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October 30, 2012

The Mike's Top 50 Horror Movies Countdown: #2 - The Exorcist

Previously on the Countdown: Number 50 - Happy Birthday to Me  Number 49 - Prince of Darkness  Number 48 - House on Haunted Hill  Number 47 - The Monster Squad  Number 46 - Hellraiser  Number 45 - The Fog  Number 44 - Creature From the Black Lagoon  Number 43 - Zombie  Number 42 - Tales from the Crypt  Number 41 - Bubba Ho-Tep  Number 40 - Phantom of the Paradise  Number 39 - Dog Soldiers Number 38 - Pontypool  Number 37 - Dark Water  Number 36 - Army of Darkness Number 35 - The Legend of Hell House  Number 34 - Poltergeist  Number 33 - The Abominable Dr. Phibes  Number 32 - The Phantom of the Opera  Number 31 - The House of the Devil   Number 30 - Evil Dead II  Number 29 - Dead of Night  Number 28 - Carnival of Souls  Number 27 - Nosferatu  Number 26 - Candyman  Number 25 - The Texas Chain Saw Massacre  Number 24 - Horror of Dracula  Number 23 - The Wicker Man  Number 22 - Suspiria  Number 21 - The Omen  Number 20 - Spider Baby or, The Maddest Story Ever Told  Number 19 - Rosemary's Baby  Number 18 - The Devil Rides Out  Number 17 - The Blob  Number 16 - Gremlins  Number 15 - Targets  Number 14 - Fright Night   Number 13 - Frankenstein  Number 12 - Alien  Number 11 - The Shining  Number 10 - An American Werewolf in London  Number 9 - The Thing  Number 8 - Dawn of the Dead  Number 7 - The Evil Dead  Number 6 - Night of the Living Dead  Number 5 - The Innocents  Number 4 - The Wolf Man  Number 3 - Psycho

The Exorcist
(1973, Dir. by William Friedkin.)
 Why It's Here:
There is not a movie that I am more fascinated by than The Exorcist. Justifying why I love it is always a challenge, because it's one of those movies that is so revered that there's barely anything left to say about it. But then I watch it, and the littlest things jump off the screen at me. Like the tortured look in Jason Miller's eyes, or the visible breath rolling off the characters during the final assault, or how wonderfully perfect Linda Blair's delivery of "You're gonna die up there" to a random freaking astronaut is.  It is the rare kind of movie where I could just pick any scene and ramble about it with love.

The Moment That Changes Everything:
Speaking of, it's impossible to pick one moment in The Exorcist that shakes me - because there are at least a dozen. It could be that staredown between Father Merrin and the statue or it could be when Regan freaks out on a dinner party or it could be when Father Karras goes into the room after he realizes what he must do.  It's probably the spinal tap - I cry like a baby when that scene happens - but I'm not willing to commit to that.  There are countless mind-melting moments in this movie.

It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
Like most great horror movies, The Exorcist inspired a lot of imitators.  However, it's the rare film that didn't really inspire many good imitators in its day.  Thankfully, the exorcism genre has had a nice resurgence in the last several years, led by the dynamite indie hit The Last Exorcism a couple of years ago.  Mixing a little bit of Exorcist with the found footage formula and a dose of Hammer films, it's one of the creepiest films I've seen in a while. I don't know if it really belongs in the same conversation as The Exorcist - but only because I don't know if anything really belongs in the same conversation as The Exorcist.

What It Means To Me:
I am a Christian, and I've at times wondered if I feel a closer connection to The Exorcist because of that.  But the more I watch this movie, the more I realize that anyone who would let their feelings about religion get between them and such a perfect horror movie is acting ridiculously.  This is good against evil, and if you don't believe in that - I don't know how you can believe in horror.  The Exorcist moves me, but there's no reason it shouldn't move anyone who realizes that a young girl turning into a dead thing that spouts obscenities and harms herself is something they don't want in the world.  It's a horror epic that demands - and deserves - all the respect it can get.

2 comments:

The Mike said...
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Kev D. said...

When I saw this movie as a kid, it gave me nightmares for longer than I care to admit. Might still have them from time to time... :|