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The Exorcist

“I’m telling you that that thing upstairs isn’t my daughter!"

It’s pretty rare for a film to come along that has such a visceral effect on people when they’re watching it where they faint or throw up because it’s so overwhelming. When “The Exorcist” was released just after Christmas in 1973, it had that effect. People flocked to it in droves and seemed to have these heightened reactions to it, whether because they were so scared or they felt it was truly evil. It’s a fascinating case study in how religion and horror draws people to the theatre. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we continue our Ellen Burstyn series with William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist.” We talk about what makes this film so good and so horrific — something having to do with the sense of naturalism that William Peter Blatty, the screenwriter and author of the original novel, wanted in it and that Friedkin brought to it. We talk about the performances — Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb and the demonic vocal stylings of Mercedes McCambridge — and look at what they each bring to the table in this story about a mother trying to protect her little girl from things she doesn’t understand. We chat about Friedkin and his insane directing style that seems to put actors in harm’s way in his quest for the perfect film, a frightening look at the ends justifying the means. We discuss the perfect cinematography brought to the story by Owen Roizman, lending touches to create both bright and dark shots that work in tandem. We look at the amazing makeup effects by Dick Smith, working well in both areas of makeup — creature effects and age makeup. We also touch on the amazing sound design and music — Tubular Bells anyone? And we chat about how well this film did, despite outlandish claims that the film was evil. It’s truly a terrifying film that deserves the praise it gets. It’s one of our favorites and we have a great time talking about it. Tune in!

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