The relationship between classic movies and their myths can often make them critically invulnerable.
With its multiple revisions and extraordinary backstory, William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty’s epochal horror has been messed with as much as its heroine: poor, possessed little Regan (Linda Blair).
But such is the overwhelming power of its shock sequences, it’s easy to forget the film’s inadequately shaded male characters and the painfully slow first half.
Once all hell breaks loose, however, it’s a different story – one of horrendous bodily trauma as Regan’s mother (the excellent Ellen Burstyn) begs science/ religion to save their souls to no avail.
Set against a backdrop of BI G issues (loss of faith, bereavement, burgeoning sexuality), it’s as painful a portrait of child abuse as you’ll ever see, with added soup spewing.
New to Blu, but nowhere else, disc one features two whiny commentaries, a cheesy Friedkin intro, the (terrible) original ending and Mark Kermode’s weighty love-in, The Fear Of God.
Disc two has another iffy Friedkin chat-track, three fascinating featurettes and The Version You’ve Never Seen – Blatty’s 2000 cut with added subliminal demons, character development and the creepy, if nonsensical, spiderwalking scene.
Although hit-and-miss, these extras testify to The Exorcist’s enduring potency which, when it reaches full pitch, is enough to cover any multitude of sins.
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