Number three in date order and not scare order: the Exorcist!
Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty it tells the story of a young girl and her actress mother. The mother begins to notice some peculiar behavoral changes in her daughter.
When things turn really nasty and there is no avoiding her little girl is possessed, as incredible as it seems, the mother contacts a priest to ask about an exorcism.
However, she soon finds the Church is not that quick to respond. First, they will carefully weigh the need for such a thing.
What follows is the heart of the film which is far more horrific than the bits leading up to it.
We see Regan change horrifically as the possession becomes total. There is no going back. She is possessed by demons.
At last Father Karras and Father Merrin, an experienced exorcist arrive to perform the ritual.
The depiction of evil is horrifying as Father Karras finds his own personal life is used by the forces of evil to try to weaken his resolve. But he is undeterred.
Then, as the two priests are performing the exorcism, with the eldery priest leading it, I found myself saying with them: "the power of Christ compels you...!"
Talk about getting swept into a film! I was there, in it with them!
You have to relax after this film, it is that powerful.
Sitting in a theater and not your own home, is how the film should really be viewed--with no distractions whatsoever.
This film is as powerful as the novel was. This is serious stuff.
Church attendance by the way zoomed as a result of this film, so pollsters say and I believe it.
Author James Garcia, Jr., author of the horror novel, Dance on Fire, recently reminded me of the power of the film. I did indeed think back to it and remembered how I felt when I first viewed it. It was heavy going for me!
I viewed it again and found it still was! Hence, its inclusion in my list, thanks James!
It is a film you will never, ever forget. The utter evil that the film addresses is frightening, hair-raising stuff.
If there is such a thing as possession, who among us is safe? What do we do? How do we ensure that we will not be affected?
I am not a fundamentalist, however, I feel and am greatly affected by the power of this film whenever I see it because I experience something that affects and disturbs me.
The film is a classic and deservedly so.
Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair are great as the mother and daughter. There are also powerful performances by Max Von Sydow, Jason Miller and Lee J. Cobb that make this film the masterpiece that it is.
The direction is superb with William Friedkin directing.
next week: Carrie (1976)