Blu-ray Review: ‘The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition’ Proves Film’s Timeless Power

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CHICAGO – William Friedkin graced Chicago with his presence at a special event during the 2013 Chicago Critics Film Festival and it’s an evening that I’ll never forget. Not only is the director of classics like “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist,” recently released in a lavish 40th anniversary Blu-ray edition, one of the most important filmmakers of his era but he’s also incredibly funny, smart, and well-spoken. Fans of film owe it to themselves to read “The Friedkin Connection,” released earlier this year and even sampled in this release. And his heavy involvement in this release, including interviews, featurettes, and a commentary, make it a must-own for classic movie fans. That and it’s still one of the scariest movies ever made.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-ray rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

There are many, many things to love about “The Exorcist” but my most recent viewing of the original theatrical edition (the superior to the director’s cut, although it’s nice to have that included here as well for comparison/history) reminded me of how much of a slow burn Friedkin and Blatty’s film is. In today’s market, producers would demand that there was a scare earlier than this film, which sets up its characters, mood, and world before getting truly terrifying. And it gets to the scares through relatable, understandable, horrifying images like a shaking bed. We can imagine walking into our children’s room to see their bed rattling. And if we can imagine that, our brains take us to the next step in which we can imagine the possession of the final act.

I don’t need to tell most of you about the brilliance of “The Exorcist.” Any list of the best horror films of all time that doesn’t include it is incomplete. And if you have a friend or loved one who hasn’t seen it this Halloween season, you have an obligation to correct that oversight. As for the Blu-ray, the transfer on the theatrical edition is solid, not over-polished but nicely-balanced. It could have been slightly more restored, maybe for the 50th anniversary. Yes, I feel old too.

As for special features, the set is LOADED with ‘em, including all of the releases from previous editions and two new special features on a standalone disc. “The Exorcist” is one of the most written about and discussed horror films of all time. To mark its 40th anniversary, Warner Bros. has deftly proven why that’s the case.

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 8, 2013
The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 8, 2013
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

Synopsis:
An innocent girl is evilly possessed - and a doubting priest becomes her last hope. Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn in the two-time Academy Award winner that shocked the world.

New Special Features (all previous special features, including commentaries, are included as well, although not noted on the case):
o 40 Page Book In Which Director William Friedkin Recounts His On-Set Experiences
o Beyond Comprehension: William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist - Forty Years After His Novel Was Published, The Exorcist’s Author, Screenwriter and Producer Returns To Where It All Began
o Talk Of The Devil: A Never-Before-Seen Documentary With Father Eugene Gallagher

“The Exorcist” stars Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn, and Linda Blair. It was directed by William Friedkin. The 40th Anniversary Edition was released on October 8, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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