The Exorcist II – Boorman can definitely create shocking scenes and a mood of dread – it’s just a mystery why he chose not to in a sequel to The Exorcist.

  22. I found Exorcist II to be deeply moving and wildly profound… I was also on some really good acid, at a packed midnight screening, and didn’t know what movie I was about to see.

    If you ever get a chance to see Exorcist 2 in this context, I highly recommend it.

  23. I’m team EXORCIST 2 is too weird to call bad.

    My opinion fluctuates on the first one. I’ve always been a fan of 3.

    I remember liking DOMINION but it is unfinished. THE BEGINNING is exactly what you’d think a Renny Harlin EXORCIST would be like.

  24. If ever I have to justify my life before Saint Peter, I’m going to start by mentioning all the people I got to watch ZARDOZ. Glad you liked it, neal!

    geoffreyjar — it’s definitely too weird to call bad. That’s why we invented the word “catastrophic.”

  25. I never thought I’d call an Exorcist movie “delightful”, but I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face the entire time while watching Exorcist III. It’s my kind of horror movie – thrilling but not particularly creepy or disturbing, intense yet incredibly fun and playful. Full of De Palma / Park Chan-wook- esque stylish setpieces and best of all – it’s packed with incredible monologues. This is the Glengarry Glen Ross of horror movies, and I’m surprised film nerds aren’t running around quoting Brad Dourif’s NEXT LEVEL performance. He is easily the best thing in an excellent film, and HOT TAKE – I totally prefer him to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter or Heath Ledger’s Joker, both of which I think borrow quite a bit from Dourif here. (The Joker HIMSELF also makes a surprise cameo here, along with Patrick Ewing, Samuel L. Jackson, C. Everett Koop, Larry King, and FABIO. Have I mentioned this movie is incredible?)

    Side note: Has there ever been another sequel whose entire plot and central mystery is “wait, how is this a sequel to the other movie?” I actually don’t mind the reshoots and think the tacked-on exorcism is powerful and inventively realized – but wow, if this was just billed as “George C. Scott in Legion” and then revealed itself to be a stealth sequel to The Exorcist, I think that would be an all-timer “you had to be there” movie experience on par with Psycho. As is, it’s a great shared universe/reboot and proof that William Peter Blatty is a better director than most directors. I think it’s time to finally watch The Ninth Configuration now.

  26. I know, the movie is incredible fun and well made!

  27. I suppose at first the idea of using the cop Kinderman (recast at that) as the lynchpin of a sequel seems a stretch. But once Jason Miller shows up, shit gets real!

  28. Finally finished the Exorcist series, and I’ll be perfectly honest – I kinda liked both 4 and 5. I think word on the street is Harlin’s version was absolutely terrible and Schrader’s version was not quite as bad, but bad in a different way. I’m here to say I find Harlin’s charmingly schlocky and Schrader’s legit good.

    I don’t want to get into spoilers too much since hopefully Vern will review the rest of the series, but I highly recommend watching 4 and 5 back to back. There’s no fatigue since they’re almost entirely different movies despite sharing Skarsgard and the sets and props. Most of the actors are recast, most of the characters are different or serve different purposes. A child who’s maybe the 3rd lead character in one will have like 2 lines in the other. Binge-watching the two movies is a surreal, unique experience (and really makes me wish they put out Snyder’s Justice League or Lord and Miller’s Solo one day). Btw, as this is a retelling of Merrin’s flashbacks from Part II, this means 3 of the 5 Exorcist movies involve Merrin’s African Adventures (and the story is completely different all three times, Rashomon-style)

    Harlin’s has a big twist that a) I didn’t see coming and b) makes zero sense. It also has a shower scene, in case you were still thinking this was going to be classy, along with outrageous gore and atrocious CGI. It’s the Iraq sequence in Exorcist as directed by Stephen Sommers – there’s no reason I should like it, but I was always entertained. One criticism – if you’re going to end your prequel with someone calling Merrin “Mr. Merrin” and he goes, “Call me…FATHER Merrin” and struts off into the fog with his hat and briefcase to recreate the iconic image from Part One, you kinda need to play Tubular Bells as you go to credits, right? Right???

    Schrader’s version starts with a scene that’s also in Harlin’s (one of few) – except you notice right off the bat this version of the scene is better – there’s more tension, more dread – Skarsgard seems more engaged (he’s much better in Schrader’s). The movie honestly doesn’t feel incomplete and it’s certainly not “unreleasable” as I’ve heard – it’s no less slow-burn or draggy than most of today’s A24-ish indie horror – there’s still some gore and scares (and those awful CGI effects are back). The runtime is almost identical to Harlin’s but it feels more fleshed out and thoughtful. The plotting gets a little messy towards the end and the final exorcism ends anticlimactically, but it’s still an involving and dare I say powerful experience.

    Final ranking: 1, 3, 5, 4, 2. (There’s a big gap between 1 and the still-excellent 3, and a bigger gap between 4 and 2). I still recommend all of ’em and will probably start watching the show as I’ve heard good things.

  29. Broddie pointed this out in the Lethal Weapon 4 thread and I finally finished it so I can agree- The Exorcist TV show is surprisingly great. It’s definitely the best Exorcist-related thing behind III; in fact if someone said they preferred this to III or even the original I wouldn’t really argue with them (I think Mr. Majestyk in particular would find it more entertaining and better-paced than the first movie).

    Season 1 is believe it or not, an intriguing mix of The Exorcist and The Wire; sure it’s yet another white upper-class teenage girl in need of exorcising (it kinda has to be, right?), but it somehow manages to incorporate city politics, corruption, class, and race in the proceedings in a surprisingly organic way. The two new hero priests are enormously likable and better developed than any of the priests in the film series. And there’s a twist that was unfortunately spoiled for me but is an absolute jaw-dropper if you don’t see it coming.

    Season 2 is even better. After this and “Searching”, John Cho cements himself as one of our best everyman dramatic actors, and Briana Hildebrand (Deadpool’s Negasonic Teenage Warhead) is nothing short of incredible. (People should really be all up her ass and not Ruby Rose, since only one of them has the acting chops to go along with their striking look). I can’t give away too much since you don’t even know who needs Exorcising until about halfway through the season, but I’ll say the scare scenes are well done (Ti West directed an episode) and the emotional drama stuff is really involving. The final episode gave me “all the feels” or whatever the phrase is.

    It’s too bad the series got canceled but it doesn’t leave you hanging in a frustrating way. Each season is only 10 episodes and has a fairly self-contained story arc. I’d say if you’ve got a Hulu subscription and like the movies you should give it a shot.

  30. Good to hear. It’S available on Amazon Prime here and I heard some good things, but also pushed it aside because I didn’t want to invest time in another cancelled story arc show.

  31. I don’t know if this applies to anywhere else in the world, but in the UK THE EXORCIST TV series is leaving Amazon Prime at the end of the month, so I’m working my way through it now. On the fourth episode of the first series

    It’s very much in the “using a TV show to tell what could have been a movie” mold, in ways both good and bad. I’m not as gaga over this as some people were but it’s fairly compelling.

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