Flashback: The Exorcist and its sequels and prequels

At least they waited until the day after Christmas to release the film.

It was 40 years ago today that a movie called The Exorcist came out in theatres and proceeded to shock its way to box-office success. But the film did more than jolt people with its images of outrageous demonic behaviour; it also subverted the assumptions of modernity by suggesting that there was more to us than science and psychology could understand, and in its own roundabout way, the film became an expression of faith (certainly on the part of its screenwriter, William Peter Blatty, though his particular brand of faith might not be exactly conventional or orthodox).

To mark the anniversary of the film’s release, I have re-posted my reviews of the original film and its prequels, and I have compiled a few links to other blog posts that I have written about the film. Check ’em out below the jump.

The original film was re-released with extra footage in September 2000, so in anticipation of that re-release, I wrote this article for the monthly BC Christian News, and then I wrote this review of the film for the Vancouver Courier.

I never wrote any formal reviews of the sequels, but I did post some notes on the first three films to the Arts & Faith message board in 2004. You can read my comparison of the original film and the novel that inspired it here, my comments on Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) here, and my comments on The Exorcist III (1990) here.

I did review the two prequels that were released several years ago for Christianity Today Movies. Click here for my review of Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and here for my review of Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist (2005).

I have also written a few blog posts that touch on aspects of these films I didn’t get around to mentioning in my reviews.

First, in May 2005, noting that Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist was coming out on the same weekend as Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, and that both films were prequels to popular 1970s films that affirmed some sort of spiritual sensibility in the face of modernity, I compared and contrasted the two franchises.

Second, in December 2006, I got a kick out of the fact that director William Friedkin, in his director’s commentary to the 1998 DVD edition of The Exorcist, talked about how he avoided the temptation to “pump up” some of the spooky scenes — and then he went ahead and pumped them up anyway in the 2000 re-release!

And finally, during a ‘Close-Up Blog-a-thon’ in October 2007, I was intrigued by another blogger’s suggestion that some of the subliminal demon-face shots in The Exorcist may have been inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s Persona (1966).

About Peter T. Chattaway

Peter T. Chattaway was the regular film critic for BC Christian News from 1992 to 2011. In addition to his film column, which won multiple awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the Canadian Church Press and the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers, his news and opinion pieces have appeared in such publications as Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Bible Review and the Vancouver Sun. He also contributed essays to the books Re-Viewing The Passion: Mel Gibson’s Film and Its Critics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Scandalizing Jesus?: Kazantzakis’s The Last Temptation of Christ Fifty Years on (Continuum, 2005).


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