Friday, November 19, 2010

The Exorcist unveiled....

A teenage girl becomes possessed by Satan after playing with a Ouija board. Causes objects to fly about, kills priests while becoming increasingly disfigured. 
Who hasn’t seen the most terrifying horror movie of the 70s – Exorcist?
Like they need your viewership that much!! The movie, made on an enormous budget of N10m(that was a lot in those days) has made over half a billion dollars for Warner Brothers. It was also the magnum opus of Billy Friedkin’s career, an obsessive and often difficult individual who was said to have approached the making of The Exorcist in the manner of a mildly unhinged dictator going to war.. The actors despair over his manic directing came through in their performances.
Well, news news , the Blu ray version of The Exorcist is out and it contains not just all the usual digital remastering expected in a Collector’s edition, but it also the fascinating documentary based on behind the scenes footage taken from the sets.
We discover that this movie:
1.      Was mostly shot on a wobbly hand-held camera directed by Owen Roizman the director of photography.
2.      We get to admire the extra ordinary lengths the Technical staff went to- in an era long before the advent of CGI to achieve the extravagant special effects in the plot. Without these, this dark tale with its rich dialogue would have been a boring flop.
3.      Remember the rotating heads, shaking beds? The documentary tells how sometimes, just before cameras rolled, Friedkin would fire guns, so that his stars looked startled. At other times, he'd slap the actors across the face to make them appear angry. Before every take of the film, he would insist on playing unsettling music on loudspeakers.
4.      Friedkin also required his entire set to be refrigerated, so that viewers would be able to see the breath of characters freeze during exorcism scenes. In Roizman's behind-the-scenes footage, you'll see crew-members creeping about the set in 1970s ski jackets, while Burstyn and Linda Blair snivel miserably in the cold.
5.      You also learn how charmingly low-tech most of The Exorcist's other special effects were. The famous scene when Regan's head rotates through 360 degrees, for example, was filmed using a life-size rubber model of the actress.
6.      For the scene where she vomits, an artificial device was strapped onto Blair's chin, and which used a hidden tube to fire a jet of green liquid, made by mixing of pea soup and porridge.
7.      To shoot scenes at the angles he desired, he required staff to erect a bewildering array of pulleys and wires, which the cameramen would simply be dangled from.
8.      To make the bed, on which Regan sits for much of the second half of the film, rock violently, four men stood backstage pumping levers attached to the bed. 
      Burstyn and Blair were left with longstanding back problems because of the extent to which they were thrown around on the mechanical bed.
9.      As the film progressed and Regan's voice morphs into an elaborate sort of cacophony, some of the sounds used included recordings of croaking tree frogs, and bumblebees.
10. And all those stories we heard about the production being cursed, a mysterious fire that devoured a soundstage and no less than nine people connected to the project dying during filming – pure myth!!

A great deal of The Exorcist's success also derives from the brilliant performance of 13 yr old Linda Blair, who won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Regan. Today, Blair gives Friedkin huge credit for effectively gambling his professional reputation on a film that depended on the performance of small child. It required endless patience. "Sometimes I wouldn't want to do something. And he would have to make it a game. Or he would offer me some sort of benefit. 'Would you like to have a chocolate shake?' he would ask. 'If you finish this then you can have one.' It worked."
 All hail the genius of Linda Blair, Billy FriedKin, and Owen Roizman!!!!!

Despite the comfort of finding out that it was all fake, I wouldn’t re-watch this movie for all the tea in China and even less the Recent Remake. Once was enough….Right??

p.s. Linda Blair went on to make other movies, MOSTLY HORROR and never became a big star for someone that talented and who had an early start! 
Now you understand my fears for Chloe Moretz who seems to be following her footsteps.

Culled from here


  1. The book scared the daylights out of me. The movie, eh, not so much. Imagination is much more powerful than the images in the film. Don't think I'd watch it again though!

  2. Once was enough for me. I watched it with my little brother and friends so that I could help them come back to reality once it was over. I've regretted that decision ever since. It was a pretty evil-feeling movie.

  3. That films still gives me nightmares. I dont think I can ever watch it alone even at my age.



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