The Exorcist
DVD Trilogy

Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair & Jason Miller
Warner Home Video
RRP 29.99
Certificate: 18
Available now

A priest arrives at a house to perform an exorcism on a demon-possessed girl...

The number of decent films that follow a single-sentence plotline you could probably count on one hand. People talk about a conjunction of events which inspire greatness; It's no exaggeration to say this was one such moment. The Exorcist is an out and out bonafide thoroughbred classic.

Having said that, it's a like it or loathe it movie. If you accept the fact that it's a very well-constructed experience, I can see only two reasons why certain individuals might dislike it: either seeing it as a form of blasphemy, or objecting to the profanities and sexual connotations (namely the crucifix scene). The Exorcist is almost documentary-like in style, with many quick response/reaction cuts which prove shocking and lend the events a stark realism. Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells score adds the chill factor.

Scenes from this film have been parodied in two or three subsequent flicks, proving its place in entertainment folk lore, but the original is not a film you can watch again and again. I thinks it's fair to say you don't even enjoy watching it; you just can't help appreciating its compelling nature. You need the right temperament, especially as the film ends on a downer.

Included in the great extras package are two separate feature commentaries by author William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin. There are interviews, sketches and storyboards, trailers and TV spots, and a superfluous unused end scene. However, the "Fear of God" documentary tells you everything you wanted to know but where afraid to ask: several deaths, a fire-burned set, Friedkin the hard taskmaster, and much more.

Totally remastered, with Dolby 5.1 surround audio, this should be prominent in everyone's dvd collection. It's a two-sided disc, but that's a minor gripe. Did I mention it was a classic? Buy it!



Father Lamont is instructed to investigate what happened to Merrin, the exorcist from the first film. A machine which links two people under hypnotism is being tested by Doctor Tuskin, who is attempting to rid Regan of her nightmares. Through Regan Lamont traces back the evil to an African village and a boy healer whose demon was cast out. Regan is discovered to be one of many child healers who have been attacked by the demon of the cult of locusts...

Let me start by saying I'm torn on Exorcist II: The Heretic. After the near perfection of the first film I found myself looking for faults. They're not difficult to find if you look hard enough: some dry acting in parts, over-sentimental music from Ennio Morricone (not his proudest achievement - perhaps he was possessed by John Williams!), and some inexplicable character reactions.

The Heretic isn't a conveyor-belt turkey sequel, it just tries too hard. Whereas the James Cameron film Aliens assumes many people had seen its precursor and so set out to make an original and better story, this film relies too heavily on the first. It falls easily into the trap of becoming bogged-down in back story and exposition. A complicated plot and lots of special effects does not a good film make, as Yoda might say.

Richard Burton, after a lethargic start, portrays his character well, Max Von Sydow reprises his role from The Exorcist in new flashback scenes, and James Earl Jones is marvellously understated in his minor role. Director John Boorman is no slouch, as anybody who has seen the excellent Excaliber will testify, but there is none of the original gritty realism.



Police Lieutenant William Kinderman (not Scott, as it says on the back of this pack) is investigating a spate of killings with religious connections. The m.o. is identical to the Gemini Killer who was executed in the electric chair years previously - right down to unreleased inside information. When fingerprints fail to tie-up at the scenes, it's thought that there may be more than one killer. However, the lieutenant discovers a man in a secure ward to be Legion, possessed by many evil spirits, including the Gemini Killer and the tortured soul of Father Damien Karras (whose career in the church went so dramatically down hill in the first film)...

Exorcist III - Legion is so much better. An exciting murder mystery with a supernatural slant. There is only the most tenuous of connections to earlier events, and this allows the film to succeed on its own merit. Unlike the first sequel, William Peter Blatty returns to the writing and even takes on the director's chair. The earlier parts of the story are well handled with some dry but humorous banter exchanged between the lieutenant and his old friend Father Dyer. In fact George C. Scott is utterly convincing as Kinderman; abrupt one moment, quiet and distant the next. Viewers might also just recognise Brad Dourif, The Gemini Killer, as the voice of Chucky in the Child's play movies.

The religious aspect has to be neatly explained towards the end of the film: in this case, revenge for the original exorcism. However, this entails a certain amount of demon activity, and this is where things become a little untidy. Not in the sense of the script, you understand, but with gore as another priest gets it, and climatic special effects which are quite unnecessary. By then the movie has already made its point.


Ty Power

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