Template:Infobox film

The Exorcist is a 1973 American horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted from the 1971 novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty and based on the exorcism case of Robbie Mannheim,[1][2] dealing with the demonic possession of a young girl and her mother’s desperate attempts to win back her daughter through an exorcism conducted by two priests. The film features Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller and Linda Blair. The film is one of a cycle of 'demonic child' movies produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Rosemary's Baby and The Omen.

The Exorcist was released theatrically in the United States by Warner Bros. on December 26, 1973. The film earned ten Academy Award nominations—winning two, one for Best Sound and Best Adapted Screenplay, and losing Best Picture to The Sting. It became one of the highest earning movies of all time, grossing $441 million worldwide.

The film has had a significant influence on popular culture.[3][4] It was named the scariest movie of all time by Entertainment Weekly[5] and[6] and by viewers of AMC in 2006, and was #3 on Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments.[7] In 2010, the Library of Congress selected the film to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry.[8][9]


At an archaeological dig in Northern Iraq, archaeologist Father Lankester Merrin (Max von Sydow) visits a site where a silver Christian medallion along with a small stone amulet resembling a grimacing, bestial creature are found buried together. In the first of the two exorcisms in the film, Merrin battles the demon, Pazuzu.

Meanwhile, Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller), a young priest at Georgetown University, begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's illness.

While filming near her temporary residence in Georgetown, actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior of her 12-year-old daughter, Regan (Linda Blair). Chris initially believes Regan's changes are related to puberty, however, doctors suspect a lesion on her temporal lobe. Regan endures a series of unpleasant medical tests. When X-rays show nothing out of the ordinary, a doctor advises that Regan be taken to a psychiatrist, whom she assaults. Paranormal occurrences continue, including a violently shaking bed, strange noises, and unexplained movements.

When all medical explanations are exhausted, doctors recommend an exorcism. In desperation, Chris consults Father Karras who is both a priest and a psychiatrist. During a period in which Father Karras observes Regan, she constantly refers to herself as the Devil. Father Karras initially believes her to be merely suffering from psychosis, until he records her speaking in a strange language which turns out to be English spoken backwards. Despite his doubts, Father Karras decides to request permission from the Church to conduct an exorcism.

Father Merrin, an experienced exorcist, is summoned to Georgetown to assist. He and Father Karras try to drive the spirit from Regan.[10] The demon threatens and taunts both priests, both physically and verbally (including the demon using the voice of Father Karras' mother). Father Merrin excuses the younger priest and begins the exorcism, once more on his own. Father Karras returns to find Father Merrin has suffered a fatal heart attack. He attempts to perform CPR to no avail, while Regan giggles. Father Karras strikes her and chokes her, challenging the demon to leave Regan and enter him. The demon does so, whereupon the priest regains enough control and throws himself through Regan's bedroom window and falls down the steps outside. At the bottom, a devastated Father Joe Dyer (William O'Malley) administers last rites as Father Karras dies. Regan is restored to health and does not appear to remember her ordeal. Chris and Regan leave Georgetown and their trauma behind. They return Father Karras' silver medallion to Father Dyer, who takes one final look down the steps, behind the house and departs.


  • Ellen Burstyn as Chris MacNeil, a world famous actress living in Washington with her only daughter. She is atheist. When Regan starts displaying a strange behavior, Chris begins experiencing an emotional breakdown and tries to find a cure for her daughter, going through neurosurgeons, psychiatrists and finally a Catholic exorcism.
  • Max von Sydow as Father Lankester Merrin, an old priest and archeologist. Known in his congregation for his experience in demonic possession and his achievements in expelling demons through exorcisms. Peaceful and faithful, has faced the demon Pazuzu in the past and is aware of the risks of facing evil. Is called by his superiors to perform Regan's exorcism.
  • Linda Blair as Regan MacNeil, Chris's daughter. A 12 year-old girl with no problems in life. Starts displaying strange and aggressive behaviors until her outside looks twisted as well. Unknown to her mother, Regan has become possessed by the demon Pazuzu.
  • Jason Miller as Father Damien Karras, a troubled priest, vocational counselor and psychiatrist of his congregation. Suffers greatly when his mother (an elderly Greek immigrant) dies of old age. Sadly confesses to have lost his faith in God. Assists father Merrin through Regan's exorcism. Jack Nicholson was the original choice for the role but eventually got turned over to Jason.
  • Lee J. Cobb as Lieutenant William F. Kinderman, a kindly and elderly police detective investigating Burke Dennings' death. Assertive and cunning, he thinks Dennings' death is related to Regan and the recent desecrations at the nearby church. He was 5' 11" and 62 at the time the events of The Exorcist took place.
  • Mercedes McCambridge as Pazuzu's voice. The voice coming from Regan when her appearance has become the most twisted.
  • Eileen Dietz as Pazuzu's face. Haunting face that keeps appearing in visions throughout the film.
  • Kitty Winn as Sharon Spencer. A young girl who looks after Regan and assists Chris in all of her home affairs. Tries to help Regan in every way possible when her condition starts getting worse.
  • Jack MacGowran as Burke Dennings. An eccentric film director and close friend of Chris. Dies unexpectedly in mysterious conditions while staying alone at Chris' house looking after Regan.
  • Father William O'Malley as Father Joseph Dyer. A young priest and close friend of Father Karras. Helps him through his depression after his mother's death.
  • Arthur Storch as the Psychiatrist
  • Andre Trottier as the Priest's assistant


Factual basis for the filmEdit

Aspects of the novel were inspired by an exorcism performed on Ronald Hunkeler, a young boy from Cottage City, Maryland (although he uses pseudonyms Robbie Mannheim and Roland Doe)[11] in 1949[12] by the Jesuit priest, Fr. William S. Bowdern, who formerly taught at both St. Louis University and St. Louis University High School. Hunkeler's Catholic family was convinced the child's aggressive behavior was attributable to demonic possession, and called upon the services of Father Walter Halloran to perform the rite of exorcism. Hunkeler grew up to become a successful NASA aeronautical engineer. Father Halloran maintained until his death in 2005 that he never witnessed Hunkeler display any of the supernatural behavior portrayed in the film; no foreign languages, changes in tone of voice, unusual strength, vomiting or urinating, or unusual markings on the boy’s body.[13]


Although the agency representing Blair did not send her for the role, Blair's mother brought her to meet with Warner Bros.' casting department and then with Friedkin. Pamelyn Ferdin, a veteran of science fiction and supernatural drama, was a candidate, but the producers may have felt she was too well-known. Denise Nickerson, who played Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, was considered, but her parents pulled her out, troubled by the material. Anissa Jones, known for her role as Buffy in Family Affair, auditioned for the role but was rejected for much the same reason as Ferdin. At one point the search for a young actress capable of playing Regan was so trying that Friedkin claims he even considered auditioning adult dwarf actors. The part went instead to Blair, a relative unknown except for a role in The Way We Live Now.

The studio wanted Marlon Brando for the role of Father Lankester Merrin.Template:Citation needed Friedkin immediately vetoed this by stating it would become a "Brando movie." Jack Nicholson was up for the part of Father Karras before Stacy Keach was hired by Blatty. Friedkin then spotted Miller in a Broadway play. Even though Miller had never acted in a movie, Keach's contract was bought out by Warner Bros. and Miller was cast. Carol Burnett, Jane Fonda, and Shirley MacLaine were approached to play Chris MacNeil. All refused to do the film. Audrey Hepburn was approached, but said she would only agree if the film were to be shot in Rome. Anne Bancroft was another choice, but she was in her first month of pregnancy. Burstyn then agreed to do the movie. Lee J. Cobb was Friedkin's first and only choice for Lt. Kinderman.

Friedkin originally intended to use Blair's voice, electronically deepened and roughened, for the demon's dialogue. Although Friedkin felt this worked fine in some places, he felt scenes with the demon confronting the two priests lacked the dramatic power required and selected legendary radio actress Mercedes McCambridge, an experienced voice actor, to provide the demon's voice. After filming, Warner Bros. attempted to conceal McCambridge's participation which led to a lawsuit from McCambridge and a grudge between her and Friedkin that was never healed.Template:Citation needed


Warner had approached Arthur Penn (who was teaching at Yale), Peter Bogdanovich (who wanted to pursue other projects, subsequently regretting the decision), and Mike Nichols (who did not want to shoot a film so dependent on a child's performance) and John Boorman - who would direct the second film - said he did not want to direct it because it was "cruel towards children". Originally Mark Rydell was hired to direct, but William Peter Blatty insisted on Friedkin instead, because he wanted his film to have the same energy as Friedkin's previous film, The French Connection. After a standoff with the studio, which initially refused to budge over Rydell, Blatty eventually got his way. Stanley Kubrick was offered the film (and later on its first sequel) but declined.

Production of The Exorcist began on August 14, 1972 and though it was only supposed to last 85 days, it lasted for 224.

Friedkin went to some extraordinary lengths, reminiscent of D.W. Griffith's manipulation of the actors, to get the genuine reactions he wanted. Yanked violently around in harnesses, both Blair and Burstyn suffered back injuries and their painful screams went right into the film. Burstyn later reported that she had permanent back injury after landing on her coccyx when a stuntman jerked her via cable during the scene when Regan slaps her mother. After asking Reverend William O'Malley if he trusted him and being told yes, Friedkin slapped him hard across the face before a take to generate a deeply solemn reaction that was used in the film, as a very emotional Father Dyer read last rites to Father Karras; this offended the many Catholic crew members on the set.Template:Citation needed He also fired a gun without warning on the set to elicit shock from Jason Miller for a take. Lastly, he had Regan's bedroom set built inside a freezer so that the actors' breath could be visible on camera, which required the crew to wear parkas and other cold-weather gear.


Lalo Schifrin's working score was rejected by Friedkin. Schifrin had written six minutes of music for the initial film trailer but audiences were reportedly too scared by its combination of sights and sounds. Warner Bros. executives told Friedkin to instruct Schifrin to tone it down with softer music, but Friedkin did not relay the message. Schifrin's final score was thrown out into the parking lot by Friedkin, dubbing it "fucking Mexican marimba music".Template:Citation needed

In the soundtrack liner notes for his 1977 film, Sorcerer, Friedkin said had he heard the music of Tangerine Dream earlier, he would have had them score The Exorcist. Instead, he used modern classical compositions, including portions of the 1971 Cello Concerto by Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, as well as some original music by Jack Nitzsche. But the music was heard only during scene transitions. The 2000 "Version You've Never Seen" features new original music by Steve Boddacker, as well as brief source music by Les Baxter.

The original soundtrack LP has only been released once on CD, as an expensive and hard-to-find Japanese import. It is noteworthy for being the only soundtrack to include the main theme Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, which became very popular after the film's release, and the movement Night of the Electric Insects from George Crumb's string quartet Black Angels.

Filming locationsEdit

File:Exorcist Steps.jpg

The film's opening sequence was filmed in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. The people of Sinjar are mostly Kurdish members of the ancient Yezidi sect, which reveres Melek Taus, often being equated with the Devil[14] though Yazidis point out that this benevolent being has little in common with the Islamic and Christian Satan[15] The archaeological dig site seen at the beginning of the movie is the actual site of ancient Nineveh in Hatra.

The "Exorcist steps", stone steps at the end of M Street in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. were padded with 1/2"-thick rubber to film the death of Karras. The stunt man tumbled down the stairs twice. Georgetown University students charged people around $5 each to watch the stunt from the rooftops.

The MacNeil residence interiors were filmed at CECO Studios in Manhattan. The bedroom set had to be refrigerated to capture the authentic icy breath of the actors in the exorcizing scenes, while the bedroom scenes along with many other scenes were filmed in the basement of Fordham University in New York. The temperature was brought so low that a thin layer of snow fell onto the set one morning. Blair, who was only in a thin nightgown, says to this day she cannot stand being cold.[16] Exteriors of the MacNeill house were filmed at 36th and Prospect in Washington, using a family home and a false wall to convey the home's thrust toward the steps. In fact, both then and now, a garden sits atop the embankment between the steps and the home.

The interior of Karras' room at Georgetown was a meticulous reconstruction of Theology professor Father Thomas M. King, S.J.'s "corridor Jesuit" room in New North Hall. Fr. King's room was photographed by production staff after a visit by Blatty, a Georgetown graduate, and Friedkin. Upon returning to New York, every element of King's room, including posters and books, was recreated for the set, including a poster of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., a paleontologist on whom the character of Fr. Merrin was loosely based. Georgetown was paid $1,000 per day of filming, which included both exteriors, such as Burstyn's first scene, shot on the steps of the Flemish Romanasque Healy Hall, and interiors, such as the defilement of the statue of the Virgin Mary in Dahlgren Chapel, or the Archbishop's office, which is actually the office of the president of the university. One scene was filmed in The Tombs, a student hangout across from the steps that was founded by a Blatty classmate. The motion picture St. Elmo's Fire includes scenes filmed at The Tombs.

Urban legends and on-set incidentsEdit

Many of the film's participants claimed the film was cursed. Writer Blatty stated on video[17] that there were some strange occurrences during the filming. Lead actress Burstyn indicated some rumors are true in her 2006 autobiography Lessons in Becoming Myself. Due to a studio fire, the interior sets of the MacNeil residence (with the exception of Regan's bedroom) had to be rebuilt and caused a setback in pre-production. Friedkin claimed that a priest was brought in numerous times to bless the set. After difficulties encountered in the New York production, Blatty asked Fr. King (see reference above) to bless the Washington crew on its first day of filming at the foot of Lauinger Library's steps to 37th Street. The incident was recounted in Fr. King's 2009 Washington Post obituary. Other issues include Blair's harness breaking when she is thrashing on the bed causing permanent damage to the actor's spine. While filming the vaginal crucifix stabbing scene, Ellen Burstyn was seriously injured when the crew pulled her harness too hard after Blair hits her across the bedroom.

Irish actor Jack MacGowran died from influenza shortly after he filmed his role as director Burke Dennings. The son of Mercedes McCambridge killed himself, his wife, and children in a murder-suicide in 1987.[18]

Alternate and uncut versionsEdit

There have been several versions of The Exorcist released. The 1979 theatrical re-issue was reconverted to 70MM, with its 1.85:1 ratio modified to 2.20:1 to take advantage of the picture and audio fidelity 70MM offers. This was also the first time the sound was remixed to six-channel Dolby Stereo sound. Almost all video versions feature this soundtrack.

In both the TV-PG and TV-14 rated network versions, the image of the obscenely defiled statue of the Virgin Mary stays intact. It stays on screen several seconds longer for the TV-14 version. On original TV airings, the shot was replaced with one where the statue's face is smashed in but without other defilement.

The DVD released for the 25th Anniversary includes the original theatrical ending, and includes the extended ending with Father Dyer and Lt. Kinderman as a special feature (as opposed the "Version You've Never Seen" ending which features Dyer and Kinderman but omits the Casablanca reference). The Special Edition DVD also includes a 75-minute documentary titled The Fear of God on the making of The Exorcist (although PAL releases feature an edited, 52 minute version). The documentary includes screen tests and additional deleted scenes. The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology (box set) was released in October, 2006. This DVD collection includes the original theatrical release version The Exorcist; the extended version, The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen; the sequel with Linda Blair, Exorcist II: The Heretic; the supposed end of the trilogy, The Exorcist III; and two different prequels: Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. Morgan Creek, current owners of the franchise is now negotiating a cable television mini-series of the novel which is the basis for the original film written by Blatty.

The spider-walk sceneEdit

Contortionist Linda R. Hager performed the infamous spider-walk scene on April 11, 1973. Director Friedkin deleted this scene just prior to the original December 26, 1973 premiere because it was technically ineffective due to the visible wires suspending Hager in a backward-arched position as she descends the stairs. According to Friedkin, "I cut it when the film was first released because this was one of those effects that did not work as well as others, and I was only able to save it for the re-release with the help of computer graphic imagery."[19] Additionally, Friedkin considered that the spider-walk scene appeared too early in the film's plot and removed it despite screenplay writer William Peter Blatty's request that the scene remain.

In 1998, Warner re-released the digitally remastered DVD of The Exorcist: 25th Anniversary Special Edition. The DVD includes the BBC documentary, The Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist,[20] highlighting the never-before-seen original non-bloody variant of the spider-walk scene.

To appease the screenplay writer and some fans of The Exorcist, Friedkin worked with CGI artists to digitally remove the wires holding Hager. The director reinstated the bloody variant of the spider-walk scene for the 2000 theatrically re-released version of The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen.

In October 2010, Warner released The Exorcist (Extended Director's Cut & Original Theatrical Edition) on Blu-ray that includes the behind-the-scenes filming of the spider-walk scene.

Sequels and related filmsEdit

After the film's success, a string of remakes and sequels appeared. John Boorman's Exorcist II: The Heretic was released in 1977, and re-visited Regan four years after her initial ordeal. The plot dealt with an investigation into the legitimacy of Father Merrin's exorcism of Regan in the first film. In flashback sequences we see Regan giving Merrin his fatal heart attack, as well as scenes from the exorcism of a young boy named Kokumo in Africa many years earlier. The film was so sharply criticized that Director John Boorman re-edited the film immediately after its premiere. Both versions have now been released on video; the cut version on VHS and the original uncut version now on DVD.

The Exorcist III appeared in 1990, written and directed by Blatty himself from his own 1983 novel Legion. Jumping past the events of Exorcist II, this book and film presented a continuation of the story of Father Karras. Following the precedent set in The Ninth Configuration, Blatty turned a minor character from the first film — in this case, Lt. Kinderman — into the chief protagonist. Though the characters of Karras and Kinderman were acquainted during the murder investigation in The Exorcist and Kinderman expressed fondness for Karras, in Exorcist III Blatty has Kinderman remembering Karras as his best friend.

A prequel film attracted attention and controversy even before its release in 2004. It went through a number of directorial and script changes, such that two versions were ultimately released. John Frankenheimer was originally hired as director for the project, but withdrew before filming started due to health concerns. He died a month later. Paul Schrader replaced him. Upon completion the studio rejected Schrader's version as being too slow. Renny Harlin was then hired as director. Harlin reused some of Schrader's footage but shot mostly new material to create a more conventional horror film. Harlin's new version Exorcist: The Beginning was released, but was not well received. Nine months later Schrader's original version, retitled Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, was given a small theatrical release. It received better, but still mostly negative, critical responses. Both films are now available on DVD. Like Exorcist III, both films made significant changes from the original storyline. The plot of these films centered on an exorcism that Father Merrin had performed as a young priest in Africa, many years prior to the events in The Exorcist. This exorcism was first referenced in The Exorcist, and was shown in flashback in the first sequel Exorcist II: The Heretic. Although the plots for both Beginning and Dominion were similar, they both deviated significantly from the original version of the story, making no effort to be faithful the details presented in the earlier films.

In November 2009, it was announced that Blatty planned to direct a mini-series of The Exorcist.[21][22]

A made-for-television film, Possessed (based on the book of the same name by Thomas B. Allen), was broadcast on Showtime on October 22, 2000, directed by Steven E. de Souza and written by de Souza and Michael Lazarou. The film claimed to follow the true accounts that inspired Blatty to write The Exorcist and starred Timothy Dalton, Henry Czerny, and Christopher Plummer.

Blatty directed The Ninth Configuration, a post-Vietnam War drama set in a mental institution. Released in 1980, it was based on Blatty's novel of the same name. Though it contrasts sharply with the tone of The Exorcist, Blatty regards Configuration as its true sequelTemplate:Citation needed. The lead character is the astronaut from Chris' party, Lt. Cutshaw.

Other filmsEdit

The success of The Exorcist was followed by a string of possession related films. The first was Beyond the Door, a 1974 Italian film with Juliet Mills as a woman possessed by the devil. It appeared in the U.S. one year later. Also in 1974, a Turkish film, Şeytan (Turkish for Satan; the original film was also shown with the same name), is almost a scene-by-scene remake of the original. It has gained a reputation among cult movie enthusiasts as the "Turkish Exorcist". That same year, the German film Magdalena, vom Teufel besessen was also released with an exorcism plot. In 1976, the British released The Devil Within Her (also called I Don't Want to Be Born) with Joan Collins as an exotic dancer who gives birth to a demon-possessed child.

Similarly, a blaxploitation film was also released in 1974 titled Abby. While the films Şeytan and Magdalena, vom Teufel besessen were protected from prosecution by the laws of their countries of origin, the makers of Abby (filmed in Louisiana) were sued by Warner. The film was pulled from theaters, but not before making $4 million at the box office.

A parody, Repossessed, was released the same year as The Exorcist III, with Blair lampooning the role she played in the original.

Home mediaEdit

A limited edition box set was released in 1998; it was limited to 50,000 copies, with available copies circulating around the Internet. There are two versions; a special edition VHS and a special edition DVD. The only difference between the two copies is the recording format.

DVD features
  • The original film with restored film and digitally remastered audio, with a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio.
  • An introduction by director Friedkin
  • The 1998 BBC documentary The Fear of God: The Making of "The Exorcist"
  • 2 audio commentaries
  • Interviews with the director and writer
  • Theatrical trailers and TV spots

Box features
  • A commemorative 52-page tribute book, covering highlights of the film's preparation, production, and release; features previously-unreleased historical data and archival photographs
  • Limited edition soundtrack CD of the film's score, including the original (unused) soundtrack ("Tubular Bells" and "Night of the Electric Insects" omitted)
  • 8 lobby card reprints
  • Exclusive senitype film frame (magnification included)


In an interview with DVD Review, Friedkin mentioned that he was scheduled to begin work on a 'The Exorcist' Blu-ray on December 2, 2008.[23] This edition features a new restoration, including both the 1973 theatrical version and the 2000 "Version You've Never Seen".[24] It was released on 5 October 2010.[25][26]


US critical receptionEdit

Upon its December 26, 1973 release, the film received mixed reviews from critics, "ranging from ‘classic’ to ‘claptrap'."[27] Stanley Kauffmann, in The New Republic, wrote, "This is the scariest film I’ve seen in years — the only scary film I’ve seen in years…If you want to be shaken — and I found out, while the picture was going, that that’s what I wanted — then The Exorcist will scare the hell out of you."[28] Variety noted that it was "an expert telling of a supernatural horror story…The climactic sequences assault the senses and the intellect with pure cinematic terror."[29] In Castle of Frankenstein, Joe Dante stated, "[A]n amazing film, and one destined to become at the very least a horror classic. Director Friedkin’s film will be profoundly disturbing to all audiences, especially the more sensitive and those who tend to 'live' the movies they see…Suffice it to say, there has never been anything like this on the screen before."[30]

However, Vincent Canby, writing in the New York Times, dismissed The Exorcist as "a chunk of elegant occultist claptrap…[A] practically impossible film to sit through…it establishes a new low for grotesque special effects..."[31] Andrew Sarris complained that "Friedkin’s biggest weakness is his inability to provide enough visual information about his characters…whole passages of the movie’s exposition were one long buzz of small talk and name droppings…The Exorcist succeeds on one level as an effectively excruciating entertainment, but on another, deeper level it is a thoroughly evil film."[32] Writing in Rolling Stone, Jon Landau felt the film was, "[N]othing more than a religious porn film, the gaudiest piece of shlock this side of Cecil B. DeMille (minus that gentleman’s wit and ability to tell a story) …"[33]

Numerous of audiences have reported to have fainted during the movie, and went to therapy. Ellen Burstyn had said in an interview that while filming her successful Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, she took the crew to see the film as a gift. She said that the audience did not faint with the vomiting scene or any other, but the needle in the neck. She saw a woman fainting on the aisle and she and other people came to help her. As Burstyn did that, she realized that if the woman saw her, she(the woman)would faint or possibly have a heart attack. Also, Burstyn said that while watching the news, it said that a long line was outside a theater and that it was blizzard waiting to see the film. None of the cast or crew thought this movie would have such an effect on audiences.

Over the years, The ExorcistTemplate:'s critical reputation has grown considerably. The film currently has an 84% "Certified Fresh" approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, based on 40 reviews the website collected.[34] Some critics regard it as being one of the best and most effective horror films of all time; admirers say the film balances a stellar script, gruesome effects, and outstanding performances.[35] Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel placed it in the top five films released that year.[36] However, the movie has its detractors as well, including Kim Newman who has criticized it for messy plot construction, conventionality and overblown pretentiousness, among other perceived defects. Writer James Baldwin provides an extended negative critique in his book length essay The Devil Finds Work.Template:Citation needed Director Martin Scorsese placed The Exorcist on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.[37] In 2008, the film was selected by Empire Magazine as one of The 500 Greatest Movies Ever Made.[38] It was also placed on a similar list of 1000 movies by The New York Times.[39]

Box officeEdit

The film earned $66.3 million in distributors' domestic (US/CAN) rentals during its theatrical release in 1974, becoming the second most popular film of that year (trailing The Sting).[40] After several reissues, the film eventually grossed $232,671,011 in the North America,[41] which if adjusted for inflation, would be the 9th highest grossing film of all time and the top-grossing R-rated film of all time.[42] To date, it has a total gross of $441,071,011 worldwide.[41]

UK receptionEdit

In the United Kingdom, the film was included in the "video nasty" phenomenon of the early 1980s. Although it had been released uncut for home video in 1981, this was prior to the implementation of the Video Recording Act 1984. When the Act came into force, Warner Bros. decided against submitting it to the BBFC for a rating following the 'Video Nasties' scare. It is a widely-reported myth that the BBFC banned the film, but it was never rejected by them.

Following a successful re-release in cinemas in 1998, the film was submitted for home video release for the first time in February 1999 [43] and was passed uncut with an 18 certificate rating, signifying a relaxation of the censorship rules with relation to home video in the UK. The film was shown on terrestrial television in the UK for the first time in 2001, on Channel 4.[44]

Special effects and audience receptionEdit

The Exorcist contained a number of special effects, engineered by makeup artist Dick Smith. Roger Ebert, while praising the film, believed the effects to be so unusually graphic he wrote, "That it received an R rating and not the X is stupefying."[45]

Theaters provided "Exorcist barf bags".[46]

Because of death threats against Blair, Warner hired bodyguards to protect her for six months after the film's release.[16]

Warner Bros. would not allow pictures or scenes of fully possessed Regan to be shown on TV or in magazines (except for American Cinematographer, which was a trade publication aimed at film makers) for years. Only fleeting glimpses of the possessed Regan could be seen in trailers and TV spots, if at all.Template:Fact A news magazine failed to "get the memo" and used pictures of possessed Regan taken off a movie screen to be used in an interview with Linda Blair. Warner Bros. was not pleased. Those that did "get the memo", like Famous Monsters magazine, hired artists to do illustrations of possessed Regan that could be used. Another magazine actually commissioned a makeup artist to do a similar makeup so they could take pictures. The prohibition on seeing fully possessed Regan unless one buys a ticket for the movie not only helped to sell them but also assisted in buzz of it being so horrifying that many could not take not only the movie but seeing pictures of the possessed girl.Template:Fact

In recent years, the possessed face of Regan was commonly used in The Scary Maze Game, a browser game that serves as a practical joke by displaying her face to those who fail to complete a level.

Alleged subliminal imageryEdit

The Exorcist was also at the center of controversy due to its alleged use of subliminal imagery. Wilson Bryan Key wrote a whole chapter on the movie in his book "Media Sexploitation" alleging multiple uses of subliminal and semi-subliminal imagery and sound effects. From the now common knowledge use of the Pazuzu face (in which Key mistakingly assumed it was Jason Miller made up in a death mask makeup) to more far fetched claims of asserting the safety padding on the bedposts were so shaped to cast phalic shadows on the wall and that a skull face is superimposed into one of breath clouds of Father Merrin. Key also wrote much about the sound design, identifying the use of pig squeals, for instance, and elaborating on his opinion of the subliminal intent of it all. A detailed article in the July/August 1991 issue of Video Watchdog examined the phenomenon, providing still frames identifying several usages of subliminal "flashing" throughout the film.[47] In an interview from the same issue, Friedkin explained, "I saw subliminal cuts in a number of films before I ever put them in The Exorcist, and I thought it was a very effective storytelling device... The subliminal editing in The Exorcist was done for dramatic effect — to create, achieve, and sustain a kind of dreamlike state."[48] However, these quick, scary flashes have been labeled "[not] truly subliminal".[49] and "quasi-" or "semi-subliminal".[50] True subliminal imagery must be, by definition, below the threshold of awareness.[51][52][53][54] In an interview in a 1999 book about the film, The Exorcist author Blatty addressed the controversy by explaining that, "There are no subliminal images. If you can see it, it's not subliminal."[55]

Awards and honorsEdit

Academy AwardsEdit

The Exorcist was nominated for a total of ten Academy Awards in 1973, winning two.[56] At the 46th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, the film won two statuettes (highlighted in bold).[57]

The film was nominated for:

Golden Globe AwardsEdit

The Exorcist was nominated for a total of seven Golden Globes in 1973. At the 31st Golden Globes ceremony that year, the film won four awards.

The film was nominated for

American Film InstituteEdit

Library of CongressEdit


Template:Citation style

  1. Template:Cite book
  2. Template:Cite book
  5. Entertainment Weekly, "The 25 Scariest Movies of All Time"
  6., "Get Repossessed With the Exorcist Movies"
  7. Template:Cite journal
  8. Template:Cite web
  9. Template:Cite web
  10. The Exorcist (1973) - Plot summary
  11. Fate magazine. January 1975.
  12. The Fear of God
  13. [1] Strangemag
  16. 16.0 16.1 Friedkin's - The Exorcist
  17. Youtube.comTemplate:Dead link
  18. USA Today Obituary of Mercedes McCambridge. Accessed December 20, 2010.
  19. Template:Cite news
  20. The Exorcist 25th Anniversary Special Edition
  21. Template:Cite web
  22. Cemetery Dance #62: The William Peter Blatty special issue shipping now!
  24. The Exorcist Announced on Blu-ray
  25. Template:Cite web
  26. The Exorcist releasing on Blu-ray in October 2010
  27. Travers, Peter and Rieff, Stephanie. The Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’, Pg. 149, Signet Books, 1974. ISBN 978-0451062079
  28. Kauffmann, Stanley. New Republic review reprinted in The Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’, written by Peter Travers and Stephanie Rieff, pgs. 152 - 154, Signet Books, 1974. ISBN 978-0451062079
  29. Template:Cite news
  30. Dante, Joe. Castle of Frankenstein, Vol 6, No. 2 (Whole Issue #22), pgs. 32-33. Review of The Exorcist
  31. Canby, Vincent. New York Times review reprinted in The Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’, written by Peter Travers and Stephanie Rieff, pgs. 150 - 152, Signet Books, 1974. ISBN 978-0451062079
  32. Sarris, Andrew. Village Voice review reprinted in The Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’, written by Peter Travers and Stephanie Rieff, pgs. 154–158, Signet Books, 1974. ISBN 978-0451062079
  33. Landau, Jon. Rolling Stone review reprinted in The Story Behind ‘The Exorcist’, written by Peter Travers and Stephanie Rieff, pgs. 158 - 162, Signet Books, 1974. ISBN 978-0451062079
  34. Template:Cite web
  36. [2]
  37. Template:Cite web
  39. Template:Cite news
  40. Gebert, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Movie Awards (listings of 'Box Office (Domestic Rentals)' for 1974, taken from Variety magazine), pg. 314, St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1996. ISBN 0-668-05308-9. "Rentals" refers to the distributor/studio's share of the box office gross, which, according to Gebert, is normally roughly half of the money generated by ticket sales.
  41. 41.0 41.1 Template:Cite web
  42. Template:Cite web
  43. Original entry
  44. Template:Cite news
  45. :: :: Reviews :: The Exorcist (xhtml)
  46. Screen shockers | Independent, The (London) | Find Articles at
  47. Lucas, Tim and Kermode, Mark. Video Watchdog Magazine, issue #6 (July/August 1991), pgs. 20 - 31, "The Exorcist: From the Subliminal to the Ridiculous"
  48. Friedkin, William. Interviewed in Video Watchdog Magazine, issue #6 (July/August 1991), pg. 23, "The Exorcist: From the Subliminal to the Ridiculous"
  49. Template:Cite web
  50. Template:Cite web
  51. Template:Cite web
  52. Template:Cite web
  53. Template:Cite web
  54. Template:Cite web)
  55. Template:Cite book
  56. Template:Cite web
  57. Template:Cite news
  58. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  59. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees
  60. AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot

External linksEdit


Template:The Exorcist Template:William Friedkin Template:GoldenGlobeBestMotionPictureDrama 1961-1980 Template:Saturn Award for Best Horror Film 1972–1990ar:طارد الأرواح الشريرة (فيلم) ca:L'exorcista da:Eksorcisten de:Der Exorzist el:Ο Εξορκιστής es:El exorcista (película) fa:جن‌گیر (فیلم) fr:L'Exorciste gl:O exorcista (filme) hy:Սատանա քշողը (ֆիլմ) hr:Egzorcist (1973) id:The Exorcist it:L'esorcista he:מגרש השדים hu:Az ördögűző nl:The Exorcist (film) ja:エクソシスト (映画) no:Exorcisten pl:Egzorcysta (film) pt:O Exorcista ru:Изгоняющий дьявола sh:The Exorcist (film) fi:Manaaja (elokuva) sv:Exorcisten ta:த எக்சோர்சிஸ்ட் (திரைப்படம்) tr:Şeytan (film, 1973) zh:大法師

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.