With Night of the Living Dead laying down the gauntlet for the how terrifying and gruesome movies could be, the film-makers of the seventies took the challenge by the horns and raised the bar for q
With Night of the Living Dead laying down the gauntlet for the how terrifying and gruesome movies could be, the film-makers of the seventies took the challenge by the horns and raised the bar for quality horror cinema.
Traditionally horror films were regarded by the Hollywood establishment with a slightly cynical eye, while they were great money spinners, they were never going to be critically acclaimed classics. But the seventies saw that all change, as a parade of outstanding and chilling scary flicks dropped into cinemas.
But there is one grand-daddy of them all, the nightmare inducing, disturbing and grotesque icon of the genre: The Exorcist (1973)
Adapted from the 1971 book of the same name, The Exorcist tells the story of innocent suburban family, the MacNiels, as they are tormented by a demon, who may or may not be an incarnation of Satan himself.
Regan (Linda Blair), the family’s twelve year old daughter, is possessed by the demonic entit, and as her behaviour and the disturbances get worse, the family enlist the help of priests Father Merin (Max Von Sydow) and the now faithless Father Karras (Damien Miller) to exorcise and save their daughter’s soul.
Following the steps of the new-found serious and dark approach to horror cinema, The Exorcist is a brutally intense film that is by all definitions of the term a true horror film. It preys on all of the most basic superstitious fears that we have, and its masterstroke is manifesting all of these things in the body of an innocent child. The Exorcist has often been regarded as the scariest film ever made and it is easy to see why.
However, where The Exorcist excels above just being a supremely scary movie, is how it effects people on a deeper spiritual level. It is a film about pure evil in the form of the devil, something that is such an emotive and powerful fear for people the world over.
A whole network of urban legends has sprung up around the film’s production fuelled by this superstition, with some going as far to claim that the whole picture of cursed.
With numerous inexplicable fires, accidents on set and cast members falling ill, a priest was apparently brought in numerous times to bless the production team. All these rumours simply fuel the mystique that surrounds the picture.
But, whether or not you are a believer is largely irrelevant when appreciating the film for what it is, a masterpiece of the genre and one the few horror films to actually receive Academy Award recognition.
As with most successful horror films, The Exorcist spawned a series of copy cats and set the trend for a new sub genre of exorcism movie. To this day, films are still made following The Exorcist’s formula of what a movie-goer expects of a battle between a priest and a demon.
Not one for the faint of heart, but The Exorcist is one of the best and most terrifying horror flicks in history. It is one that covers all bases, it makes you scream, makes you gag and most of it makes you ask yourself, do I believe in the devil?