Arguably the scariest motion picture ever made, William Friedkin's THE EXORCIST was unleashed on an unsuspecting American public in 1973. The film quickly became a nationwide sensation, leading to religious boycotts, fainting, and a huge box office return. Oscar nominee Linda Blair beat out hundreds of other child actors to land the role of Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old who is possessed by the devil. After exhausting all other practical options, Regan's mother, Chris (Ellen Burstyn), acknowledges the supernatural nature of her daughter's condition and recruits Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) to stage an exorcism. Aided by the mysterious Jesuit exorcist Father Merrin (Max von Sydow), Father Damien must confront not only the supernatural phenomena in front of him, but also his own inadequate faith and displaced guilt over his mother's recent death.
Friedkin brings William Peter Blatty's Oscar-winning script to shocking life by establishing a realistic, everyday tone before allowing the terror to creep in. The performances of Burstyn and Miller further help to ground the supernatural events. Like THE GODFATHER before it and JAWS shortly after, the breakout success of THE EXORCIST helped to transform Hollywood into the blockbuster behemoth of American culture.
This is the movie that you can't stand to watch and yet can't turn away from. THE EXORCIST is a horrifying, riveting film based on William Peter Blatty's best-seller (he also wrote the screenplay). In the ultimate transformation plot, a 12-year-old girl (Linda Blair) becomes possessed by the devil. Soon the once-sweet child beomes a murderous, vomit-spewing, bed-twirling hellhound. A dedicated but naive priest attempts to exorcise Satan from Regan's body--and in the process is forced to confront personal demons of his own. The theatrical release led to outrage, fainting, nausea--and huge box-office receipts. The result was two cash-in sequels, the second directed by Blatty.
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