The Big Issue : Edition 447
THEBIGISSUE6--25DEC2013 41 damaged by fre during the flming, which accounted for some of the cost overruns. And Friedkin reportedly had a priest bless the set a number of times. Whatever they did, it worked. On initial release it was the second-highest-earning American flm of 1974 (behind The Sting), and after re-issues and adjusted for infation it’s the ninth-highest-grossing flm of all time. There have since been two sequels, one prequel (the original director Paul Schrader was replaced by Renny Harlin; eventually both directors' versions were released separately) and a parody starring Blair and Leslie Nielsen called Repossessed (1990). Not to mention a seemingly endless series of exorcism and possession-based horror flms including The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), The Rite (2011), The Last Exorcism (2010), and the hilariously titled The Last Exorcism Part II (2013). Just this year alone both The Conjuring and Insidious: Chapter 2 have involved possession -- and they've both been big box-ofce hits. What sets The Exorcist apart from the flms that followed is the way it didn't just rely on shocking the audience -- though even 40 years on there’s a lot in this flm that’s still shocking to see. It taps into a variety of fears that were fresh at the time and remain relevant today. What's wrong with my kid? Am I neglecting them by focusing on my career? Are they just freaking out because of puberty or is it something else? Is it really such a good idea to turn my back on God? Re-watching the flm, it’s surprising just how long it takes to get to the possession stuf, especially compared to today’s horror flms – where any character development is wasting time that could be better used spent creeping around a dark basement. Part of The Exorcist's strength is that it's an actual flm, with characters who have a life beyond being audience surrogates in a spooky house. Not all the flms that followed can make that claim. People leave The Exorcist remembering the vomiting and the cursing and the spider-walking, but its method of grounding all the over-the-top scares in actual real-life issues manages to make both the scares and the issues even more unsettling. Having a child on the cusp of puberty is frightening enough without having to worry that messing about with a ouija board is going to turn them into the Worst Teenager Ever. by Anthony Morris The Exorcist 40th Anniversary Edition is out now on DVD and blu-ray.