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DVD Review

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The Exorcist Untold
The Story Behind the Classic Horror Movie


Distributor: Reel 2 Reel Films
5 037899 084243


Certificate: E
Release Date: 11 December 2023

Reel 2 Reel Films releases The Exorcist Untold: The Story Behind the Classic Horror Movie, by Robin Bextor. This being a documentary celebrating 50 years since the groundbreaking film depicting the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl, and the church’s attempt to cast it out. This study of the film and the story leading up to its creation explores all aspects, with part-interviews, clips and comments from industry experts, film historians and designers – including Dan Perri, Rich Cline, Dr Sarah Crowther, Professor Chris McGlothlin and Nat Segaloff. More importantly, there are archive clips of novel and scriptwriter William Peter Blatty (and later interview sequences with his wife Julie Blatty), and seldom seen footage of the director William Friedkin (To Live and Die in LA, Sorcerer, Cruising, Killer Joe, Rules of Engagement, 12 Angry Men), who had then just recently been presented with a film award for The French Connection...

The Exorcist Untold begins by showing footage of the original film’s release in the US, with cinema sell-outs, queues around the block, and hysteria regarding its content (fainting, sickness and general distaste – whilst hailing the documentary-like feel of the movie as an immediate masterpiece), with an explanation of a general mood swing of the American population from the comfortable setting of peace and free love to a general darkness created by post-Vietnam War, the seriousness of world events, rebellion and a stark change in culture). As an example, William Peter Blatty made a good career writing popular comedy films starring some big names of the time, but suddenly found himself out of work when the 1970s hit.

The most interesting part of this slightly structurally disorganised documentary is the story of how Blatty struggled to get The Exorcist novel published, and when he did it took a chance appearance on a chat show to take it to number one on the bestseller list. Other highlights include behind-the-scenes footage of Friedkin on set, and the unveiling of a plague for the now (in)famous steps in the film. The downside is that most people who know and love the movie will already know the majority of what is explained in this documentary, and the others will not care that much. Certainly not enough to purchase a DVD. This will no doubt enjoy more of an audience on terrestrial TV late on a Friday or Saturday night.


Ty Power

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