The moment I popped in “The Exorcist Extended Director’s Cut” on Blu-ray, I was reminded of what I was in for. To greet me was Linda Blair’s possessed face painted in an eerie green glow accompanied with demonic noises. Immediately, I remembered how frightening this film is. The first time I watched it, I was around 12 or 13. Raised Catholic, I had nightmares for days and slept with a rosary.
Eventually, the unsettling dreams faded and I was able to get a good night’s sleep, but the unsettling imagery from “The Exorcist” is unforgettable. I’m sure if you ask anyone which scenes freaked them out most, they’d be able to tell you without batting an eye.
Of course, Regan’s spinning head comes to mind. But that scene is trumped by the shocking masturbating-with-a-crucifix sequence, which even in the midst of slasher films such as “Saw,” continues to disturb to this day. Back then; ultra-violence wasn’t needed to scare an audience. It certainly wasn’t required in “The Exorcist’s” case. William Blatty’s writing along with William Friedkin’s direction and Linda Blair’s disturbing performance as the possessed girl was more than sufficient.
Regan’s (Linda Blair) possession isn’t clear overnight simply because in the very beginning her symptoms were minute. However, as her illness worsened, the tests became more severe and the drugs used to sedate her more potent. It wasn’t until the 12-year-old lunged onto a psychiatrist under hypnosis that her doctors finally suggested something unconventional. Exorcism.
If I remember right, before “The Exorcist” there weren’t any films about the practice to expel evil spirits from a person’s body. Yet without a reference point, Friedkin was able to create a terrifying film that made the viewer believe such a rite existed and a very young and talented Linda Blair made us think demon possession could occur. It is because of the film’s success, every other movie about exorcism moving forward has tried to emulate Blatty and Friedkin’s creation in one way or another. None have come close to being at the same level.
So, when the director’s cut was released on Blu-ray a few weeks ago, I had to purchase a copy. Included of course in the extended edition is the spider-walk scene from the 2000 re-release in addition to a three-part documentary about how the film was made, where it was shot and the different versions of “The Exorcist.”
There are two discs in total: the theatrical cut and the director’s cut. Within the theatrical Blu-ray disc, there are more extras, which comprise a making-of documentary from 1998, theatrical trailers, sketches and storyboards and TV spots. But the best part of the package is the 40-page hardbound digi-book filled with photographs.
What also makes the Blu-ray a worthwhile purchase is the digitally-restored audio. The sound is very rich and clean. I couldn’t get over the different layers used to create one haunting sound. The visuals are as crisp as you would guess, too.
In honor of Halloween this year, pick up a copy of “The Exorcist Extended Director’s Cut.” You’ll be glad you did. However, make sure to watch it in broad daylight.
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