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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Exorcist 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray: Get Scared Again, and Then Figure Out Why It Scares You.


The Exorcist is a scary movie. You should see it. If you haven't seen it at this point, what part of the advertising didn't reach you? The word of mouth didn't force you into watching it? You aren't old enough yet to check it out because you heard that a little girl rides a cross like a saw horse screaming, "Jesus, Fuck Me"?  I am going to tell you right now that any reason you give me is tantamount to a lie. Face it. You're just a scaredy cat. If you're a horror fan, then you have seen and loved the Exorcist. I've met few people who don't love it for all the best reasons, and to review the content of the picture including performances, director, music, effects or overall impact is just redundant. The people who dislike it... it just scares them too damn much (my wife included). To our readers who love it... this edition wants you to walk into the middle of your happy cocktail party and piss all over your floor. That's a good thing in horror speak. 

Let's talk specifically about this particular release knowing that I have been terrified by this movie since I was a kid. My dad taped it off television for me when it was on during the 80's. It was cut to ribbons, but at least I was allowed to enjoy it even though I had no idea just what I was missing. My father would eventually just tape over it saying that it was best for me to see it when I was older. The next time I would watch it in full would be when it was released in 2000, full restored. I was on a head of codeine due to having some teeth pulled, and I was alone in the theater. Imagine that. Drugged. Alone in the theater. and then... a new scene made me scream, quite literally, in terror. THE SPIDERWALK. I mention that here because one of the special features spends time on the re-release and the battle between writer, William Peter Blatty and director, William Friedkin. Both editions are provided in this set on Blu-ray. The extended edition and the original theatrical edition.

Fans of this movie are sure to enjoy the abundance of Friedkin focused extras. Two separate commentaries from Friedkin and one by Blatty. A feature making of special, Raising Hell: Filming the Exorcist Set, which focuses on Friedkin, Blatty and Blair in interviews as well as footage from behind the scenes of the Exorcist, candid and explanatory. The 1998 BBC Documentary "The Fear of God: 25 Years of the Exorcist" is included as well.

Two new features for this set is "Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist" and "Talk of the Devil".The first is a chance to hang out with William Peter Blatty, listen to him read the Exorcist book and watch him return to the place where he had written it. It's intimate and warm and gives life to a man who feels often overlooked in the creative process of creating the Exorcist in novel form despite his name appearing all over the movie. I remember reading snippets of the book when I was a kid. I'd sneak it off my father's book shelf, the purple framed softcover edition with the terrifying cover and the quizzical title (what's an Exorcist!?). The second new feature focuses on the original Exorcist, the man whose story evolved into Blatty's tale. This is some older footage that allows you a candid look at a man who regales you with his tale of a battle of good versus evil. 

The edition comes in a handsome box and features samples from Friedkin's new book, The Friedkin Connection also available. The sample includes some very nice stills from the movie and behind the scenes pictures. The book will make an excellent companion piece to this edition. I can't speak for the entire read, but I enjoyed the sampling I read. 

Okay, so we've just told you that this is a pretty damn great edition. It has some new goodies ot present in the previous ultimate edition Blu-ray edition. What's it missing? As a fan there are certain things you want from an ultimate edition like this.You may get a whole lotta Friedkin and Blatty and Blair and a few others, but you don't get too intimate look into the lives of other cast members like Max Von Sydow or Ellen Burstyn. I suppose they would have their reasons to not be involved with this picture, and though I've looked, I couldn't exactly find out why. Either way, they are missed, and they are noticeably absent. I would have also liked a firm making of feature on the music. It's touched upon, but there's gotta be more of a story behind the exceptionally long piece that eventually was chopped up to give us an Exorcist theme to remember. 

Aside from that you're looking at a solid release. I suppose every edition no matter how filled with extras won't have everything you want and this one, well... it has everything you'll need to enjoy the picture, understand the scope of its release, making of, history and impact on the horror genre. The sequels aren't discussed... probably for the best. 

You can pick up The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary [Blu-ray] now. Fans must apply. Haven't seen it. Stop sleeping in your parents' bed already and get yourself some Campbell's pea soup. Think you've seen it every which way? How many ways can you see the Devil himself?

For the record, at over two hours long, the extended edition is the one I watch and it does truly scary me to this day. I can laugh, but it's nervous laughter. I can sympathise now. I have a two daughters. I don't believe in the Devil, but this movie makes me question that disbelief. Sometimes the questioning gets an unfamiliar, affirmative answer. Yes, there's a Devil. The Exorcist told me so.

- Dr. TERROR

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