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31 Days of Horror: The Exorcist

When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline.

Synopsis: Evil children in horror movies hit a stride in 1973 with William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s book. Famous actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) is in the middle of shooting a movie, but her own twelve-year-old daughter Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) is having problems at home.

It starts with weird noises in the attic and an imaginary Ouija board friend she calls Captain Howdy. However, it soon escalates, and after exhausting her medical options, Chris turns to the Catholic church. She convinces a local priest to perform an exorcism on her daughter, revealing the terrifying demon possessing her body.

Killer Scene: There are so many brilliant moments in The Exorcist that it’s hard to pick one of them. Many will remember the iconic image of Regan vomiting pea soup all over Father Karras. But for my money, the freakiest scene in the whole film is the equally iconic moment when, in the throes of the exorcism, Regan’s head spins around. Though an honorable mention goes to the crab walk moment in the special edition, which has just hit Blu-ray.

KillSheet

skulls-3Violence: It’s not a slasher movie, so a lot of the violence in the film isn’t traditional horror movie fodder, but there’s some crazy shit that happens. You’ve got pea soup vomit, spinning heads, a lacerated face, people leaping out of windows, Regan peeing on the carpet and devilishly offensive crucifix masturbation. It may seem a bit tame by today’s standards, but it was brutal in 1973.

skulls-1Sex: No traditional sex, but if you’re into freaky moments like the aforementioned crucifix masturbation and dirty talk by Satan via a twelve-year-old’s mouth, then this is your bag.

skulls-35Scares: When I was just a toddler, my parents took me to some cartoon film for kids. While we were in the lobby, my dad heard a crash and came running, expecting me to be at the center of it. Instead, it was a full-grown adult who stumbled out of The Exorcist and passed out, knocking over a trash can. Yeah, it was that scary back in the day. But even today, turn off the lights and watch the movie at night in a dark, empty house. It gets in your head.

Final Thoughts: Along with John Carpenter’s The Thing and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, The Exorcist actually improves upon the original book. There is so many memorable and iconic moments of the film. From the eerie, last-minute replacement score to the terrifyingly realistic exorcism moments, The Exorcist continues to be one of the scariest and most effective movies I’ve seen. And unlike some films (like the Star Wars reduxes), the special edition is just as good, if not better. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on a classic.

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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