Sunday, October 23, 2011
"The Exorcist" 1973
This movie is creepy. It is interesting because it goes from almost no action to some crazy stuff. There is no middle ground.
When I was in high school I would have sleepovers with my two best friends. We would lay on the floor in the living room and watch movies. Usually they were comedies but we liked the occasional horror movie. I remember the night we watched the “Exorcist”. As the movie got progressively scarier we squeezed closer to each other with the blanket creeping over our eyes.
At one point my father came in the room to check on us.
Dad was a cop. A big, tough cop. He was over six feet tall and built like a brick wall. I had never recalled seeing him scared of anything to that point in my life.
He sat on the couch and watched the movie with us for a few minutes. It happened to be the moment that Regan, played by Linda Blair is having her “moment”. She has done some unspeakable things with a crucifix and then does the head rotation thing and the green pea soup thing.
Dad, even in the darkness of the living room looked a little pale.
Years later I went to see the re-release of this with a group of friends. We were all horror fans, brought together by our love of Stephen King. It was impossible to pass up a viewing of a horror classic on the big screen.
It didn’t have the same impact as the viewing when I was younger. I remember noticing the smoking. They were smoking everywhere. When Regan is brought to the hospital for tests, the doctor takes the mom out in the hall to discuss the results. In the middle of the hospital he lights her smoke and has a cigarette himself as they talk.
Anytime they aren’t trying to expel the demon from Regan they are having a smoke break.
We laughed in the theater and I am sure that we ruined the movie going experience for others, but the smoking was just ridiculous and over the top.
A few years ago I was at a baby shower at my job. They brought the baby in and I asked about the name. The couple told me happily that the little girl’s name was Regan.
“Really?” I asked, “Isn’t that the name of the girl in “The Exorcist?”
They were horrified. But the birth certificate was all filed and everything.
It is interesting when a movie like this sinks in to the culture. It is instantly recognizable and I don’t think it could really be remade in a serious way. Even the sequels were kind of self parodies of the original. But I still remember that dark living room and seeing my big, strong dad being grossed out by a possessed girl.