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Dave’s Favorite Horror Movies: #1 – The Exorcist [VIDEO]

Warner Bros.

It’s Halloween! For the past five days, I’ve been laying out my five favorite horror movies of all time to get you ready for the spookiest of all holidays. But first, an explanation of a couple of changes from previous lists.

First, I no longer call this a list of the five scariest movies of all time because they’re excellent films and I’ve watched them a number of times for THAT reason. So they don’t “scare” me anymore…for the most part.

You see, there IS one that is always disturbing, no matter how many times I see it. And it’s the one on the list that I’ve seen the fewest amount of times for that reason. I saw it just the other night, as a matter of fact, during a horror marathon on the Independent Film Channel. And, after nearly 40 years, it still packs quite a punch.

That’s why it tops the list of my all-time favorite horror movies.

Prior to 1973, there may have been only one horror movie that could be considered a “game-changer.” I’m referring to Psycho (my #3 film). The pure shock value of the shower scene was something never before encountered by American movie goers. I was not around at the time, but I’ve talked to many who were, my parents included. It definitely left an impression.

It would be another thirteen years before an even deeper impression was made on movie fans. In fact, I could go so far as to say that The Exorcist was so viscerally shocking, that there are those who might have STOPPED being movie fans, for fear of ever seeing something like it again.

YouTube/Warner Bros.

Just within the last three months, I’ve talked to those who have told me they will NEVER watch it again. And after seeing it again–for only the third time ever–I can understand that. Linda Blair plays Regan, a sweet and innocent twelve-year-old girl who lives with her mother, Chris–played by Ellen Burstyn–who’s an actress. They are temporarily residing in the Washington DC suburb of Georgetown while Chris films a movie.

Chris begins to notice disturbing and dangerous changes in her daughter. (That, by the way, is called an understatement.) And after a barrage of medical tests and second, third, and fourth opinions, Chris decides to consult a priest to perform an exorcism.

Here’s a movie I’d love to see again for the first time, but, you know, this film is such a whackjob scare-fest, that repeated viewings provide their own unique opportunities for fright.

For example, since you already know what’s going to happen, Regan’s behavioral changes early in the film are even scarier because you know what they mean. Linda Blair was quite an accomplished actress at a young age. Movie fans had never seen her before, yet she perfected a demonic glare that terrified us all.

And, of course, the demonic possession escalates into all the activities in Regan’s bedroom. It was a brilliant decision to cut the music score, at times, to intensify the already fearsome dialogue of the demonic voice, provided by an actress named Mercedes McCambridge.

Well, let’s face it, for better of worse, it was just a brilliant decision to adapt William Peter Blatty’s classic 1971 novel for the big screen. It was an enormous hit. Still is. When you add in the receipts from various re-releases, The Exorcist has earned more than $440 million at the American box office.

Not bad for a film many will NEVER see again.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

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