It came out in 1973. I was born in 1976. My mom saw it at the theater and thought it was hilarious. I’ve told you before how sick she was. Who else would watch Rosemary’s Baby while pregnant and think it’s funny? Am I talking about Rosemary’s Baby? No. I’m talking about The Exorcist.
Yesterday, I talked about how much I hate the idea of not being in control. I won’t beat that idea to death. No, I’ll just tell you about my experiences with this movie.
When I was sixteen, this movie was still considered one of the scariest movies of all time. I hadn’t seen it, of course, because it wasn’t appropriate for younger kids. A show that played every Saturday night when I was younger was hosted by Morgus the Magnificent. He was a mad scientist and along with his silent sidekick, Chopsley, he terrified generations of kids by showing horror movies and conducting experiments. I remember one week when the previews for his show revealed he would be presenting The Exorcist. I was thrilled. I’d finally be able to see it! I made plans with my brother (who was 10 at the time) that we’d stay up late Saturday night and watch it.
I anxiously awaited the weekend, making plans to enjoy the movie and finally see what it was all about. Saturday night finally came and I can still feel the giddiness of knowing I was going to watch the one movie that was supposed to be the scariest of all time. My brother and I piled into my room with the massive console television with our blankets and pillows. You remember those televisions, right?
Anyway, it was 9:58 p.m. and the house was quiet. Our parents had gone to bed and Phil and I were going to watch this movie. We were all set. We waited and waited for the show to start. Morgus came on to do his thing. I wasn’t impressed or frightened of Morgus at all. I wanted to see the movie! Then he said something like, “And here’s just a preview of the horror awaiting you”. And the screen flickered to the scene in The Exorcist where the bed levitated. Then to the scene where Regan’s head spun around.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the television and I felt the frissons start at the base of my spine and travel all over my body. My eyes watered. My heart pounded. I reached a shaking hand out…and turned off the television. I looked at my brother and he looked just as scared as I did. We didn’t watch The Exorcist that night. And I was so glad.
It was another six years before I braved it again. My brother was 16 by then and I was a world-weary 22. I could handle it. And I did. I watched the whole thing through, even managed to enjoy the fear I felt. I was in college at the time, living at home with my family, so I had nothing to be scared of. Until my brother bought the movie and played it every single night.
Have you ever tried to go to sleep to the sound of Linda Blair speaking in tongues? Or those demonic voices wailing as Father Merrin performed the exorcism? I went through this for three months because my brother insisted on watching The Exorcist every single night. He went to bed watching it. I held the covers to my chin and stared at the darkness. He doesn’t do this anymore, thank God, but for those three months (and the occasional night years later), I was afraid to close my eyes.
So, have you seen The Exorcist? I’ve actually seen the entire series, always with my brother. The second one isn’t very good, but the prequel was…astoundingly scary. We saw that one at the theater and I will say this: if I had been around in 1973 and seen The Exorcist at the movies, I’d have had a heart attack.