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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


A Halloween Revisit: The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist 1973 poster

October 27, 2023/12a.m.  

“I spent an evening in the lobby just to see if people really do come stumbling out in the middle of the picture as reported – they did,” David Sheehan from KNXT-2 News reported on The 

Exorcist’s premiere in 1973. 

“The Exorcist” revolves around the possession of a young girl named Regan MacNeil (played by Linda Blair) by a demonic entity, which prompts her mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), to seek the help of two priests, Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) and Father Karras (Jason Miller), to perform an exorcism. Directed by William Friedkin and based on the novel of the same name by William Peter Blatty, the film left a profound impact on both the horror genre and pop culture as a whole. 

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The now 50-year-old horror landmark remains one of the scariest films in Hollywood history and perhaps the most iconic of its genre. The movie was a collection of shocking scenes and sounds: the distorted face of the girl, the scream of the mom, the disgusting green vomit, and the head- spinning scene. 

In 1973, the concept of exorcism was relatively unknown to most moviegoers, let alone the disturbing scenes. Five decades later, the intense graphic depictions of demonic possession still terrify the audience. By pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable in mainstream cinema, the movie paved the way for a new era of horror that was more intense and vulgar.

“The Exorcist” wasn’t just a film but a cultural phenomenon. Its release was met with fervent anticipation and controversy, with reports of audience members fainting, vomiting, and even suffering from psychological distress during screenings. 

The film’s notoriety and box office success solidified its status as a cultural touchstone. The movie’s impact extended far beyond the silver screen. It rekindled interest in the horror genre, leading to a slew of supernatural and demonic-themed films. 

The film’s influence can be seen in countless horror movies that followed, and its ability to shock and terrify audiences remains undiminished, even nearly five decades after its release. 

“The Exorcist” boasted a cast that delivered truly remarkable performances, elevating the film to a level of greatness rarely seen in the horror genre. Linda Blair’s portrayal of the possessed Regan was nothing short of extraordinary. 

Her transformation from a sweet, innocent girl into a terrifying, profanity-spewing demon was both convincing and nightmarish. Blair’s dedication to the role earned her an Academy Award nomination. 

Jason Miller and Max von Sydow were equally brilliant in their roles as the conflicted priests, with Miller earning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Their portrayals lent depth to the film’s spiritual and psychological aspects, enhancing the emotional impact of the narrative. 

“The Exorcist” featured groundbreaking special effects that contributed to its iconic status. The grotesque and gruesome makeup, created by Dick Smith, brought the demonic transformation of Regan to life in a way that was both shocking and unforgettable. 

The infamous “head-spinning” scene, along with the projectile vomiting and disturbing self- mutilation, left a lasting impression on audiences, effectively creating a new standard for the visual representation of horror in cinema. 

“The Exorcist” is more than just a movie; it is a harrowing journey into the unknown: the confusion of the mom over the sudden changes in her child, the intimidating encounter with an unholy entity, and most importantly, the clash of religious faith. 

All these fears bring the audience into an overwhelming world, leaving them with religious confusion and inexplicable awe. 

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About the Contributor
Quoc Huy Ngo
Quoc Huy Ngo, Arts & Leisure Editor
Hi! This academic years Arts & Leisure editor is Quoc Huy Ngo. Writing is one of his passions and he has been writing for more than one year. Besides writing, reading is also one of his biggest enjoyments (especially anything about art and the fashion industry). During his downtime, he loves to clean and decorate his space, spend time with friends, or just chill and enjoy tiny, beautiful things in life. Thank you for all of your support. 

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