The Exorcist was released on December 26, 1973 and decades later it remains a masterpiece of the Horror genre. A phenomenal success, with both audiences and critics, the classic was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning two. (My RIR article, “Is Oscar Afraid of Horror Films?” provides details.)
In celebration of The Exorcist’s 45th anniversary, I merrily revisited the film earlier this week, compiling some of the films tricks (not too many) and treats (many, many, many) to share with you now, in chronological order.
1/ While Father Karras is waiting for the train to arrive, the vending machine located on the train platform advertises Coca Cola for 15 cents! How I miss the days of 15 cents Coke. I mean, not that I was around at that time, of course.
2/ When Father Karras (Jason Miller) applies fresh bandages to his mother’s left leg, she is sitting in a comfy chair, but when he leaves her apartment, she’s asleep in a less-than-comfortable-looking rocking chair. Did he move her so that she could be located closer to the radio?
3/ When Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn)is awakened by a phone call while she’s in bed sleeping, there’s a fresh cigarette right beside the phone, just waiting to be lit and smoked!
4/ Regan (Linda Blair)seemingly crawled into her mother, Chris’, bed without Chris being aware of it until after Chris completed her [latest] bedside phone call. How do you not realize that someone’s crawled into your bed when you’re still awake?
5/ With the number of profanities coming out of Chris’ mouth (“Jesus Christ!”, “God damn it!”, “Hell!) prior to the possession, is it any wonder that Satan would feel welcome in her house…and daughter’s soul?
6/ Not surprisingly, the number 6 figures into the movie at least twice: once on the morning after Chris’ searching of the attic, when the bell chimes six times; and then later when Lt. Kinderman shares with Chris that he’s seen her film, Angel, six times, which if Chris’ reaction is any indication, may be five times too many.
7/ I’m obsessed with Chris’ hair and wardrobe at her house party. To. Die. For.
8/ It’s hinted that Chris and film director Burke Dennings (Jack MacGrowan) may be somehow involved (ie: dating). Upon initially seeing the character, I had to rewind the film to confirm that it was in fact his name that had been mentioned earlier as Chris’ late night visitor. It’s hard to believe that Chris would have any kind of relationship with this guy other than one that is 100% professional. Aside from having a face only a mother could love, the character’s behaviour at Chris’ party suggests that he’s a total asshole.
9/ When back at his room, a fellow priest removes Father Karras’ dress shoes, it’s revealed that Father Karras is not wearing any socks. Is this a Catholic thing…or just him being VERY fashion forward?
10/ The medical procedures that Regan is subjected to seem to evolve into sessions of barbaric torture one would find in a different kind of horror film.
11/ The medical doctors discussing psychiatry like it is Black Magic is beyond hilarious.
12/ When Chris returns home from the hospital and the lights in the house go on and off, blink and you’ll miss the flash of the demon’s face on the range hood!
13/ A question for Mr. Science: If a bedroom window is left open, and it is windy outdoors, shouldn’t the curtains on the inside of the window be blowing into the room and NOT out the window?
14/ How cool is it when Chris leaves Regan’s bedroom and the statue image of Pazuzu appears on the wall to the left of the door!
15/ Thank God that Regan’s “spider walk” was NOT in the original version of the film.
16/ When Regan is in her mother’s bedroom, under hypnosis and being questioned by the psychiatrist, Chris has her hands folded in front of her face almost identically to that of the photo of Regan appearing behind Chris in the background.
17/ Okay, this is really the ONLY “trick” I discovered while watching the film, but it’s a really good one! When Chris first meets Father Karras, he gives her a [much-needed] cigarette, which she smokes and finishes. Chris then has her hands in her coat pocket as the two walk together. When she inquires about exorcisms, a cigarette re-appears in her right hand, and then moments later in the same scene, the cigarette is gone, magically replaced by a handkerchief.
18/ Is there anyone other than me wondering exactly how many different nightgowns Regan goes through in the movie? Of equal curiosity, how does one go about changing the poor girl’s nightgowns without disturbing the demon in the process?