A friend of mine, who is just as crazy about horror movies as I am, once challenged me to find a movie scarier than The Exorcist. I accepted the challenge. For the next two months, we would watch two horror movies every Wednesday, until the final event, which would be a viewing of The Exorcist on a huge screen.
We watched everything, from the newest movies, to the oldest movies. And in the end, my friend was right. The Exorcist is the most disturbing and frightening movie of all time.
Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist of 1973 still haunts and disturbs people. Here is a list of ingredients that make this the ultimate horror classic.
- Seemingly harmless, but repetitive soundtrack that stays in your head forever
- A Lot of Catholicism (people who are very religious have a hard time with this film and take possession very seriously)
- Innocent Pubescent Girl Playing With Ouija Board (who ends up paying for it big time)
- Jesuit Priest With Eternal Guilt Complex
- Horrible Mesopotamian Demon Named Pazuzu Who Calls Himself the Devil
- Another Jesuit Priest Who Has Battled the Same Demon Before
- The Same Innocent Pubescent Girl Getting Possessed by Pazuzu
- Possessed Girl Speaking in Various Demonic Voices
- Possessed Girl Hurling Vomit
- Possessed Girl Uttering Unspeakable Obcenties
- Possessed Girl Raping Herself With A Crucifix
- Possessed Girl Crawling Backwards Down The Stairs
- Possessed Girl's Head Turning Around 360 Degrees
- Possessed Girl Levitating and The Priest's Prayers Lowering Her Back to the Bed
- Priests killed as a result of the exorcism
- Girl, now unpossessed, who will never be the same again and who will thank every priest she will ever see for as long as she lives
There Is Nothing Funny About The Exorcist
I had seen the Freddie Kruger movies, and Halloween and Friday the 13th. And the thing they all shared was a certain humor. They have teenagers having sex and getting slashed, and for some reason you don't care, but in the Exorcist, something crawls under your skin and continues to haunt you.
The religious aspect of the movie is frankly why it is so terrifying. There have been many so-called documented cases of possession, and this story capitalizes on some of the most sensational stories ever recorded on the topic. Many possessed people, so the stories say, have been very religious people who were tested by demons. In this film, the demon haunts a vulnerable soul and tortures it almost to death out of convenience and in the hope of vanquishing its last foe. It centers on an innocent girl who is suddenly speaking in unearthly voices and torturing her own body by flailing violently and refusing to take nourishment.
The movie has very few special effects, and relies on a certain amount of scepticism and then reliance on religion to deliver it from its seemingly inevitable bad ending. And by the end, it's only the priests who seem to have a chance of saving the girl, but even then, you're not so sure.
In the movie, a single mother, who happens to be a movie star, moves with her daughter to a rented house in Georgetown while filming a movie. When the movie opens and you are in Georgetown, you are treated to noises coming out of the attic which are dismissed as 'rats'. We are next introduced to the loving mother and daughter. The scene is a picture of warmth. Next, the daughter shows the mother the ouijia board she found in the basement and explains how it works.
Then the mom has a party and among the guests is an astronaut. As the hostess, guests and local priest are singing around the piano, the daughter comes downstairs, tells the astronaut, "Your'e gonna die up there", and urinates on the carpet.
After this event, the girl descends into odd behavior, punctuated by a shaking bed, sleeplessness and lots of extreme profanity.
The doctors do every test they can think of. And in fact, it is pretty obvious that the tests are at times so invasive (think of the spinal tap scene) that the girl is already being tortured before the demon has taken complete hold of her.
After weeks of this, the mother takes the hint from a doctor that tells her there is no more they can do to cure her of her demon voices, horrible smells and preternatural strength, except to restrain her in bed and feed her with a tube. And that maybe in this case, they should consider getting an Exorcism.
When To Know That You Are Possessed
The baffled mother reaches out to Father Damian Karras, the nearest Jesuit priest who hears her out, but initially refuses to do anything until she reveals the bruises she's received from her daughter and he discerns the utter fear and despair in her voice. He willingly goes to their house to try to dismiss the idea.
When he gets there the girl is obviously ill and disturbed. She is restrained, her skin is green and her voice has a deep, animalistic tone. Worse, the possessed girl says things to the priest of a personal nature that nobody else would know. In fact, he is pretty convinced at this point that there is a case of possession.
He takes the case to his superiors, who are also sceptical. One of the things they want to know is if the girl is speaking in strange languages. In the course of his investigation into the matter, Father Karras had taken a recording of his session with the girl and when he listened to it backwards, discovered that the girl was speaking English in reverse, and that she was calling out the name Merrin. The higher - up priests, upon hearing this, reveal that this Merrin is a priest who also used to perform exorcisms.
Meanwhile, back in Georgetown, the girl's behavior becomes even more disturbing. Her speechless mother watches her possessed daughter stab herself over and over again in the vagina with a crucifix, and is horrified when the daughter suddenly crawls down the stairs in a contorted way, much like an upside down crab. While the mother and the babysitter are out, a family friend is pushed out the window, falling to a violent death, and the mother is positive that it's her daughter who is responsible.
When father Karras hears this, he knows that it's time for an excorism.
What An Excellent Day For An Exorcism
During the most iconic moment of the film, father we see Father Lancester Merrin (played by Max von Sydow), arrive at the house on a foggy night. You know that he means business.
Father Karras attempts to explain the situation to him, but it's clear that Merrin knows what he is up against. He warns Karras that the demon will do what it can to confuse them and they must not listen to it.
The demon seems pleased to see father Merrin. Merrin gets right to work preparing for the Holy Ritual, ignoring the demon's gleeful attempts to distract the priest. This includes being vomited upon most violently by the possessed girl. Father Karras helps out Merrin, who is quickly worn out by the exorcism and this meeting with the familiar foe.
The exorcism becomes so antagonistic, that Merrin orders Karras out of the room. When Karras comes back to check on Merrin, he discovers that Merrin has dropped dead of a heart attack from his efforts.
Karras becomes enraged. He attacks the demon/possessed girl and shakes it violently. In the process, he tells the demon to take him instead. The demon obliges and as soon as we see Karras inhabited by the demon (because his eyes suddenly change), he jumps out of the window, (the same window that killed the family friend) and plummets down the stairs to his death outside of the window. Karras lies there alive long enough for another priest to get there and say his last rites.
The girl, meanwhile is discovered soon after, relieved of the demonic possession and crying in the corner of the room.
The Exorcist Extended Edition (The Version You've Never Seen)
Scary For Many Reasons
If you were raised with any sort of religion, it would explain why the movie may be scary to you. I was born and raised Catholic, and because of that, the premise of a demon inhabiting the flesh of a person, no matter how far-fetched, is still within the realm of possibility.
Most people have at least seen, or maybe even played with a ouija board at some point or another, and there are many of us who may be intrigued by some aspect of the occult.
The demon is not just some crazy demon from nowhere. We are introduced to the demon Pazuzu in the beginning of the movie. Pazuzu is a Mesoptamian demon, and when the movie first opens, Father Merrin is in the middle of an archaeological dig in Iraq, which is smack in the middle of where ancient Mesopotamia used to be. He finds a small statue of the demon, and this sets the stage for what is to come. This is actually spelled out much more clearly in the book.
Another reason why the movie is so scary is the attention William Friedkin, the director, places on detail. When the girl is at her possessed worst, her bedroom is as cold as a freezer, and everyone who walks in must don a winter coat, and you can see the vapor come out of their mouths when they speak. If you read about the making of the movie, one of the things you learn is that the film set was an actual freezer and there was no reliance on special effects.
And there is something so inherently frightening about a twelve year-old girl hurling the kind of obcenities that come out of her mouth.
Although this film was made in the seventies and is devoid of vampires, and crazed men in hockey masks who run around slashing everyone, the premise of this poor, victimized girl and the havoc raised by this demon has stayed with me forever. This is why The Exorcist is still so scary.
Agree Or Disagree
Laura Smith from Pittsburgh, PA on October 30, 2018:
I definitely agree. I was raised Catholic but didn't know about exorcisms until I was about 10, and my mom talked about this movie. When I expressed an interest in watching it myself, my parents, though they didn't ban me from watching it, spoke about it as if the movie itself was evil. My mom talked about seeing it in theaters and being afraid to sleep at night for a long time afterward, and my dad, who is usually unfazed by horror movies, said that he has never, and will never, watch it uncut. They talked about friends of theirs that watched the movie and passed out or vomited and how that was a pretty common reaction among audiences at the time. That made me even more curious so I borrowed a copy of the movie from a friend, and I watched it in the middle of the day with my sister. Some of the effects are very outdated, but it's really more about the tone and the thoughts that the movie leaves you with that cements it as the scariest of all time. I think that's true of most possession movies, but for some reason, this one just gets into your head and stays there. Knowing that Catholicism recognizes possessions as truth just adds to its reputation. It's a really well made film, and in the end, good does triumph over evil, but I will probably never watch it again.
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 12, 2017:
What a great topic for an article. It's a discussion that my friends and I have had many times and, I am sure, will have many more times. Many of my friends are filmmakers and writers and there is a rift between who thinks The Exorcist is frightening and which ones think it is over-hyped. They are most surprised when I tell them that I think it is a very effective horror movie. They know that I am not a religious person and so they are confused by why I think this movie works so well. I try to explain to them that, if the girl really is possessed by a demon then that is terrifying. To have your own person taken control of by an entity that can make you do whatever it wants and does not care about your well being is disturbing to me. And if the girl is really not possessed and the whole incident is in her head somehow, then it may be even more frightful. Good topic and a well done article. Bravo.
Madison Cavanaugh on August 05, 2017:
Wonderful explanation breakdown on why the "Exorcist" is the most frightening film ever made. I watched the 2nd release with him here in Hollywood. I felt a bit different than the first time, of course,
but the added scenes did not upset me for some reason. Interesting, without the sound system, it was
a lot less frightening as well. Nevertheless, it's a piece of work! I went and saw his wife recently as she's
got a book about her career out and she never mentions this particular film in it. However, she does list The French Connection and the few others he directed. I understand that he was kind of blacklisted in regard to getting other projects, but that also had to do with that film he did with Pacino that didn't go over too well. I personally feel one of the really disturbing aspects of The Exorcist is its sadistic nature. He said to me, "You take away from it what ever you brought with you." I guess that's what we all did! So, in the end, it would be a film of artistic integrity. Btw, it's very interesting that Linda wound up saving pit bulls in Toluca Lake. Wonder who she's trying to save? Great blog, Kikibruce!
Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on March 06, 2017:
Ouija boards are very dangerous, I don't mind using it for a fictitious story, but I wouldn't want to play with them. The basic special effects and make-up on Linda Blair was spectacular. Some people laugh at it, because they refuse to belief in demon possession and it's more comforting to them. It's one of my favorite horror movies. I think great acting story made the movie. The screenplay is as honest a representation of a novelists' work you'll ever see. The major characters make me care about the demon possessed girl. They are caring and believable, and that's why this film is far above most horror flicks. It makes all the scary stuff more effective.
Ced Yong from Asia on June 14, 2016:
I've read somewhere before that the real terror of The Exorcist, was how it violated the values we are taught since young. Regan did nothing wrong, so she didn't "deserve" the ordeal. She was utterly innocent, so to speak, and Paz simply picked her out out of the blue to be a vessel. That's why it's so disturbing. Why anything the possessed Regan did was so horrific.
unforgotten46 on February 05, 2015:
I was a little girl when I first seen this move and ironically it was taken place at my church at the time (International House of Prayer). Prior to us watching the Bishop asked the parents to bring all the children the room where a TV was in the middle and chairs where lined up for us to sit. Before the Bishop pressed play he said “This is what happens when children don’t obey”. Now I must admit I watched the whole movie with the rest of the children and mid-way in the movie…everyone was crying…including myself. From that day forward I cannot shake that image of her in my head. It’s like randomly messing with my head. Like for instance I was around 7-8 when I watched this movie and now I’m 36 and still like if I’m in Wal-mart especially around Halloween. I can be walking around and out of nowhere in the corner of my eye I see that darn case of her staring with those eyes. And man talking about someone that can’t sleep…..If I’m not snuggled up with my partner, I will not go to bed by myself.
Jennifer Pena from California on December 16, 2014:
Interesting article about the movie and I did not know about half of the facts that you mentioned.
Dave on October 18, 2014:
The Exorcist works because it concentrates on two strands of faith, the belief in evil, and the belief that evil can be cast out, these two strands form the basis of this story, and can be deemed the reason for it's impact, if we look at the story, you will notice it is unlike any other possession movie, before or since, it is real, it is almost a documentary narrative on the events unfolding in front of us in it's approach, the characters which appear in the story, are people we may encounter in our everyday lives, the situation of a young girl left to her own devices is similar in many homes, we can relate to it, we are not outside looking in, we are there, right in the middle of this maelstrom, the heavy religious overtones add to it's raw power, particularly in the Catholic church, who to this day still regard the film as a corruptible force, and I believe it is, upon it's release, people were fainting, they couldn't sit through the full screening, beyond that, there was a rise in interest in the Occult, the Ouija board had become a tool of evil, and young people were warned not to dabble with it,
I am a massive fan of the film, I have seen it in excess of a hundred times, I have watched it in cinema's, at home, at friends houses, but the most chilling environment I watched it, was in a Church, yes, a church, a local priest allowed it to be screened in his church, believing that by the many who came to watch it, would be so affected they would willingly attend church afterwards, I don't know about that, but the screening went ahead, two large speakers were set up on the Altar and a large screen erected on a tripod stand, the customers paid £2 to watch the film, the pews became the seats, the lights dimmed, and the only light was that emanating from the screen, and minimal illumination filtering through the stained glass windows, the movie continued, and the church was filled with gutteral sounds and blasphemous obscenities, you could hear audible gasps from some attendees, some went outside for air, the film took on a whole new frightening perspective, here we were in the house of God, and being entertained by the Devil, or an entity which was as malevolent as Satan himself, a demon of a higher order of demons, Pazuzu, it's iconography describes it as being lord of the scorching winds, bringing famine and disease, horned, taloned, winged, with a saturnine face, Pazuzu was a personification of evil, after the film ended, the lights went up, and the priest addressed the audience, intimating that anyone who has been adversely affected by the film, his ministry was available, he offered a reason as to why he was allowed to show the film in the church, it was, he said, because of a falling away of morals in society, a growing undermining of what the church stands for, and how the church is more than a place of worship, it was also a way to show that there are dark forces which aren't fully understood, and which the church plays a prominent part in dealing with such things, he mentioned that there are practising Exorcists, who offer their ministries to all manner of people, for all manner of reasons, the kind of demonic possession as depicted in the film isn't as far fetched as it appears, but I accept that an amount of artistic license was at play, but the effects of such a condition cannot be underplayed, he thanked us for attending and hoped we didn't suffer nightmares and such like, and again offered his counsel if needed,
The question of whether good prevailed in the film is always asked, I don't think it did, two priests were killed, along with another character, Burke Dennings, the possessed girl, Regan, although being freed physically from the possession was still tormented by Pazuzu, having flashbacks and visitations, as touched upon in the sequel, The Heretic, how could one forget being possessed by an ancient demon, the nightmare of it would live with you forever, The Exorcist goes beyond being merely a horror movie, it is a commentary on many of the ills that beset us in our lives, a collapse of morals, the break up of family, and the over-riding question of faith, all of these things added to the pervading sense of evil attached to the film, a sense of foreboding, which still is as tangible today for those who have yet to watch it.
kikibruce (author) from New York on October 23, 2013:
One of the Dario Argento movies you mentioned is actually "Suspiria", and it is one of my faves. I have seen all of the ones that you mentioned, but stand by the Exorcist. I really enjoy exploring horror movies from other countries as well (French, Korean, Japanese), but I never really got into "The Walking Dead", personally.
Pete Digons from Charlotte, North Carolina on October 22, 2013:
I'm 46 years old. The last time I saw The Exorcist was around 2005 - it was the extended edition. It was probably the 4th or 5th time I've watched it. I must admit, it is a really great movie, with a great cast - however, I don't find it at all scary these days. It hasn't aged well as far as "scares" are concerned. Compared to some of the (relatively) newer movies (post 1973), it just seems dated and corny, and not really scary anymore. I guess I'm just jaded being the horror geek that I am. It's extremely rare that a movie will scare me at all anymore, though seeing "Insidious" recently I was unexpectedly and pleasantly surprised at how creeped out I was by that film. "Sinister" and "The Conjuring" were good scares as well. And the first "Scream" will always be one of my favorites. I'm also into weird horror movies like "Susperior" (1977) by Dario Argento - and "The Sentinel" (1977) by Michael Winner - and some H.P Lovecraft films (From Beyond and Re-animator). But as far as The Exorcist, it is still a great movie, with great writing and great acting - but to today's horror fans, I don't think it will scare them much - if at all. After all, one single episode of the intense, unbelievably graphic "Walking Dead" series will pretty much make every other horror movie look like a Disney movie in comparison. That's just my two cents.
anonymous on October 18, 2013:
The Exorcist continues to fascinate. The story is loosely based on the real life case of a possessed boy in Maryland and Washington D.C. in 1949. The boy meddled with wn ouija board which are said to invite non-human, demonic entities from other dimensions. This is what happens with Regan Macneil in the novel and movie The Exorcist. It was grueling torture to make this movie. Ellen Burstyn was actually injured during the scene when Regan slaps her and she is pulled by a harness. To simulate a demonic haunting which includes freezing temperatures, the actors had to endure below freezing temperatures by the special effects crews. Father Karras or the stuntman double playing him was injured in the scene where he falls down the stairs. They put padding on the steps to cushion the fall but it still caused injury. Linda Blair underwent hours having her face put in demon makeup and it must have been painful during those scenes when her bed jumped up and down and when she had to bend her torso. Its punishing on the human body. Filming this movie took almost a year beginning in 1972 and completed in the summer of 1973. By the time it made it to movie theaters, it was now the winter of 1973 to 1974. The prologue at the beginning of the movie in Northern Iraq where Father Merrin confronts the Pazuzu statue was actually the last scene to be filmed for this movie. The scenes were not filmed in 100 precent chronological order. Among the deleted scenes or restored scenes are the mother going to the attic with a candle and the unseen demon causes the flame of the candle to grow tenfold to scare her; the spiderwalk scene where Regan leaves her bedroom and scuttles down the stairs; and a scene when both priests take a break from the exorcism and Father Karras asks Father Merrin why this girl was chosen as a victim. The Exorcist spawned two sequels and two prequels making a total of five movies. Fans consider the first and original The Exorcist as the only one worth watching. Rumours exist that the original The Exorcist is going to be produced again as a remake. This remake will not be shown in theatres but will be part of a multi-episode television series. The Exorcist has inspired other movies such as Beyond the Door from 1974 starring Juliet Mills, Richard Johnson, and Gabriele Lavia where woman in San Francisco becomes pregnant with a demonic baby and becomes demonically possessed. Like Regan, she posseses telekinesis and curses and spits. Some say the demon Pazuzu possessed Regan. Others say Satan possessed her. Regan claims she's the Devil but this could be just a demon masqeurading as the Devil. I don't think demons are totally honest in what they say. Its the 40th anniversary of The Exorcist. This movie is immortal.
scottnyia on October 16, 2013:
When I first saw this movie I was about 6 or 7 and I was sick. I had threw up previously the day I watched it. IT WAS SO SCARY! I watched it with my mom and two sisters. I couldn't believe a movie could be that scary. When my sister bought the movie from ebay, I was about 14. Me and her watched it later that night. I WAS STILL SO SCARED! I mean, that movie is really terrifying. Even when I watch it now,( as I did about a week ago) I am still scared to where I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and grab my phone to light up the room sometimes. I agree 100 percent with the author. The movie is scary due part to the religious atmosphere. This is a movie that will never be forgotten because they went to the extreme without using buckets of blood and too much sex. I love this movie so much and it is way scarier than The Shining. I own the Shining and I watch it over and over again. The Shining is another movie that will never be forgotten. Back to The Exorcist...Yeah it takes me about 1 week to get over it now and I'm 17! The movies made now are boring and I feel they do not try hard enough to scare the viewer. I wish I could have seen this movie when it first came out in 1973. I have read that people wanted to ban it and that the UK put it on the Video Nasties List. I just really love this film and anyone who has never seen it please watch it!
MLayne on August 16, 2013:
I saw the Exorcist when it was on TV for the first time. I was determined to watch it, even though I knew it was going to scare me and I had been looking forward to it for days. When it finally started, I was glued to the t.v. I got about 1/2 way through the movie and decided that this was the biggest mistake I had ever made in my 8 years of life. I am from a very Catholic, very devout family. My grandmother went to Mass every day of the week, and sometimes I went more than twice a week myself. This movie, though brilliant, and by far the scariest movie ever made in my opinion, changed my life. After I saw it, I could not sleep for weeks. The first night was the worst. I begged my parents to let me sleep in their bed and they refused. Finally, my father took pity on me and stayed with me in my room that night. The next day, (in broad daylight, no less) I could not be in a room alone nor could I go one second without being horrified and afraid. I still can't look at the pictures or even watch a movie called "The Burbs" because it has a scene in it from The Exorcist. As an adult, I watched it again and was re-introduced to the terror but, another side of me found the movie to be inspiring, in a way, because, no matter how powerful the demon showed itself to be, just the mention of Jesus Christ was enough to put it into complete revulsion and the demon found its own terror and vulnerability. The prayers that were said by the priest who was so faithful and humble enabled him to be a conduit of God's love, which is the ultimate power. He saved the little girl by and with his faith, his love, and his willingness to sacrifice himself to bring God's love through to the innocent girl. The Exorcist was a good example of self sacrifice and the power of faith and love over evil. Similar to Jesus dying on the cross, the Exorcist laid down his life for another. I was also amazed at how the mother, an atheist, was the first to actually believe her daughter to be possessed and, she knew the demon was not human and ironically, she had to try and convince Father Karris: "You show me Regan's double: same face, same voice.. and I'd know it wasn't Regan. I'd know in my gut... and I am telling you that that thing upstairs in that bedroom is not my daughter". That, to me, is one of the most powerful scenes in the movie. Why did the mother have the first knowledge? Because no matter what was happening, the mother loved her daughter purely. She was a cursing foul mouthed bossy arrogant actress; and an atheist to boot; but, none of that mattered when it came down to it, because she loved her daughter. I love the way the movie emphasizes this: the love she had for her daughter was completely pure; and that is how she knew.
anonymous on June 18, 2013:
The Exorcist is still scary for several reasons. Its dealing with the unknown the supernatural and its dealing with demonic devilish Satanic forces. A cute cuddly loveable little girl played by Linda Blair is the focus. Shes as cute and as huggable as a teddy bear. Her personality is also cute and loveable. Unfortunately things are about to change for the worse. Linda or Regan is meddling with a ouija board which is considered demonic and dangerous. A sinister entity calling itself Captain Howdy communicates with her. This silly name is probably not the real name of this entity. This adorable girl transforms into a repulsive violent foul mouthed monster who curses spits and assaults anyone within reach. She kills a friend of her mothers known as Burke Dennings. Some say that the demon Pazuzu whose statue is shown at the prologue in Northern Iraq is what possesses her. Regan claims shes the Devil. Others say its an unknown demon posssessing her. Anyway she assaults and nearly kills her mother. Two Catholic priests are sent to perform an exorcism. Father Karrass is a younger priest whose faith has weakened. His elderly mother recently dies. A disturbing scene is when Karras has a nightmare where he sees himself running toward his elderly mother at a subway station. He never reaches her. She walks away down the stairs. A falling crucifix is shown. This may symbolize that events in his life are getting out of control. It shows he is losing and it shows helplessness and vulnerability in a cruel dangerous chaotic world. The elderly priest Father Merrin dies of a heart attack during the exorcism. Father Karras grabs Reagan in anger and tells the demon to enter him. It does so momentarily. The demon leaves Regan and now Father Karras is possessed. Karras decides to kill himself by jumping out a window. Regan is free but at a high price. She killed 3 people including 2 priests and injures and nearly kills her mother. God is supposed to win in this movie but it's a narrow victory at a high price. It looks more like the Devil won. At best its a draw with the problem unresolved. Why did God allow the demonic possession and all the horrific loathsome events to happen in the first place? Is demonic possession autosuggestion or mental illness? Does the huma mind have the ability to "create" or cause a demonic possession? Do demons come from a person's mind? Or do demons come out of nowhere? Do demons disappear into nothing after the possession ends? Or do demons reside in other dimensions? Pazuzu is believed to reside in the world as a wind demon. Regan possesses supernatural knowledge and levitates and is able to move objects by telekinesis. At one point Regan transforms herself into the elderly mother of Father Karras and speaks with the same voice. Its a ploy to confuse Father Karras. The demon inside Regan shows pure malevolence. Regan's voice or the demon's voice is scary as well. 40 years later The Exorcist is still scary. The moviemakers on this movie obviously took their job seriously. Demons demonic possession and Satanism are scary subjects. There is nothing more frightening than evil supernatural entities.
Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on June 11, 2013:
Nice hub, and I agree. The Exorcist would probably be my #2 favorite horror film, and it's still effective to this day.
kikibruce (author) from New York on April 27, 2013:
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing. I agree, there are many more. Seen most of them!
kikibruce (author) from New York on April 27, 2013:
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing. I agree, there are many more. Seen most of them!
Will English on April 07, 2013:
The fact that people are still frightened by this movie just proves how good it really is. But honestly I think that there are scarier films out there (Ju-on: The Grudge, Ringu and The Shining, anyone). Great hub though. *Shared*
Riviera Rose from South of France on March 25, 2013:
I still haven't seen The Exorcist (too scared!) but I listen a lot to the BBC film critic Mark Kermode, who is a world authority on the subject. It's the film that changed his life and set him on to film reviewing. (He's brilliant, well worth listening to podcasts of his show with Simon Mayo, Radio 5 Live). Although I feel I really should watch it one of these days, I'm just not good on horror, so really appreciated your breakdown, thanks!
Breatheeasy3 from USA on March 24, 2013:
I think that this movie has so much significance because of the special effects as most people have stated. With that, I have my own skepticism on the validity of certain things that transpired within the movie, where special effects had no play.
Studies have often shown that there is a parallel/paranormal world amongst ours. I think that this was played upon by writers, directors and actors without pondering on the lasting consequences. The scriptures even warn us about the evils of magic and sorcery and this movie delved into this act with uncertainty.
Listen to the very beginning of the movie for instance and take notice to what is being recited. It is an Islamic call to prayer. Now why would this happen at the very beginning of the movie? This surely was not done by accident. I was told by a very knowledged man that this call to prayer was made to ward off those demonic spirits from affecting viewers unknowingly. Just think about the many comments here that have a similar theme, that the movie has had a lasting affect on them still to this day.
Look at other movies like Poltergeist, where many deaths and unexplained paranormal activity transpired during and after the making of the film. I'd say that when you play the Devil's game, you better have a good hand, because he will call your bluff every time.
Melissa Propp from Minnesota on March 19, 2013:
I watched this movie on television when I was 8 years old (snuck downstairs and watched it with my big brother who was 16 years older than me). I was watching the sanitized tv version, but it still scared the crap out of me. I remember asking my brother why the demon possessed the little girl...He told me because she was "young and innocent". Holy crap! That was me! I was terrified for years....I still love horror movies, but the ones that really really freak me out are any that involve demon possession. Those are much scarier than any slasher film out there. Great hub!
Ilka on March 16, 2013:
Since I'm still freaked out but the fuzzy little creature in the original "Don't be afraid of the Dark", I don't know if I will ever be able to watch "The Exorcist". Especially if it is deemed as the scariest movie ever. I'm very grateful for this hub which allows me to seriously consider if I will watch and if so lets me know what I would be getting myself into if I do!
kikibruce (author) from New York on March 12, 2013:
Gosh folks, thank you so much for your brilliant feedback. Alastar Packer, I totally agree with you. The movie definitely taps into something. This is one reason why I hate watching it alone.
KenWu from Malaysia on March 12, 2013:
I've seen this movie long time ago. And it reminds me to watch it over again. I've quite forgotten the content of the movie overall so can't figure out if it is that scary.
Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on March 12, 2013:
The demon Pazuzu really made the movie scary!
Alastar Packer from North Carolina on March 12, 2013:
Let's see. The writer Blattey had CIA connections and their Project MK-Ultra or similar my have been a part of this movie. There can be no doubt the movie produces something that goes deeper and longer lasting into the psyche than the usual screams and then it's over horror flick. It also probably reaches into our collective unconscious in some fashion as well with the good vs evil. Nothing proven beyond a doubt here just something to be aware of or consider.
Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on March 12, 2013:
I was brought up a catholic, too. I read the book and saw the movie. I was really scared after I read the book. The thought of being possessed by a demon is real scary! My sister and I went and saw the movie on the big screen. I was really scared! It was creepy how the possessed girl went crawling down the stairs upside down-it looked so unatural. I really like "The Shining" a lot and love watching it. Poltergeist was a good movie and that's a good one to watch, too. There are some horror movies that I like to watch over and over again.
kikibruce (author) from New York on February 09, 2013:
Thank you so much for your comment. Just so you know, I think one of my next hubs will be about Suspiria. Stay tuned!
Helen Murphy Howell from Fife, Scotland on February 09, 2013:
This hub is awesome and a worthy tribute to this movie.
I have to admit something - and I don't usually do this in public, really because it's embarrassing - but I saw the movie way back in the late 1970s when it was making a re-run through the cinemas and I've also read the book. Since seeing the movie it has absolutely terrified me.
To be honest it was hard for me to look at the photos from the movie you have in your hub as I find them very frightening. I think one of the reasons that this movie is so scary is that definitely as you say, there was very little special effects. But also, and you don't get this with many horror movies, the acting and calibre of actors was excellent, so the sense of horror and the sense that this could actually happen was intensified.
I think so many horror movies are basically crap, with very poor scripts and acting and rely on blood and gore rather than genuine psychological fear. If you've seen one head getting chopped off, the next one is boring if you get my meaning?
Also the music from The Exorcist - 'Tubular Bells' by Mike Oldfield was also haunting - having the same effect as the music from 'Jaws' for many people I would think.
So having said all this and due no doubt to imagination and my fear of the movie, I do get a sense of genuine evil surrounding this film. I can't explain this feeling at all. There is no evidence for my belief and if someone said to me this is psychological I would certainly accept this. But the effect it can have on me is odd. Once in a while, especially when being reminded of the movie, like now, I'll have a hell of a time getting images out of my head of that creepy little girl. Again, I'm sure this is psychological - fear does have a remarakble power - but it is disturbing. I don't think I'm a nutcase at all - well hopefully not - but perhaps my mind uses images from the movie to symbolise everything I fear - who knows! Now I know many people will laugh at me and say 'get a grip' and I appreciate this, but I wouldn't watch this movie again and I don't have a copy in the house - ridiculous I know!
Now I'm fascinated with the paranormal and write a lot about it - I enjoy it and it fascinates me, but it doesn't frighten me in the least and I've had a number of experiences that were very interesting but not scary at all. Demons on the other hand terrify me. I was also brought up Catholic so perhaps this has something to do with it - although I'm not now a Catholic, I'm basically spiritual but looking for answers if you like.
Anyway, I'm sorry for writing a novel and gabbling on - good hubs have that affect on me!! But the hub was so interesting that I thought I would share my own thoughts on the movie and why I think so many folks - including me - are scared by it. Voted up + shared!!
kikibruce (author) from New York on February 08, 2013:
Thanks for your comment. We are opposites. I don't get very scared with The Shining anymore. The first time I saw it I was so scared that I cried for the entire last half. I was in a pretty scary place when I watched it though. I do love it though, and I really love the book. Amazing. I really love a good horror movie scare and can totally relate to the shower thing too. I've loved horror since I first saw The Birds. Still one of my favorites.
OMGirdle from United States on February 07, 2013:
I saw the Exorcist when it first came out. I begged my mother to take me. I don't remember how old I was but I couldn't have gotten into the movies without an adult. After begging on my hands and knees, she took me. She hated it and wished she hadn't taken me. I was scared for 2 weeks. Every time I took a shower I felt like something was going to be on the other side of the curtain...waiting for me. I've always been a dedicated horror fan since watching "Creature Feature" a show which broadcasted black and white horror flicks of Bella, Lon and Boris. I don't think there are too many horror flicks I haven't seen. The scariest horror movie for me was, "The Shining." "The Exorcist," was scary for a while. But once I saw Linda Blair in another movie, I was over it. Really detailed article you have here!