The Exorcist (1973/2000)

minutes of extra footage added for this pre-DVD theatrical release.  
For starters, there's an unnecessary (if brief) coda pairing Father 
Dwyer with Detective Kinderman.  (Latter to former: "Do you like 
films?")  Another non-essential has Fathers Karras and Merrin swap- 
theological mumbo-jumbo during the exorcism.  (Something about re-
jecting the possibility of God's love.)  The gravest offender-- and 
most obvious of added footage-- is a pre-Regan-pees-on-the-carpet 
doctor's office visit, where the cherubic lass is prescribed a drug 
called... Ritalin.  (Accompanied by audience chuckling, of course.)  
The new scene is a head-scratcher, though, 'cause little Linda has-
n't been acting creepy-enough to *warrant* such a visit.  In fact, 
those familiar with the film may wonder, as I did, if the sequence 
was added *out* of sequence!

Worst about the four-minute-plus bit is that it drags.  Or, rather, 
*adds* drag.  As if the filmmakers are trying to kill time.  Mind 
you, when viewed in a Y2K, post-MTV, post-Jerry Bruckheimer con-
text, the movie *itself* seems sorta slow.  The takes are long, the 
dialogue is extensive, and there's at least double-dozen different 
shots of characters ascending or descending staircases. (Please re-
frain from MST3K outbursts during said stair-climbing.  Thank you.)  
The big-screen presentation also reveals other flaws, such as actor 
Jack MacGowran's overdone, Foster Brooks-style drunkenness.  Or the 
cheesy melodrama of Karras' mother's scenes.  Or, most problematic, 
actor Jason Miller's relentlessly long-faced performance.  Seen on 
video, he's fine; viewed on a big screen and the actor becomes more 
monotone.  More hound-dog than human and certainly less three-dim-
ensional than the film requires.  Oh, and Max Von Sydow's make-up 
gets worse as it goes.

On the upside, the sound recording is absolutely incredible.  (Ef-
fects, that is.  Non-demonic dialogue is rather hard to hear.)  The 
print, presumably restored, looks good, too.  And director William 
Friedkin is still damn effective at disturbing the Hell of an audi-
ence.  Go ahead and pick your poison, be it startling sounds (love 
that telephone!), desecrated icons, profane little girls ("your mo-
ther hocks socks to sell"), or stomach-churning medical procedures, 
like that clanging, churning, pre-MRI x-ray machine.  Yucko.  Plus 
*the* creepy prologue of all creepy prologues.  Nope, still don't 
understand all that Iraq business, but the assorted Arabic shapes, 
sounds, and textures are fabulous for leaving Western viewers dis-
concerted.  Bravo!  With Ellen Burstyn, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn, 
Reverend William O'Malley, Barton Heyman, and as the voice of Pa-
zuzu, Mercedes McCambridge.  Followed by two sequels, John Boor-
man's EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC in 1977 and "Exorcist" author and 
screenplay writer William Peter Blatty's THE EXORCIST III in 1990, 
who adapted his novel "Legion" which *itself* was adapted from his 
unused screenplay to the EXORCIST II!  The book is better.  (Grade:
"R"/135 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: Aerobic Exorcize

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros