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Anybody else out there think that "The Exorcist" (1973) is a pile of crap?


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Looking for kindred spirits here:

 

So, I dogsat for some friends this weekend, one of their dogs is 23 years old, so I had to spend the night. Anyhoo, they have Netflix on demand through their Wii, and lemme tell you: the choices are weak, Verrrry few classic movies to choose from- so once I was done catching up on South Park I checked out the choices.

 

One that came up was 1973's The Exorcist

 

Back when I lived in LA and talked movies with people, they'd be like "so what are you into, Man?" and I'd be like, "well, to be honest with you, I'm really into old stuff" and they'd be like "Hell yeah, man! Like the seventies man, when it was all crazy and all about breaking the rules, man! Like Fosse and Coppola and freakin' Freidkin, man!"

 

Then I'd be like: "no, I mean I'm more in to stuff from the 40's and 50's" and they'd be like "oh,cool man" then they'd draw a "square" in the air with their fingers and find someone else to talk to.

 

One of the titles that came up repeatedly in these "You gotta check out the seventies, Man!" moments was The Exorcist I had SO many people tell me "Man, that was the one that broke all the rules, Man, you gotta check it out, Man!" I even had a friend who was unlucky enough to do some script re-writing for a project Freakin' Friedkin was working on in the early aughts (apparently he's a screamer, big shock I know)

 

So I checked out The Exorcist this Saturday, remembering what everyone had drilled into me (I also remember how it did big money in re-release a few years ago, in fact it's the highest grosser in Warner Brothers history.)

 

What a tedious, stupid, unscary, laughable, meandering pile of horse hockey that thing is!

 

Ambitiously plotless for the first forty (and let me add MOLASSES IN JANUARY SLOW) minutes; incredibly stupid ending, "hey, look at me!" camera moves by the director, not a single likeable character, overblown acting (I know Burstyn tried, but really?) some head-scratching script decisions (why on earth is the mother a movie star? what the hell is the deal with the statue head? What the HELL is the deal with Lee J. Cobb's whole character?)

 

Seriously, people were scared by this? Of WHAT? You'd think, judging from a purely asthetic viewpoint, that people in the seventies would be a lot harder to scare.

 

I get that Jaws is scary- but really, seriously, PEOPLE WERE SCARED BY THIS **** MOVIE? For real? (writer's note, I was born in 1978)

 

I personally am terrified by the fact that this thing recieved so many Oscar nominations, including the now infamous selection of Linda Blair as a nominee for Best Supporting Actress (to be fair, she's not bad.)

 

I think the best quote I could find about it came from a review by Vincent Canby which said (and I paraphrase here) :" the whole thing is not put together without intelligence, which makes it all the more trying in the end."

 

Stupid, stupid movie- EASILY one of the most overrated of all time.

 

(Good cinematography though.)

 

Anyone agree?

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Oct 11, 2011 8:08 PM

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A 23 year old dog? Does that make the Guinness book? --- I often feel a little bad about the culture (Music, movies, etc) that came along in my generation (high school and college in the 1970's). Music really went downhill as the 70's wore on, movies pushed the envelope with the nudity, language , and special effects stuff. I am definitely no prude, but many of the 70's movies put this stuff front and center at the expense of storyline, character development etc. So as time marches on and we look back we better see what was quality film making and what was ****.

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Jonny, you may be even more astonished to learn that *The Exorcist* was regarded as one of the favorites to win Best Picture and some people were upset when the Oscar went to the other co-favorite, *The Sting*. I guess you had to be there--or be glad you weren't. Historically, *The Exorcist* is important as the first time a horror film was nominated for Best Picture. This was a milestone in the mainstreaming of the horror movie, which was augmented and confirmed by the nomination of *Jaws* two years later.

 

Gee, I didn't say it was a good movie, did I?

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The people I know that really found the Exorcist scary were Catholics and others that believe in the concept of heaven and hell and the devil. To them the concept of having one's so called 'soul' taken over by the devil was real. This made the movie all the more real. I got this first hand going to see the movie with friends when we were teens. I would laugh at most of the movie and found it to be a joke but I could tell it impacted some of my friend. We discussed this later and it all related to their religious upbringing. The one good thing to come out of this was that us teens discussed concepts we haven't before (things other than sports and girls!).

 

I also lost a girl friend over this movie by asking something like 'well of course you don't really believe in an actual devil'! Yea, for her as well as many (the majority in the USA???), it was REAL.

 

 

 

 

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You have to realize that at the time, this was something completely different. This was a whole new venture into the horror genre. I am Catholic, grew up in the Catholic school system in the 50's & 60's. But, demonic possession was never really discussed. I always thought that it was an excuse that was used for people who may have been mentally "off". I was an adult by the time the novel came out and was interested in seeing how they pulled off some of these things on screen. They did an okay job as far as what they had to work with - to me, the most convincing things were the sounds that came out of the girl. There still were really not any special effects (as compared with the last 20 yrs). But the public ate it up. I think it was the sexual inuendo, the pea soup, the head turning, etc. I guess because I didn't believe in demonic possession, it didn't scare me. But, there were many people who did believe. It literally "scared the hell" out of some people. I know of one instance where the person slept with a chair up against his bedroom door for a long time after that movie. As I look back on it now, I can see why some people think it was hoakey. But, once again, you have to look at what films were like at the time. The Exorcist pushed the edge of the envelope as far as it had probably ever been pushed for decency. And the Catholic League of Decency condemned it for its content.

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I never saw it.

 

I saw some previews, trailers, and read some reviews about it, and I figured it was a film for teenagers like the kinds of films we had for us back in the late '50s.

 

When it first hit the theaters my wife and I were living in a big city and going to retro theaters to see old classic films.

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I haven't seen The Exorcist in years. In the early 1970s I was in college. Although not R.C., I was studying Theology at a Jesuit University. As it happens, one of my courses was in Demonology. We had to read The Exorcist for the course, as well as alot of scholarly material related to demons/demonology in all religions. I don't remember the exact timeline, but I think the movie had just come out. The course coordinator tried to get one of the Jesuit advisors to the film to speak to our class, but that couldn't be arranged. Nevertheless, as I recall, The Exorcist was presented to us as a work which did offer a fairly accurate depiction of what an exorcism should be like. The Demonology course was one of the most interesting courses I ever took.

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I think that THE EXORCIST is one of the most unintentially funny movies ever made.

 

About three years ago it was being run at the Motion Picture Academy and I decided to go see it, on the theory that I hadn't seen the movie since its initial release in 1973. I figured that I'd changed in the intervening thirty-five years and miight be better able to appeciate it (as was the case wiith any number of films, including BARRY LYNDON, which I disliked intensely back in '75, but now view as one of the most extraordinary evocations of time and place ever put on film).

 

I went with an open mind; I really wanted to like THE EXORCIST, but found it as dreary, dreadful, pointless and misguided as the college student I was had in '73.

 

I've never liked horror films, stories of the occult or supernatural, but find THE EXORCIST's rough contemporary, THE OMEN extremely affective anf frightening, despite my general disdain for the work of Richard Donner. Well, as they say, it takes all kinds to make a world.

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Heh, so many "classic" films are products of their time....The Women & Guess Who's Coming To Dinner? come to mind.

 

I was 12 when The Exorcist came out. EVERYone was reading the book. The images and discussion I overheard scared the bejeezus out of me. Hey, I was a young girl.

Then as I went into my teen years, the Exorcist was parodied everywhere, like on Saturday Night Live. I was exposed to many of the famous scenes, like the vomiting, the head turning, the gutteral voices, etc.

 

Fast forward to 30. I finally decided I was mature enough NOT to be scared by this film. (yeah, I'm a lightweight when it comes to gore) I borrowed it from the li-berry and watched it alone in October. (talk about facing your fears)

And just like the William Castle films that scared me as a kid, the Exorcist had *no* impact except for sadness.

 

My take on the film is that it's particularly horrifying to see such a sweet innocent girl taken over by an unseen force. No one wants to lose control over their own mind & body.

All the really horrifying scenes lost all impact because I knew they were coming, except the "crabwalk" down the stairs which I admit was rather jarring.

 

So, I think it's a rather good film, as far as "horror" films go. The premise & execution is pretty scary (even the shuffling sounds coming from the attic early on) But it was so sensational in it's decade, it lost all impact. And of course, now viewers are even MORE disensitized to

horror.

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The movie is "****"? Were you born in 1978...or 1998?

 

If you can't bring yourself to see films in the context of their original intended audience, then you'll have to be sympathetic to all the closed-minded dolts who think classic movies of the 30s and 40s are "dumb and boring"

 

You had to be there in 1973 to understand the impact, to realize the then-dominance the Catholic church still had on American society, the fear of the Devil and Hell that was still a factor for so many adults, and how utterly blasphemous this film dared to be.

 

This wasn't an exploitation film down at the grindhouse...it was a major studio production. It had the same impact that Psycho did a decade or so earlier, and Jaws had a few years later.

 

All of society's deepest fears...thrown right in their faces.

 

It's true, The Exoricist is poorly paced and hasn't held up all that well...but you really stretch your credibility by decribing it in terms one usually reserves to discuss the latest Britney Spears concert.

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> {quote:title=ChorusGirl wrote:}{quote}The movie is "****"? Were you born in 1978...or 1998?

>

> If you can't bring yourself to see films in the context of their original intended audience, then you'll have to be sympathetic to all the closed-minded dolts who think classic movies of the 30s and 40s are "dumb and boring"

>

> You had to be there in 1973 to understand the impact, to realize the then-dominance the Catholic church still had on American society, the fear of the Devil and Hell that was still a factor for so many adults, and how utterly blasphemous this film dared to be.

>

> This wasn't an exploitation film down at the grindhouse...it was a major studio production. It had the same impact that Psycho did a decade or so earlier, and Jaws had a few years later.

>

> All of society's deepest fears...thrown right in their faces.

>

> It's true, The Exoricist is poorly paced and hasn't held up all that well...but you really stretch your credibility by decribing it in terms one usually reserves to discuss the latest Britney Spears concert.

I agree with every single word of this post. I find the use of the word "****" offensive, and the entire analysis of the film, sophomoric. On topic, I've always found EXORCIST 3 the far better film.

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JG said "molasses in January slow." That's what some young people today say about our beloved black and white films, including Casablanca ! I don't remember The Exorcist film well, but as I wrote, it does portray a fairly accurate exorcism ritual, according to the Church's rules for such procedures, so take the film for its documentary value!

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I see the point you are making but I have to disagree with this sentence:

 

All of society's deepest fears...thrown right in their faces.

 

It wasn't 'all of society' but a segment of society. Yea, a large segment but only a segment. Again, agnostics like me felt the movie was a joke.

 

The movie did have a major impact but the people it really impacted where Catholics and those that believe in the concepts outlined in the movie. To other the movie is just camp, and not very good camp. All horror movies have some element of 'campness' but this one was really over the top in my view and thus one of the worst of the genre instead of one of the best.

 

 

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> {quote:title=Swithin wrote:}{quote}JG said "molasses in January slow." That's what some young people today say about our beloved black and white films, including Casablanca !

Just because some people glibly use a certain term (ie "slow" or "dated") in invalid criticism doesn't mean it doesn't apply to any case ever. In The Exorcist the term "slow" really, really does.

The first forty minutes feature about three (four?) different stories which do nothing to further the plot or reveal a single thing: NOTHING (worthwhile, scary or even remotely exciting) HAPPENS IN THEM.

 

Casablanca moves along at a brisk clip and every scene is necessary, nothing is superfluous. With The Exorcist I would say you could have sliced at least 30 minutes off the front of the film and the end product would be (somewhat) better. (Or at least mercifully shorter.)

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Oct 13, 2011 3:21 PM

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> {quote:title=ChorusGirl wrote:}{quote}The movie is "****"? Were you born in 1978...or 1998?

"I was born when she met me

I lived a few weeks while she loved me,

And The Exorcist is a f***ing **** movie."

 

I stand by my word choice 100%.

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> {quote:title=jamesjazzguitar wrote:}{quote}I see the point you are making but I have to disagree with this sentence:

>

> All of society's deepest fears...thrown right in their faces.

>

> It wasn't 'all of society' but a segment of society. Yea, a large segment but only a segment. Again, agnostics like me felt the movie was a joke.

>

> The movie did have a major impact but the people it really impacted where Catholics and those that believe in the concepts outlined in the movie. To other the movie is just camp, and not very good camp. All horror movies have some element of 'campness' but this one was really over the top in my view and thus one of the worst of the genre instead of one of the best.

The Exorcist isnt just about the devil. What about everyone's fear that something horrible will happen to their child, and they will be powerless to help them?

 

Jaws isnt just about fear of sharks...its about man losing his dominion over animals, and our fears of nature. Psycho isnt about crazy guys who dress up like their mothers...its the fact that a handsome and seemingly harmless man can conceal an inner, violent evil.

 

Most popular horror movies tap into universal fears that humans have...isolation, powerlessness, violence, death. They force us to face them.

 

I think there are many horror films with no camp value. Though of course camp is in the eye of the beholdre. But where is the camp humor in Last House on the Left? Irreversible? Seven? The Strangers? Repulsion? Funny Games? High Tension? ....All deadly serious horror films.

 

 

 

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I dont think the movie is overrated as I seem to remember the film got mixed to unfavorable reviews when it came out. I didnt have much interest in seeing it but got talked into it because a friend wanted to see it. I found the film more gross than scary. It was a big hit at the boxoffice, but I think a lot of that was the publicity and the book was a best seller so it was already pre-sold. How it got so many nominations looking back is puzzling, but it was probably a soft year for films as most of the 70's was. There were a lot of old timers in Hollywood who disliked the film so The Sting was an easy choice to win and did.......

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