The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


The Exorcist
Get The Exorcist 40th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray October 8, just in time for Halloween!

It's a truly special thing when a horror movie becomes a classic. What this means is that the film isn't just an of-the-moment experience, it has the power to scare people down through generations. Perhaps no movie exemplifies this better than William Friedkin's 1973 shocker The Exorcist. Still considered one of the scariest movies ever made – if not the scariest – it has been terrifying viewers for forty years. To commemorate the anniversary of its release, Warner Home Video is releasing a new Blu-Ray edition of The Exorcist that puts the theatrical and extended editions together in the same set, along with a ton of supplementary material.

Aside from being expertly made, The Exorcist has remained effective because it taps into two basic fears. The first is a fear of the evil unknown, the idea that some sort of demonic entity could take over your body, or the body of someone you love. This sort of vulnerability is disturbing because, if we can't control our own bodies, what can we control? The other fear The Exorcist taps into involves having your child display bad behaviors. Sure, little Regan (nicely played by Linda Blair) was possessed by the devil, but she also stands in for any child who exhibits troubling behavior. Any parent will tell you that it can be scary the first time your kid displays rage or inappropriateness. Imagine being poor Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and wondering how long your precious daughter is going to be masturbating with crucifixes and puking green goo into the face of your priest. These duel horrors are timeless, and The Exorcist exploited them quite well.

The 40th Anniversary Edition is an impressive set. Disc one is the extended director's cut, which runs ten minutes longer than the theatrical cut. The most notable addition is a scene in which Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) offers Father Karras (Jason Miller) a pessimistic explanation for why the devil would possess little Regan. Also on the first disc are an audio commentary from Friedkin, a selection of trailers, TV ads, and radio spots, and three featurettes. “Raising Hell” centers around the filming of the movie and the accomplishment of the special effects. “Locations: Georgetown Then and Now” contrasts how famous locations looked in the movie and how they look today. You'll get glimpses of the famous stairs from The Exorcist where one priest met an unpleasant fate. Friedkin appears to explain why Georgetown was the perfect location in which to film. “Faces of Evil,” meanwhile, spotlights the differences between the two cuts of the movie. We learn that Blatty was furious with Friedkin for cutting what he felt were twelve essential minutes, including the previously mentioned conversation between Merrin and Karras.

Disc two has the original theatrical cut, an introduction from Friedkin, and more audio commentaries. One is from Friedkin, the other from writer William Peter Blatty. “Fear of God” is a thorough documentary on the making of the film and the phenomenon that followed. You will also find a selection of storyboards, as well as an interview gallery with Friedkin and Blatty. The original ending is here, too, as are more trailers and TV spots.

The third disc has two brand new bonus features. The first is “Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist,” a 27-minute piece focusing on the author. Blatty takes you on a personal tour of his book's creation, including the extensive research he put into it, and its eventual evolution onto film. The other feature is “Talk of the Devil,” which runs about 19 minutes. It's an archival interview with Father Eugene Gallagher, one of Blatty's instructors at Georgetown University. Father Gallagher told the young writer about a true case of possession that provided a life-changing burst of creative inspiration. This is an especially intriguing piece of supplementary material, partially because it's really out of the norm, and partially because it gives a fair amount of insight into William Peter Blatty's early days as a writer.

Also included in this Blu-Ray set is a beautiful hardcover book featuring excerpts from William Friedkin's autobiography, The Friedkin Connection, that pertain to The Exorcist. It'll make you want to buy the whole book.

There's little doubt that The Exorcist will continue to terrify people for another forty years. It has earned its place in the top ranks of horror cinema. This 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray is chock full of high-quality bonus features that rightly celebrate and deepen your appreciation for this classic film.

For more details, please visit the WB Shop or the official Facebook page.

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