William Peter Blatty discusses the Exorcist-part 1
If the Exorcist is the scariest movie ever made is up for debate, but there is no doubt it is the most disturbing. Released in 1973 it was a cultural phenomenon, and seeing it with a real live movie audience was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The screams and groans from the audience still echo in my ears, the movie became a touchstone of manhood, could you get through the movie without wimping out. Barf bags and smelling salts were available in the movie theatre lobby. The audience entered the theatre with trepidation, there was a part of you that wanted to back out. But like a lemmin you followed the one in front of you through the door into the theatre, down the row to a open seat, the bravest of the brave sat the closest to the screen, usually college age men. I remember i sat somewhere in the middle with my family, i was a boy of ten, the youngest of the family. i sat down in my seat, and looked up at the screen wondering what horrors would soon leap out from there, The lights were still on, and people still filing in.
You laughed, and acted brave when the lights were on, there was a buzz in the theatre, everybody showing mock courage, i ate my popcorn and sucked on the straw of my soda pulling the coke into my mouth, delighting in the carbonation , it took my mind off what why was to come.
The screaming began almost immediately, as soon as the lights went out, i swear someone shrieked. I settled into my seat, and my stomach felt like it fell into my lap, sitting there in a dark movie theatre, in movie in which there was so dark toned, i couldn't even see my parents faces, i felt alone, unwatched, unguarded, anything could happen to me in the dark.
Then it began, right from the start it was terrifying , with some kind of demon and a quick cut, and a little girl, a girl not much older than me, and she gets a devil inside her. i swear i felt like that devil was going to jump off the screen and jump into me. My heart was pounding.
And the screaming, and shrieking, from the grownups in the audience, it was the power of suggestion, i know that now, they told you it was the scariest movie ever, and that people were fainting, and they needed barf bags so you believed it. It was by far the most psychologically intense movie ever made, and whats more it was obscene , it was pure pornagraphy in the way it showed violence, and since a child was involved that made it worse , somehow when its happening to a child you lose hope, because a child is innocent and can't defend themselves. The movie was relentless it kept at you, and it was directed with such guile by Friedkin, that when the scene with the bed rising off the floor, and draws opening and closing on their own, i was ready to freak out, the bedroom is your sanctuary your safe place and here a bedroom had been taken over by the devil, could the same thing happen in my bedroom.
Even the names of the people who made the movie were weird. William Peter Blatty, what is a blatty, it sounds like a diseased body part, and William Friedkin, like your Friedkin out, watching this. I swear, i watched most of the movie with my hands over my eyes, but that only made my other senses more acute, i seemed to gain super hearing, and could almost sense the terror in the people around me, and not seeing the scenes only made them worse in my imagination, I could hear the mother in the movie screaming, and chairs scraping against the floor, and all kind of guttural sounds.
It was awesome, glorious, an event. And man didn't i lord it over all the other kids in the neighborhood the next day, when i told them i had done, i had conquered all fear and summoned all courage, i had seen 'The Excorcist"