SXSW 2000 Film Festival and Conference
THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION YOU'VE NEVER SEEND: William Friedkin; with Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty Winn.
35mm, 131min., 2000 (WP)
If the sight of Linda Blair crawling down the stairs like a giant tarantula with blood gushing from her lips isn't enough to raise every hair on the back of your neck, nothing in William Friedkin's expanded version of The Exorcist will. That, of course, is unlikely to happen in a film that, nearly 30 years later, still manages to terrorize in a way that few films in the past 20 years have. William Peter Blatty's tale of a young girl (Blair) possessed by a demon features 11 minutes of previously unused footage, most of which helps to better explain the supernatural basis of the girl's possession. Remastered with a crisp new print and a polished soundtrack, The Exorcist is one of a handful of classic films that doesn't seem outdated and stale. Though it takes a while for Blair's vocal distortions and head-spinning to kick in, this re-release makes things all the more gratifying and heightens the tension exactly because many viewers know what will happen. The Exorcist doesn't rely on manipulative thrills and surprises like many horror films of the Eighties and Nineties because, with its impressive ensemble, masterful direction, and airtight script, there's nothing to be manipulated.
The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen is currently playing as a test run on screens around Austin and two other cities -- Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Athens, Georgia.