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The Exorcist (1973): At an archaeological dig in Iraq, aging preacher Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) senses that a dark force has been unwittingly unleashed. In Washington DC, an 11 year-old girl (Linda Blair) shows signs of a strange condition, which defies the doctors. Her distraught movie star mother (Ellen Burstyn) consults Father Karras (Jason Miller). Karras believes this could be a case of demonic possession. The Church brings in Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) to perform an exorcism, while Father Karas assists.

The Exorcist II The Heretic (1977): Bizarre nightmares plague Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) four years after her possession and exorcism. Can the faith and knowledge of a Vatican special investigator (Richard Burton) and a hypnotic research specialist (Louise Fletcher) free her from the grasp of this new demon.

The Exorcist III (1990): A woman crawls by unnoticed, on the ceiling like a fly. A long-dead killer claims a series of victims. Flames erupt, snakes slither, the ground opens and reveals a writhing pit of the damned. The evil has returned.

The Exorcist review by Richard Kuipers:
A masterpiece of manipulation, The Exorcist preys on just about every basic human fear (especially those surrounding guilt and faith) and wraps it all up in the appalling transformation of a cute 12 year-old girl into a snarling, spewing grotesque monster from hell. Ironically the rudimentary special effects (by today's standards) make Regan's possession even more believable now than then. No ho-hum digital compositing or morphing tricks here; just old-fashioned make-up, wind machines and stage hands bouncing poor Regan and her bed from floor to ceiling. The extra 11 minutes of footage included in this re-release are a mixed blessing. An early medical examination of Regan seems like an unnecessary portent of what's to come while some of the shock material is so spectacular you wonder why it was ever left out. I could still do without Jack MacGowran's shameless overplaying as the sodden director and some of Ellen Burstyn's outbursts almost go over the acceptable limit but elsewhere this is powerful and impressive stuff. As a standard bearer in the horror hall of fame The Exorcist has still got it.

Additional notes by Andrew L. Urban:
If youíre hoping that William Friedkinís commentary is a filmmakerís deconstruction of the tricks of his trade, an insiderís dairy of how Linda Blairís head spun around or how her tongue was long and blue or how she spewed a snake-like green substance during the exorcism, you will be disappointed.

Friedkin basically narrates the substance and the subtext of the film: itís often like a prose version of the screenplay, with footnotes.

Except at the beginning, where Friedkin provides some telling commentary about how the film was shot in Mosul, in Iraq, often in extreme heat. He says the opening sets up the mythology behind the film: Merrin (Max von Sydow), os both archaeologist and priest. He explains that this sequence is in the film ďto introduce the idea that in this ancient land, Merrin gets a premonition of the demon he will have to face againĒ Ė sometime. This was in 1972, before Saddam Hussein came to power, but already the country was Baathist run. America didnít have diplomatic relations with Iraq, and the condition for getting a filming permit was bizarre. The Iraqis wanted to learn filmmaking techniques Ė especially how to make fake film blood.

Freidkin says he grew to love the Iraqi people Ė who had ďa difficult leadership that didnít reflect the people.Ē Recorded prior to the war that liberated Iraq in 2003, Friedkin makes no comment on the prescient nature of this element: he doesnít connect the evil that comes out of an ancient artefact in Iraq, with the evil that came out of Iraq when Saddam took power. Itís an observation we can make for ourselves.

Published December 26, 2003

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CAST: I: Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Jack MacGowran; II: Linda Blair, Louise Fletcher, Richard Burton, Max von Sydow; III: George C. Scott, Ed Flanders, Brad Dourif, Jason Miller

DIRECTOR: I: William Friedkin, II: John Boorman, III: William Peter Blatty

SCRIPT: I: William Peter Blatty, II William Goodheart, III: William Peter Blatty

RUNNING TIME: I: 132 minutes; II 118 minutes; III 105 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.1 (English); Dolby 2.0 (Dutch, Polish, Czech, Hebrew, Greek)

SPECIAL FEATURES: I: audio commentary by William Friedkin; II: alternate opening sequence

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video

DVD RELEASE: December 3, 2003

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