Tuesday, July 23, 2013

THE EXORCIST (1973) - William Friedkin


Try as I might, I've always had a little trouble taking The Exorcist seriously as a horror movie. I appreciate its artistry, its documentary-like approach to fantastical subject matter, its practical effects, its inspired use of "Tubular Bells." I appreciate just about every aspect of Friedkin's handling of the film. I understand why it's a horror classic and consider it such. Yet, it always plays better as comedy to me. Broad comedy.

Why so? Is it because I generally identify as agnostic and have trouble getting behind any horror movie where the Devil himself is behind all evil doings? Is it because I first saw The Exorcist in my twenties, well after my impressionable years? Why do I find every vile epithet coming out of young Linda Blair's mouth (via Mercedes McCambridge's raspy croak) patently hilarious and not particularly unsettling or horrifying the way I suspect it was once intended to be?

Maybe I'm the Devil. Watching The Exorcist: The Version You Haven't Seen (which I'd already seen) over the weekend made for some of the best belly laughs I've had in weeks, if not that many horrified gasps/jumps. I know some people think the inclusion of Regan's "Spider Walk" in this version was over the top (Friedkin included), something that should have remained on the cutting room floor. But with a movie this funny (unintentionally or not), I say why leave your best sight gags at home. Deal of the Century aside, I think The Exorcist is Friedkin's best comedy.

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