The Exorcist (1973)

The Ultimate 70s Blogathon

Thank you to both Drew and Kim for hosting such a great blogathon! And what a cool, psychedelic banner you made too (if I may add). See the original review here.

The Exorcist (1973) – Film Review


Though not one of my absolute personal favourites (like top 20 or something), I still believe that The Exorcist is one of the greatest horror films, if not THE greatest horror film ever made. And I realise that’s an incredibly bold statement but it’s hard to imagine anything else ever being as infamous, chilling and powerful. It’s the ultimate battle between good and evil. It has an amazing atmosphere, pairing great writing with genuine terror and is still scary to this day (45 years after its original release – actually that might be the scariest fact of all!). Anyway, twinned with the fact I’d watched it fairly recently it was an easy choice for the Ultimate 70s Blogathon.

I first watched The Exorcist as a teenager (almost a rite of passage) and it did really scare me. But let’s just get this out the way now – of course it won’t ‘scare’ everyone. And of course it won’t scare you if you watch it with your stoner mates and laugh loudly through the crucifix scene. But that doesn’t make it shit, okay? I don’t often get on my high horse with movies (not unless someone starts slagging of Face Off or Zoolander) but it genuinely irritates me when people say “The Exorcist? That’s shit! I thought it was funny”. Er, no mate. It wasn’t the first ever horror film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar for nothing you know (though it didn’t win). Aaaaand exhale.

The Exorcist is an Absolute Classic – plain and simple. I refuse to hear otherwise. Apart from some valid points already mentioned, there are other various reasons it deserves the jagged, bloody crown of horror.


Based on a novel, it has a super, valid and coherent story. Made in the 70s it has those beautiful on-screen retro effects. You know when they’re all freezing cold in Regan’s room and their breath comes out white? Well the room really was like an ice box. And you know Regan’s horrible gravely ‘possessed’ voice? That really was done by a voice actress – who chain smoked and drank whiskey to get the tone right (you gotta love that relaxed 1970s outlook).
It’s also very well directed and I can only assume William Friedkin pissed off the entire set with his gung-ho attitude. Examples include firing a real gun next to someone’s head to get a ‘real’ reaction and the bit where Regan’s mother (Ellen Burstyn) is attacked by her possessed daughter, well she really WAS in pain – and shouting angrily at Friedkin as she landed on the floor, screaming and clutching her back. It was a genuine reaction – and cheerfully kept in the film. If you care to check out the IMDB trivia page you’ll find lots of similar stories. And then of course there’s the cool mystery, intrigue and real life horror that generally surrounds The Exorcist. Like the myth that there was evil ‘written into the pages’ of the script, making it a cursed movie from the beginning. With deaths on the set and a fire that halted production for a number of weeks, interestingly there was actually a real life exorcism ON SET – that’s how freaked out they all were. And the terror definitely continued with the audience, with reports of people fainting, throwing up and running out of the cinema, one guy apparently actually broke his jaw as he collapsed in shear, dramatic fear.
Aside from all that, it also seems important to point out that The Exorcist is also scary, simply because it’s just that – SCARY. It’s dark, it’s claustrophobic, there’s creepy eyes and demonic voices, evil laughter, dark corners and tension. We’re talking about a cute little girl possessed by a malevolent demon for goodness sake. And though it’s now been done many, many (yawn) times, back in 1973, can you imagine how effing terrifying it was?


So, what more proof do we need that The Exorcist is a terrifying and brilliant delight? We have a great story, a mental director, superb old effects and a genuine feel of evil. Well, I suppose we could do with a world famous theme tune? Something that everyone now associates with the film? Happily The Exorcist also succeeds this, in the shape of Mike Oldfield’s the Tubular Bells. Not a score written for the movie, but a piece of music used in the movie and now basically as famous as the movie. And in places, just as scary.



About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
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24 Responses to The Exorcist (1973)

  1. I totally agree that this is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. I say Psycho, this, and Jaws were totally groundbreaking in that genre.

  2. vinnieh says:

    A fantastic post on a classic of the horror genre. It’s downright creepy in many ways.

  3. Great film and still good to this day.

  4. MIB says:

    Confession – I’ve not seen this one. :/

    It’s hard to believe that it was actually banned here in the UK for over a decade when the BBFC though youngsters might get to see it and be affected by it despite an 18 rating – now it’s been on terrestrial TV and freely available on Amazon Prime and probably YouTube too…

  5. johnrieber says:

    To me, the greatest horror film of all time, narrowly beating out “Carrie.” When it was released, people were fainting in the theaters here in the US – I posted a story about it with some fun trivia about getting the ice cold breath in scenes – no effects, just massive refrigeration! –

  6. Drew says:

    Thanks for joining in on the blogathon, Emma!

  7. Kevin says:

    I don’t remember if I saw this film first or the Leslie Nielsen spoof, Repossessed, which is hilarious. Now I can’t think of one without thinking of the other.

    And yes, Tubular bells are amazing, as memorable for me as Ave Satanis from the Omen, the Franciscan choir of the damned. That song still gives me chills.

  8. beetleypete says:

    I thought this was great. I went to see it at the cinema, in 1973. My then girlfriend was so terrified, she spent most of the film hiding under the lapels of my jacket. Yes, lapels were that big, back then! 🙂
    As ever, Pete. XXX

  9. renxkyoko says:

    For me, what makes this movie scarier is that the characters are all soft- spoken ( except , of course, when the characters need to scream )

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