The room is dark, cold and filled with strangers. All around, people are shivering and holding each other, as the head of a 12-year-old girl spins wildly around and a person in the back somewhere starts screaming. An overwhelmed viewer gets up to leave. A few others laugh nervously. The majority of viewers are silent, holding their armrests, their knuckles turning white. The tension is thick enough to cause an explosion, until one brave man yells out what everyone has been thinking: DAMN!
This exclamation sums up the re-release of The Exorcist (Warner Bros.) the blockbuster horror film based on the best-selling novel.
The original inspiration for the book was a reported exorcism in 1949 of a young Georgetown boy who caught the eye of Georgetown University student William Blatty. Blatty’s novel, The Exorcist, was published in 1971 and spent 55 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.
The movie, directed by William Friedkin, won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay following its release in the winter of 1973. It was quickly regarded as one of the scariest movies of all time.
During the first week of the film’s release, many viewers were so overcome by shock and fear when watching the movie that they fainted. With the nationwide re-release of The Exorcist, a new generation will fall victim to the terror on the big screen once again.
Ellen Burstyn stars as film star Chris Macneil, who lives in Georgetown while filming an upcoming movie. Her daughter Regan, played by Linda Blair, is left to her own devices in their house and discovers a new playmate by the name of Captain Howdy using an Ouija board. Little by little, what seems like a harmless childhood pleasure becomes something dark and disturbing, as the daughter Chris thought she knew undergoes a complete transformation.
Fearful of the sudden changes in Regan’s demeanor, Chris seeks the help of a team of doctors ranging from neurosurgeons to psychiatrists. When all medical explanations are exhausted, a desperate Chris seeks the help of Father Karras, a skeptical Catholic priest, to explore the possibility of an exorcism.
Meanwhile, Father Karras is plagued with questions from D.C. Police Lt. William Kinderman about a number of religious desecrations and the mysterious death of Chris’ longtime friend, director Burke Dennings. Only Chris sees the connection between Regan’s behavior and the bizarre occurrences in the neighborhood.
Although some of the material in The Exorcist may seem outdated (look for the doctor smoking a cigarette in his office), the movie nevertheless earns its billing as one of the scariest films of all time. The addition of eleven minutes of new footage as well as digital sound and picture quality breathes new life into the already-terrifying film.
One scene that was deleted from the original is the now-infamous spider-walking sequence. Even the most hardened movie-goers squirmed in their seats at the scene. One woman even felt the need to run out of the theater. Rest assured, Regan’s spider-walk lives up to the hype that surrounds it.
No one should not pass up the chance to see this movie on the big screen. The larger-than-life performances paired with the film’s technological advances give the movie a new dynamic. Viewing the movie on home video pales in comparison to the terror instilled when seeing The Exorcist in the theater.
Whether you see the revamped The Exorcist the night it opens or sometime next year in your dorm, make sure that you don’t see it alone. And just to be safe, watch those pesky steps in Georgetown.