The Exorcist

The Exorcist

the exorcist still

With the premiere of The Exorcist: Believer, the 50th anniversary of the original film, AND the recent death of William Friedkin, there is no WAY we could let the year come to a close without covering one of the most notorious horror films of all time.

Long-time listeners of the podcast know and understand why we tend to shy away from covering such iconic films. What can we possibly say that hasn’t already been said about one of the most notorious films of all time? So we ended up with more of a celebration of the legacy of the film (as one of our Patrons put it) than a typical play-by-play review. But oh boy, was it fun to revisit this film after so long, and be reminded of just how good of a FILM it is overall – horror or otherwise. Enjoy!

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The Exorcist (1973)

Episode 368, 2 Guys and a Chainsaw

Todd: Hello and welcome to another episode of Two Guys and a Chainsaw. I’m Todd.

Craig: And I’m Craig. Well, it has come to this, Craig, finally we are going to be doing The Exorcist. 

Craig: Finally, since you say you can quit bugging me about it every week. 

Todd: I don’t know why you say that. I’ve only been bugging you about it since William Friedkin died.

You, oh god. I haven’t wanted to touch this movie with a 10 foot pole. You know how you and I are. We don’t want to do these movies necessarily. Well, look, we want to talk about these movies. We love these movies, don’t get me wrong. But like, you know, our podcast isn’t generally focused on picking the most mainstream horror movies that are almost mythological and What are we going to say that isn’t already said about it?

And is this episode going to go on for four hours? You know, we can’t possibly squeeze in everything. We’re just going to have to scratch the surface and pick and choose. And, and who knows what the conversation is going to be like, because we don’t plan this shit in advance. So, 

Craig: uh. Right. No, you’re right.

We don’t avoid these movies because we don’t like them. It’s because we like them so much. And because so many people do that. Like everything has been said like that. People have said, well, why don’t you do troll 2? Well, because if you want to learn about troll 2 just watch that really fun documentary about it Like I don’t think feel like we have much to add to the conversation.

Yeah, what I will say is You did kind of wear me down on this one. I kind of dragged my feet on it, but Watching the movie again, and it’s been a long time. I’ve seen this movie many times, but it’s been a long time Watching it again. Just reminded me that this is really just an An amazing movie. Yeah. Like, horror or otherwise, it is an excellent film.

Yeah. And, in addition to that, because I know there’s so much to be learned and read about the things that were going on behind the scenes and, um, stuff like that, I really did a deep dive into this one. I’m like, if we’re, if I’m gonna do Well, let’s do it. Right. So, like, I read everything I could get my hands on.

I watched like five hours of documentary footage. And I learned some things that I didn’t know. So… Yeah, me too. Yeah. So maybe, maybe we can share with, uh… Our listeners, some things that they didn’t 

Todd: already know. Yeah, we can chip a little, a little bit away at that. I mean, it feels apropos anyway. William Friedkin, the reason why we’re doing it now, or at least the reason why it got on our let’s do it soon list, is because William Friedkin passed away in August of this year.

And so this is our tribute episode to him. He’s the director. Before doing this movie, The French Connection was a very big hit for him just before this. And before that, he was more or less a documentary filmmaker. Right. And that’s Interesting, because now watching The Exorcist with the critical eye, it was a lot more obvious to me how he had some of that sensibility.

I mean, it’s still filmed like a drama, but there is a certain sensibility in it that’s a little bit documentary, and that I’m sure we’re going to talk about when we talk about like, the cinematography and how the visuals are presented. And so that’s why we’re doing it. And also, you know, it is the 50th anniversary of this film.

I think I mentioned on an earlier podcast, or maybe I didn’t, that, uh, I was in Thailand about a month and a half ago, and while I was there, in honor of The Exorcist: Believer coming out, they were showing the extended director’s cut of the original movie on IMAX. And I… Wanted to see it, but I end up seeing three other horror movies instead.

Ha ha ha ha ha. So, what we chose to do today is not the original theatrical cut, but the extended director’s cut, which adds, I think, about, not much, like only about ten more minutes onto it. Interestingly enough, it’s not like ten minutes of gore. You know, that we’re missing. It’s not 10 minutes worth of shocking scenes.

It’s actually mostly 10 more minutes of drama, more or less, fleshing out characters and adding little bits in. This was the first time I had seen that. In fact, gosh, this is the first time I’ve seen the exorcist all the way through in decades. I know that the first time I saw it, I was a kid, I remember it very distinctly.

Because I was, uh, I mean it’s this notorious movie, everybody says it’s the scariest movie ever. So it gets this huge build up. And I think I rented it. And, uh, was in middle school at the time. And at this time I had my own TV in my bedroom. It was such a treat for me. And so I watched it late at night, by myself, on this television in my bedroom.

It utterly freaked me out. And then, coincidentally, about three or four days later, my youngest sister woke up screaming in the middle of the night with night terrors. And I don’t know if anybody out there has experienced this. I’ve only experienced it this one time in my life. But, uh, she woke up and the, my parents ran in the room.

I was like, what’s going on Hillary? And, and she was sort of half awake, half not like her eyes were a little open, but you could tell she was still asleep, but she walked into their bedroom. She stood there. My dad’s sitting on the, on the edge of his bed. He’s, he’s trying to calm her down. She’s kind of calm.

She stopped crying and she’s like, and then she just looks at a corner of the room and says. Daddy, it’s over there. Daddy, daddy, don’t let it get me. And my dad, the only time he ever has done this, laid a hand on her and slaps her in the face. Like, goes, Hillary, wake up! And I was sitting in the doorway watching this go down, having seen The Exorcist a few days before, shitting my pants.

That’s funny. So, uh, yeah, I remember this very well. My, my first, uh, introduction to this. And at the time, I thought, yeah, this is one of the freakiest, scariest things I’ve ever seen. Like, it just felt very real, like it could happen. It had the whole religious, uh, angle. I was very religious as a kid. So, like, it just kind of brought things to suburbia, in a way.

You know, it’s not these fantasies of monsters and Freddy Krueger who I was obsessed with, but this ordinary girl in this ordinary family who suddenly becomes possessed with a demon and none of the adults know how to handle it. And, uh, it’s pretty freaky as a 

Craig: kid. Yeah, I don’t remember my first experience with it.

I, I I think my parents showed it to me when I was, I don’t know, not, not young, but early teens. No, I would guess early teens, probably. Yeah. And I do remember telling them, or I remember them telling me, this is the scariest movie. It’s the scariest movie ever. And I did think it was really scary. I grew up Catholic.

I still attend Catholic services. That’s a whole other can of worms. But, um, yeah, I think that, again, just what you said, the fact that evil can infiltrate in the most unlikely of places where, you know, this, this little girl who, we will talk about Linda Blair’s performance, which I just think is great, because she’s, So sweet, almost cloyingly sweet, but Linda Blair can pull it off.

I I’m not annoyed with her. I find her very sweet and cute and, and for, for darkness and evil to be able to find her. And one of the, one of the things that I was. I don’t remember which, uh, I, I watched several documentaries. I watched the episode of Cursed Films on Shudder. I watched The Fear of God, 25 Years of the Exorcist, which came out in 1998.

You can find the festival cut of that on YouTube, and it’s like an hour and twenty, hour and forty minutes, something like that. I think it’s the most comprehensive. And then something else that just got released was there’s this guy who had been teasing on YouTube for like all of October that he had this special treat at the end of the month.

And what he had was somehow he had found a whole lot of unused footage. Like, almost an hour’s worth, and he cut that down to, I think, 40 minutes or something. And I watched that, and there’s a lot of never before seen stuff. You 

Todd: mean, like, behind the scenes footage? What do 

Craig: you mean? Yeah, behind the scenes footage.

Oh, no way. Yeah, some, but also mostly just footage that they didn’t use for whatever reason. Hmm. 

Todd: Alternate takes and things. 

Craig: Yeah, right. And they were also, like, editorial decisions. You know, some things that were cut. Because, you know, for whatever reason, to serve the story or whatever. But then when they, when they went back to do the, the version that we watched, the director’s cut, the version you’ve never seen, there were a lot of scenes that Freekin wanted to put back in.

But they, either the video quality or the auto quality wasn’t up to par, and they couldn’t fix it. Digitally, and he re if, if they couldn’t fix it, he didn’t want it in. Yeah. So, there were scenes that he wanted in, but that they didn’t put back in. And like you said, it’s mostly like dialogue, like there was an extended scene in the beginning of Chris and Regan touring Washington D.

C. Like looking at different monuments and stuff. Not in what 

Todd: we saw, but in what you’re talking about. Right. Yeah, more stuff. Right, 

Craig: right. Exactly. And, and there were other dialogue scenes, and yes, things shot from different angles. There were multiple versions of the ending. Um, the one that we see, which itself was originally deleted and has now been restored.

Um, there was even more of that. Oh, wow. So there was a lot going on, but Anyway, my whole point was, I heard a lot of really interesting perspectives about the movie, and one of them had to do with the religious element, and they, I heard somebody say that horror and religion really go hand in hand, and that’s why they work so well together.

He argued, That horror counteracts the secularization taking place in modern society because horror affirms the existence of good and evil and therefore the existence of God and the devil. And I had never thought of that, but that makes So much sense. 

Todd: Yeah, at a philosophical level it really does, right?

And, and also even, even if you really drill down, you know, so much of horror deals with the supernatural, so. 

Craig: Right. And we, and many people look to their religion for the answers to those scary things. Um, and so, these scary stories kind of keep religious, they, they, fuel the fire of, of religious faith.

That’s fascinating. Especially a movie like this. Because that’s another thing about a movie like this is the world had never seen anything like this. People didn’t know what an exorcist was. 

Todd: It’s really impossible to overstate what a, a bomb this dropped on the film world and just on society in general at that time in the U.

S. Uh, the movie was a phenomenon. Yeah, I 

Craig: mean, histo I mean, if you look into ancient cultures and stuff, you’ll see, uh, talk or imagery of, uh, possession, but it wasn’t a mainstream thing in modern society, and this was the first time anybody ever saw it. And, for many people, Catholics in particular, but potentially Christians and other faiths as well, they could look at this and believe it, like, this could really happen.

My religion tells me… That the devil exists. So that makes it tenfold scary. Right. If it’s something that really could happen to you. Cause this, these, yes, the mom’s a movie star. But, they have a very normal, you know, they’re presented as normal people. They love each other. The daughter is sweet. She likes ponies, and to draw, and to make things out of clay.

Um, she’s playful. And they’re playful together. And if it could happen to them… 

Todd: And you know what? It wasn’t until this viewing of it that I really internalized, because I was a lot younger when I really was paying attention to this movie. And so I think there was a lot in the movie that I didn’t pick up then, that I absolutely was glaring now.

And one of the interesting things is, this is I mean, a very upper class family, right? I mean, we say they’re normal, you know, whatever. Yes, they’re normal because they’re relatable. But, the mother is a movie star. They’re in They’re not in their home. They’re in, uh, D. C. They’re in Georgetown, um, in a rented place.

That I hadn’t realized until I watched it this time. And, you know, they’ve got people there to help them. They’ve got, like, an assistant. She has, like, a Cause movie stars have these, right? personal assistance. And sure, there’s a guy coming in to fix things. She’s got a whole staff. And so this is a woman with pretty much limitless resources, right?

Right. And that’s so important for the story, I think, because it really got to me like this time around, all of the build up to the actual decision. Maybe we need to look to an exorcism. And she exhaust. I mean, she convincingly exhaust Pretty much all of her other possibilities. Because she has the means to.

Right. I mean, A, because she cares about her daughter. But B, she has the means 

Craig: to. There’s so much I want to talk about. Yeah, the fact that she did have limitless resources. But, the idea She didn’t even know what an exorcism was. The idea of The idea to pursue an exorcism came from medical professionals.

Yeah, that was crazy. When they had nowhere else to turn. God, the movie is just so smart. It’s so well written because the medical professionals, they don’t believe. In the spiritual power of exorcism, but they very much believe in the psychological power of suggestion, and that is fascinating, too. It is.

Because I believe that. I, I totally 100 percent believe that some people can convince themselves that they are possessed, and that it would take some sort of outside suggestion To rid them of that delusion. Yeah. Does that make sense? It, 

Todd: yeah, it has to meet the delusion where it is. It has to kind of like say, okay, yes, alright, so you’re possessed, so here, we’re gonna come here, and we’re gonna do this ritual.

It’s rooted in belief, right? If the patient believes it, then you’ve gotta… Uh, use that belief to convince their mind that, uh, you’ve cured them. In a way, it’s kind of like a, in cold stark medical terms, like a placebo. You know, why they actually work, right? Right! And so, it actually makes perfect sense. And it’s so interesting that it’s brought up by the psychiatrist.

Do you have any religious beliefs? No. What 

Craig: about your daughter? No. Why? Have you ever 

Todd: heard of exorcism?

Well, it’s a 

Craig: stylized ritual in which the, uh, rabbi or the priest try to drive out the so called invading 

Todd: spirit. 

Craig: It’s been, uh, pretty much discarded these days except by the, the Catholics who keep it in the closet as a sort of an embarrassment. But, uh, 

Todd: it, uh, has words. In fact, 

Craig: although not for the reasons 

Todd: they think, of course, it’s, it’s purely a force of suggestion, the, uh, the victim’s belief in possession 

Craig: is what helped cause it, so in that same way, the 

Todd: belief in the power of exorcism can make it disappear.

The other thing I thought was interesting since we’re on this topic, this is a particular time period, and I think we’ve talked about this before because we’ve seen this in other horror movies. Where psychiatry is still kind of looked at very skeptically. People are called shrinks. In this movie, instead of jumping right to the mental and the psychiatry, they are first going to the medical.

Even when the medical isn’t showing results and isn’t giving them the test results they expect to see, like they’re getting no evidence, still, like, the doctors want to medicate her and try that. first before going to psychiatry, whereas it seems like today the attitude is almost flipped, right? We don’t want to prescribe, like, the doctor prescribes Ritalin for her, which was kind of funny, uh, to hear that coming out in the 70s.

I didn’t even know Ritalin was a thing back then, honestly. 

Craig: I know, it surprised me too. I thought it was a thing that came around in like the 90s, or 

Todd: the… Hey, correct me if I’m wrong, but nowadays, you know, a person’s going through like a tremendous psychological change, which she goes through. It’s almost like a complete personality change, as her mother describes it anyway, and they’re beside themselves as to what to do with it.

It seems like going and talking to a therapist or psychologist would be the first step, and medication would come as a kind of last resort, in a way. Don’t you think? I don’t know. 

Craig: I think we’re big pill pushers in America. I do think that, I do think that there’s more focus on counseling, but I think that…

Medication is often a first. 

Todd: Maybe I’m just an idealist. Yeah, I 

Craig: think you are. You might be right. You are. But I wanted to just briefly, because that, what the doctor says, and ultimately the the church confirms it just using different words, the church says you have to have faith for it to work. If you don’t believe it won’t work.

What the doctors and the priests are saying are the exact same thing. Mm hmm. If you believe it, and she believes it, it can work. And that just, uh, it just kinda had my head spinning. Again, I’ve seen this before, I’ve thought about these issues before, but I wrote this down because I didn’t want to forget.

To talk about it, I personally believe in God. Now, I have very conflicted feelings about organized religion, but again, different show. But, though I believe in God, I honestly don’t think that we as human beings have the capacity to conceptualize what that really even is. So… Because of that, I think that faith is super, super powerful, and I think that they’re right, they’re all right.

I think that if you believe something enough, then that can have actual, potentially even physical consequences or manifestations. 

Todd: I think it’s more or less scientifically proven to a certain extent this is possible, right? It’s 

Craig: wild. The concept for this story even, William Peter Blatty was the author and he wrote this story out of desperation.

He was a comedy writer. That’s so funny. The work dried up and he couldn’t find work. He said, well, I guess I’ll try something else. He attended Georgetown and had heard a story. of, uh, an event nearby that he was inspired to write this book by. Uh, apparently, uh, a 14 year old boy in a nearby town had started acting strangely.

Uh, there was some poltergeist, uh, activity. The same kind of stuff you see… And his parents weren’t Catholic. I think they were Lutheran, and so they originally, you know, tried one of their own religious leaders to help, and that went terribly wrong. And so eventually they turned to the Catholic Church because, I guess, Catholics are the exorcist du jour.

Todd: Right. They give it gravitas. It worked 

Craig: then. Yeah. And so he was inspired to write this story. He did. Yeah. And have you read the book? I have 

Todd: not, and I’ve always been curious to read it, but no, I haven’t. 

Craig: Have you? Yeah. It’s been a long time ago, um, and I don’t remember a lot. I, I, I feel like the movie is pretty faithful.

There were side characters that you learned more about, um, like, for example, At the party, the one that Regan comes down. By the way, what is her name? Is it Regan or Regan? Because I feel like different people called her different names throughout the whole movie. It’s 

Todd: true, as somebody called her, yeah.

Everyone, I can’t remember what her mother calls her, but yeah. One of the doctors very specifically calls her Regan. Other people calling her Regan. It’s R E G A N, but yeah. How do you pronounce that? Either way, I guess. She probably answers to both. 

Craig: Probably, and that’s kind of a real life thing when you have a name like that.

And maybe that’s why they didn’t correct it. Maybe they wanted it to feel authentic. I would believe that. But that, that scene where Reagan… Comes down her mom’s having a party and she comes downstairs and she says to a man you’re gonna die up there in the book There’s a whole story about that guy That guy’s an astronaut and he’s gonna be going up into space in the next couple days And you may even find off some payoff about that.

I don’t remember But that’s the only reason I knew who that guy 

Todd: was There was a blink and you miss it line at the party was there where it was alluded to that Yeah, he that he was uh, he was an astronaut. Yeah, 

Craig: gotcha So he wrote it, and then, I think that part of the reason that the book is, or the movie is so faithful to the book, is that Blatty wrote a screenplay, but he felt like within the confines of a movie, he was gonna have to do a lot of compressing.

And so he said that he compressed the first third of the book way, way down. And he delivered the script to Friedkin, who, by the way, he picked because… Of his documentarian background and I believe that Friedkin, uh, he, if I remember correctly, I was looking through my notes. I can’t find it. I have six pages of notes.

I think Blatty specifically wanted a director who was not only not catholic but agnostic. He wanted there to be a balance. He wanted it to be presented like a documentary, not leaning into the mysticism or the agnosticism too much either way. And Freeking got the script, and he was like, bro, what did you do?

Like, I wanted to film your book. Like, when I was reading your book, I was… my head. That’s what I want. And so they got back together and they started working at it and Friedkin would say, let’s take a look at this scene. What can we do with this scene? And they would flush it out and they ended up reinstating a lot of what he had originally excised.

Some of it stayed out, like doing the, you know, touring DC, that stayed out, but. A lot of it got put back in. Let it be known, 

Todd: like, like, movie productions are never that simple, right? There’s always other people being considered and things like that. I think Arthur Penn, Stanley Kubrick, Peter Bogdanovich, all those people were at one point considered for directing this.

The studio even hired a guy, Mark Rydell, but Blatty really pushed for Friedkin and, and, and got it. Because, like you said, and he, they were already acquainted. And I think something that I really enjoyed from watching the documentaries… Where it has interviews both with them and with them together. Such a treasure to have these kinds of things.

Just to see the process, you know? The collaborative nature of this work and where people agree and disagree. It seems like, on the whole, these two guys were… True collaborators, like, sometimes a director will just take a script and just make it his own and go off, and the writer’s hardly ever involved again, and then the writer can be frustrated if things don’t turn out the way they do.

In this case, there were instances that, uh, you know, choices that, um, Friedkin made that Blatty did not agree with. But, made peace with over time, or are part of the restored extended cut. At least they talked about it, and they both have convincing arguments, you know, why this should or shouldn’t be in there.

You just do get the sense that, despite these two guys probably having some, some flat out fights and some bickering during the creative process, you look at them now, and, and they seem to be genuinely pretty happy with what… 

Craig: Yeah, oh yeah. I mean, and this was a, a hot ticket. The book had been really popular and, and I think that, you know, they started work on the film soon after the success of the book.

Big name people were interested. Like, um, Blatty wanted Shirley MacLaine. for Chris, which I can actually see. I think she could have pulled it off. The studio wanted, uh, Jane Fonda, Audrey Hepburn. They really wanted Audrey Hepburn, but she would only film if they would do it in Rome. Um, or Anne Bancroft. And I, I think that it came, Jane Fonda basically told them to f off.

She was, you know, right, uh, off the heels. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. She was anti establishment anything. Yeah. She didn’t want to work for some big studio. Ellen Burstyn called Friedkin. She knew him. They were familiar. And she called him and she says, I want that part. And he said, I don’t know. The studio really wants these other folks.

And she said, I just, I really have a strong feeling that this is my role. And they kept in contact and eventually he said, look, it’s down to you and this one other woman. Are you going to see her? And he said, Yeah, I’m gonna see her. I’m going to New York to see her tomorrow. And then he called her back the next day, and she said, Did you see that woman?

And he said, No. I ran into her in the deli last night, and she looked like hell, so I canceled the meeting. And Ellen burst and said, Billy, that’s not fair. I look like hell when I’m at the deli and he said, Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And that’s how Ellen Borsten got the role of Chris McNeil.

And she’s brilliant in it. And I had to look it up. But she was 40, 41 when the movie was filmed. Which I also like. I don’t think that this would, I mean, she’s still very beautiful and glamorous, and she’s a movie star in the context of the movie, but she doesn’t look like a fresh faced starlet. She looks like somebody who’s lived a little bit, and that’s the other thing, something else that I hadn’t considered.

I always remembered that there was no dad around, and going into this movie, I was like, where is Reagan’s dad? And they do address it. I think that they’re at the beginning of Of a separation or a divorce And reagan’s dad is out of the picture. I think he’s in rome. He’s overseas somewhere I assume he’s in the film industry as 

Todd: well Well, her mother is still very prominently wearing a diamond ring on her hand.

Yeah, I don’t think they’re divorced. 

Craig: I think they’re Getting divorced. Yeah, because it’s also suggested that uh, ellen burston chris Maybe seeing other men At least Reagan thinks so. Right. You can bring Mr. Dennings if you like. Mr. Dennings? Well, you know, it’s okay. Well, thank you very much, but why on earth would I want to bring Burke on your birthday?

You like him. Yeah, I like him. Don’t you like him? Hey, what’s going on? What is this? Huh? You’re gonna marry him, aren’t you? Oh my God, you can’t have me married, Bertennings, don’t be silly, of course not. Where’d you ever get an idea like that? Bet you like him. Of course I like him. I like pizzas too, but I’m not gonna marry one.

You don’t like him like Daddy? Reagan, I love you, Daddy. I’ll always love you, Danny, honey, okay? Brooke just comes around here a lot because, um, well, he’s lonely. Don’t got nothing to do. No, I heard differently. Oh, you did? What did you hear? Hmm? I don’t know. That doesn’t really go anywhere. But she may be or maybe not, but it really struck me this time.

She’s very frustrated. She’s trying, you know, there’s a scene where she tries to get her husband on the phone because he hasn’t even called Reagan on her birthday. And, and she’s so angry at him. But it really struck me this time. This woman is facing this on her own. The only thing that she can do is to reach out for help because she…

And I say alone. Fortunately, she has a staff, a very loyal staff, who stand by her through this insanity. Which is almost unbelievable. She must pay them really well. Yeah, right. Or they, or they really care about Regan, which I could buy. But she’s alone. And what, what a terrifying thing to face alone. And, and it’s her, her child.

But ultimately she says at one point that she knows that that thing up there is not her daughter. And I, I think that the stakes are very high. I think that she’s fully aware that she might lose. 

Todd: Well, I felt this way even when I was a young kid seeing this movie. I still feel this way now. I feel like this movie’s really about her.

I think the emotional center of the film is her. It is her struggle with, uh, what’s going on. Her looking and searching for answers. Her at the end of her rope. You can see the frustration and the fear in her face, and so much of this movie there’s no exercising going on. Right. In fact, the exorcism is, is almost like a footnote at the end.

It’s the last 

Craig: 20 minutes. It’s so small. I paid attention because I had said when we did Exorcist Believer, I had said, I thought that this exorcism went on for days, and it does not. No. It only goes for maybe like an hour, but I do stand by that Reagan’s This progression is more disturbing. But also more gradual.

Yeah. And, uh, I think that that’s more effective. Those girls in Believer just, boom. They were, they were possessed. 

Todd: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I think if you were to, like, take a frame by frame, like, second by second, minute by minute comparison, they’re pretty close. Like, you take the amount of time we spend with Regan, and the amount of time we spend with those other girls, Well, the one girl particularly.

It’s kind of about the same, like the amount of time we spend with them before they get to the exorcism. The difference here is that the time that we do spend with Regan in the beginning, she’s with her mom. True. Like, we see the mom and, and, uh, Regan dynamic, uh, very deeply. In fact, it’s kind of an interesting choice, but smart, where I would, I think about half of that.

We’re going to be seeing a lot of Reagan in bed later possessed. Even 

Craig: when she’s healthy, she’s in bed most of the time. 

Todd: Exactly! That’s my point, right? So it provides a really great contrast. In the beginning, we see this sweet girl who’s like laughing at her mom and kind of joking with her about this guy that she thinks maybe she’s dating or whatever.

Asking just little silly little girl questions. Not silly, but little girl questions. Typical stuff. She makes some art downstairs and shows it to her mom, and that’s about it. There’s not a lot. Like you said, they did shoot more. They didn’t end up including it, but it’s effective enough. 

Craig: Yes, but I don’t know.

I just, uh, She is, I think a lot of it comes down to Linda Blair’s performance. By the way, I agree with you about it being Chris McNeil’s story. However, I find it ironic that they bench her almost completely in the end. Oh, right. For 

Todd: the 

Craig: exorcism. For the third act. And, remind me to come back to Linda Blair.

I really want to talk about her for a second. But, they shouldn’t have benched her, because they set out to present this exorcism in the most true to form way possible. Like, the rite that they read from is the actual Catholic rite of exorcism. But, they didn’t do it correctly, because there never should have been only two other people in there with…

The demon. Oh, yeah. Well, I don’t know this from my Catholic school. We never talked about exorcism in Catholic school I hope not. I’m taking I’m taking the word of internet sleuths Apparently there should have always been at least and maybe exorcist believer got this more, right? There should have been at least four other people in the room.

There should have been the two priests There should have been a medical doctor Who would be there to monitor her medical health and to administer sedatives as necessary. And a member of the possessed’s family of the same gender. To help restrain. 

Todd: Well, it kind of makes logical sense. It does. Like, why did they shut her 

Craig: out?

Well, maybe she If I were her, I couldn’t do it. She sees the worst of it anyway. But, I don’t know if I could do that. I mean, to see By the end, Regan, her body is ravaged. It’s just It’s 

Todd: horrible. Yeah. Well, I don’t know if I could be outside of the room, honestly. Like, I would, no matter what, I mean, as disturbing as it is, I would want to be in there with those guys, seeing what’s going on.

I guess. I don’t think I could live with myself if something happened and I wasn’t there to witness it or be able to potentially intervene. Yeah, that’s a good point. It was hard enough for me to sit out in the hallway while my wife was giving birth. I did not expect to be put in that position and, uh, and I didn’t like it one bit, so.

Craig: Sure. Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. That makes sense. Going back to Regan, I really think that part of the reason that it works so well is that Linda Blair is just so good in the role. Oh yeah. Whoever was speaking on the documentary, I don’t remember if it was Friedkin, I think they said they looked at hundreds if not thousands.

And, uh, Linda Blair’s agency that represented her didn’t even put her up for it, but, uh, her mother, uh, knew, took her there, and, um, she got, she had to read, and she said they took her away from her mother and put her in a room and handed her a script and told her to read, and she said it was the most vulgar, filthy, cringey.

Language she had ever heard in her entire life. She was like 15. She said she walked out of the audition thinking, What am I going to tell my mother? I can’t tell her what they made me say in there. But, uh, but they loved her and they did a screen test with her and Ellen Burstyn and… They cast her, and she’s great.

She’s a beautiful young girl, uh, and just so fresh faced and young, looks younger than she is, especially in the face, and just has the most radiant smile. She just has a glow about her. And then beyond that, she can act. Yeah. I mean, some of the stuff that they ask her to do is crazy, and acting under makeup like that is not easy.

It’s, in fact, really challenging. She has some subtlety of movement in her facial expression that is absolutely haunting and terrifying. She’s great. She’s absolutely 

Todd: great. Before and after the exorcism, honestly, I thought that the acting with her mother just seemed very off the cuff and very genuine. Oh yeah!

Almost as though it were improvised, you know? There’s that 

Craig: scene, like you said, before she’s possessed or is showing any… Signs of it. Chris is putting her to bed and they’re talking about, you know, what should we do for your birthday? And it’s, you know, they are nose to nose. They’re speaking in very, very quiet, almost whisper tones, and it’s just so intimate and so believable.

I 100% believe them as mother and daughter and, and the love and and comfort between them is just. Completely genuine. It’s fantastic. I 

Todd: believed it. I do think that a modern audience might look at that and say, it was a little too sweet. Yeah. , you know, it, it, it was very cloying and sweet between the two of them.

Almost like the, you know, they’re really, really pumping it up so that, you know, the, the possession is, is so much worse by contrast. That’s, 

Craig: I think that’s fair. I don’t think that it’s. We have sweet moments 

Todd: with 

Craig: each other. Yeah, my sister has kids that age and they still snuggle and, you know, I, I, I think in real life that happens.

You know, we don’t do it in public, it’s considered, you know, for the kid, it’s, you know, it’s embarrassing for the kid, like they’re too big for that. But in intimate moments at home, I think that those, I know, I have friends my age who have, Teenage sons, 15, 16, 17 year old sons and their sons still want to snuggle with their moms on the couch.

Like, I know that this is a real thing. Yeah. So anyway, I get it and I, I don’t disagree with you. I think some people might think it’s a, a step too far. Um, but I didn’t and, and I think Ellen Burstyn is, everybody’s great in it. I mean, I could go on and on. Ellen Burstyn said in one of the interviews, she said, I knew we were trying to make a good movie and I knew we were trying to make a scary movie, but I don’t think any of us knew how good.

it would be. Um, I, I thi of one of those lightening where everything, the dir like there was a lot of s With this kind of material. Right. I’m still Shocked that any studio would put this out because they wouldn’t today. No, no way. Maybe A24, 

Todd: maybe. Well, it’s also shocking that this got an R rating and that is another reason I think a lot of people could I’m sure Robert Roger Ebert had some something to say about this, about how could the same studio that rejected XYZ have put an R rating on The Exorcist at that time.

It seems like it was almost an inside job, where the president of the MPAA kind of saw it and more or less assured Warner Brothers that they would make sure that it got an R instead of an X, which was the only other. Option at the time and would have obviously killed the movie’s chances with the public.

It probably 

Craig: deserved an x Like to call this movie vulgar and blasphemous I think is fair. I don’t think that it disrespects religion. In fact, I think it champions 

Todd: religion. Although, this was the same, I mean, this era, this is Watergate, it’s happening right now, it’s 1973, Deep Throat was out around this time, actually a pretty exciting time for American cinema, but also just a flashpoint for culture as far as, like, there were Vietnam War protests going on, the president’s under investigation, and these movies are coming out like people are, Are just questioning everything, everything feels extreme and uh, and cinema was really starting to reflect that and get extremely experimental.

Um, and what mainstream audiences were getting exposed to at this time and going out and seeing in droves and talking about incessantly is pretty shocking even to hear now. You know, down the street, grandmothers and people going to see Deep Throat and chatting about it, you know, lining up around the block to see that.

This movie, people were supposedly fainting in the theaters and throwing up and running out, and it was just all over the news. I mean, what a time period. Yeah. Some of that lightning in a bottle, I think, came from this moment when it was released. And then, like you said earlier, like, the things that this girl has to do, and you know, we can’t watch a movie without…

Also sort of thinking about the actors and, and sometimes being a little worried for them, you know, in the background when it comes to kids anyway, right? This girl’s, you know, masturbating with a crucifix and saying all these horrible things. And actually, even in retrospect, listening to all the interviews with the people and reading stuff, I am not entirely clear on how all that went down and who did what, because there’s a lot of contradictory information from the mouths of the people involved.

Craig: Right. There was, uh, another woman, there were some things that they felt like they couldn’t have a young girl do, and so they hired a young woman who was approximately the same stature as Linda Blair. Her name was Eileen Dietz. Under the makeup, you can barely tell that it’s a different person. In fact, had I not known, I don’t think that I would have questioned it.

But you’re right, there is some kind of contradictory things, because some things that I read said that she did the masturbation scene. But, in that new footage, uh, thing that I just watched, there’s footage of Linda Blair doing that scene. 

Todd: Yes, and Linda Blair herself says she did it. 

Craig: Right, she says that she, uh, she didn’t know what masturbation was.

That wasn’t something that she had come to understand as a young person yet. Um, and the way I, the footage of her doing it, it really just looks like she’s stabbing down. I would guess that maybe that’s the direction she got just stabbed the cross. Down as far as you can 

Todd: yeah Well, she she said in the interview that she had a box between her legs with a sponge in it That was filled with the red, you know blood or whatever stabbed it into it So she says she did it but then they said that they had this deets duke 

Craig: gal do it.

Maybe she did the lines Because the lines are pretty vulgar. And, and Linda Blair was a Christian, and still is, I assume. Um, but she said that her, and I have no, I don’t have any idea what denomination of Christianity she is, but she said that in her religious faith, there just was no talk of the devil. So, the devil wasn’t something she was scared of.

It was a, a character, like, Frankenstein. Um, nothing to really be frightened of. She wasn’t troubled. Emotionally or psychologically in the making of this movie at all. Again, I don’t know. I don’t know what Eileen Dietz did. She, uh, you know, is featured in the interviews and the documentaries and stuff, and she talks about it, and she claims that she did some of the parts that they felt were inappropriate for Linda Blair to do.

Um, but what parts those are exactly remains… The footage of Reagan in that scene that I saw, the newly uncovered footage, she was in a very different makeup look. So, I think that, um, they probably shot it with different looks, too. Ah. I don’t know. 

Todd: It’s possible. Uh, I don’t know. It’s, it’s so contradictory and I think more than anything it just reflects that they were nervous about how the public was going to take it too because Linda Blair straight from her mouth says, I didn’t know what masturbation was at this time, yada, yada, yada.

However, Friedkin tells a story that gets pushed around a lot. Said that when he interviewed her, she, he asked her, you know, Do you know these things? And do you know what the Exorcist is about? And she told him she’d read the book. Oh, 

Craig: I didn’t read 

Todd: that. Yeah, apparently he says she told him she read the book.

Well, how could she read the book and not know that? And then… He says that he asked her what she meant, and she, he says that she says to him, This girl was possessed by the devil and did a whole bunch of bad things, like pushing a man out of her bedroom window, hitting her mother across the face, and she masturbates with a crucifix.

And then Freed can ask her, Do you know what masturbation is? And then she says, It’s like jerking off, isn’t it? And then giggles a little bit. And then he says, Have you ever done that? And she goes, Sure, haven’t you? So like, I mean, that’s a cute little story to tell. But it could also be a cute little story he made up, you know, to like, get people off his back.

It’s a little too perfect. 

Craig: Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, there was so much controversy after because she faced so much, she, the actress, Linda Blair, faced so much scrutiny afterwards because people believed that she had been really spiritually or psychologically traumatized by this and she was asked about it incessantly and in the most pleasant way would say no.

So I’m perfectly fine. It’s just a movie. I was, I was acting. But not only did they think that she was nuts, but they also thought that because she had participated in it, she was evil. And the studio had to hire bodyguards for it. And in one of the documentaries I watched, the documentarian asked, did they have to hire bodyguards for you?

And she said, I don’t talk about that. I won’t talk about that. Next question. Wow. So I have no idea what kind of Okay. violence or threats that she may have experienced, and for how long? That’s nuts. 

Todd: Oh, crazy people can come out of the woodwork, man. Something like this. And yeah, she 

Craig: wasn’t psychologically harmed, but both she and Ellen Burstyn were seriously, physically harmed, and sustained injuries that they have had to deal with for the rest of their lives.

Hmm. Linda Blair said in one of the documentaries, she said, let me get this, let me put this out there first and foremost. Uh, Billy Friedkin is a genius. He is an absolute genius. Um, she said, but sometimes, when you’re working with a genius, Things can get crazy. The most, for her, the effects in this, of course, are all practical.

There were three different beds built to perform different functions as far as levitation and shaking and all that stuff. All of, uh, the stuff like the levitation, Um, her insane body movement, her impossible, physically impossible body movement, her spider walk, all of that was done with mechanics and, and wires.

But anyway, there was one scene in particular where Regan basically is just bending at the waist, flopping up and down on the bed. And… It looks amazing, because it’s so fast, it’s, it’s impossible, it’s humanly impossible, no person could do that. But the way that it worked was she was built, she was strapped into a contraption, that she said was a mold of her back, a hard metal mold of her back, that she was then strapped into and it laced up on the sides.

And when they were filming the scene, the lacing came loose, so she wasn’t secured, she wasn’t, You know, tight against that brace and so what it kept doing every time it would go up and down It was smacking her on the back repeatedly over and over again this hard metal plate. Well her lines were Stop it.

Stop it. It hurts. Please it hurts So as she was literally screaming in pain and begging for them to turn it off They thought that she was just acting And at one point she said, she said, I think I said, no, really, it hurts, but. She said somebody thought they heard her say Billy, the name of the director, so they stopped it, and you can see the footage.

I mean, she just is sobbing, and clearly in excruciating pain, and that’s the footage they used. Ugh, it’s wild. And she’s, she cracked her spine. They didn’t even take her to the doctor. 

Todd: Yeah. And there’s a scene where Ellen Burson’s characters thrown against the, uh, window by the force of the kind of poltergeist type forces in there.

So they actually interviewed the guy who did these effects and, uh, he was the one who, you know, was basically yanking that cord back. To pull her and after the first take the guy said look it was a it was a perfectly great shot He thought it was fine Well, william freekin said no I want to do it again Allen burst and said I really don’t want to do this again.

It really hurt. I could really injure myself 

Craig: She specifically said he’s pulling 

Todd: too hard. Yep And so, after some argument, Billy just kind of looks at her and goes, Okay, well, you know, keep it softer, do it softer next time. And then she said, as he walked away, she could see that they exchanged a glance.

Like William Friedkin was telling the stunt guy, Just go ahead and, just go ahead and pull it. Hard, really hard this time. Harder. And he did it. He says he did it. He admitted it. He says it on camera. And of course he pulled her back. And according to him in the interview, he’s like, and then, you know, of course she was in pain.

But then she went to her chiropractor and got checked out and everything was, uh, he said everything was fine. But no. Ha ha ha ha. She, didn’t she fracture her tailbone or something? 

Craig: Something. I mean, I think it caused her chronic pain for the rest of her life. Were she and Friedkin dating? I never heard anything about that.

There were a couple of things that she said in the, in some of the interviews that made it sound like they were, but I don’t know. But they, you know, more than one of the actors said that he was just kind of… Crazy, and he would do things that we would probably consider completely unethical today. 

Todd: He would shoot guns off 

Craig: near them.

Right, to elicit responses out of them. The guy that played Father Charis said he shot a shotgun off within inches of my head. Which is just… 

Todd: Bad like you don’t do that. You can kill someone’s hearing like right. I just it just blows me away and Max von Sydow I’ll mentioned it to about how he would shoot these guns off to try to get startled reactions for him And he kind of rolled his eyes.

He said look I’m an actor. I don’t need this just Don’t. Right, but he was 

Craig: also so diplomatic about things. Like he said, do I think that William Friedkin, uh, is a brilliant filmmaker? I do. I was entirely unfamiliar with his methods. Like, like, he’s a lunatic. Um, but he makes a good movie. At the 

Todd: end of the day, it doesn’t seem like anybody hates William Friedkin for anything that he subjected him to.

But they’re all, they are all saying, look, he did subject him to some stuff. And maybe not all of it was necessary. 

Craig: Right. Certainly questionable. But I think they’re all proud of the final product. So, you know, what are you gonna do? Trash talk your own movie? 

Todd: I mean, you get it with a lot of directors, right?

Stanley Kubrick is probably the biggest example. James Cameron. You know, these guys, uh, people love to work with them, they fight to work with these guys even, even though they know, you know, that they’re, might, they might end up crying half the time, you know, because of so called abuse. Ha ha ha ha, you know.

Craig: Right. Yeah, and then, you know, other, suppose, this is one of those films that they say, you know, is cursed or whatever, it’s, it’s the first episode of Cursed Films on, Shudder, which I had seen before, but I re watched for this, and in re watching it, really, there’s not, they don’t divulge, it’s only, it’s less than 30 minutes, and they really don’t go very deep into it, and in fact, they spend a good portion of the time talking about modern day exorcists, which made me very uncomfortable, because it seemed like charlatans who were taking advantage of people, uh, I didn’t care for that.

So, supposedly it’s cursed. Now, Ellen Burstyn said in the interview that up to nine people in some way connected to the film died, um, either during shooting or immediately thereafter. Now, some of those connections were really tenuous, like 

Todd: Yeah, somebody’s uncle, you know somebody’s 

Craig: father. Right, right.

Exactly, like, uh, Linda Blair’s grandfather died. Von Cito’s, uh, brother died on the first day of shooting. Uh, the special effects guy who cooled the room for them died. Um, she said there was like a cameraman or an assistant whose wife was pregnant and the baby died. And, and she listed off a bunch of others too.

I was really, I thought it was very insightful when Vansito said, you know, if it had happened on a two week shoot, sure. That would be, you know, some pretty amazing coincidence. He said, but when you’re shooting like a six month, nine month shoot, things are going to happen. And he said, it makes for good publicity, but.

Things are going to happen over a six to nine month 

Todd: period. Even Peter Blatty, William Peter Blatty at one point kind of said look, I, I, I think that, um, the studio and in particular Friedkin were really sort of playing that up early on, this idea that the set might be cursed. He made a few offhand comments that maybe some people picked up on and then they all sort of decided to roll with.

Just to, you know, increase publicity around the movie. Linda 

Craig: Blair said that much, that much later, years and years later, she became more friendly with somebody who had worked PR on the film and that PR person had told them that they really intentionally, uh, played up the hype. Uh, for PR, and that it totally, 100 percent worked.

It worked, yeah. Yeah, I mean, it was, it was brilliant advertising, you know, saying people were fainting, and you know, they had kind of a viral, uh, ad campaign. The first trailer they released had to be pulled because, um, it had the potential to cause epileptic seizures, and the trailer is, uh… You know, it seems kind of quaint by today’s standards, but I can totally see how at the time it would have been very compelling and and scary.

Oh, I I would have been first in line, I’m sure. Mm 

Todd: hmm. It’s like a Blair Witch project type sort of thing. I, I, I, you know what? There’s something that completely bypassed me. The first time I saw this, at least it was not in my memory. That for me, was one of the most horrifying scenes in the movie, and it shocked me was the angiography scene.


Craig: that whole sequence. I meant to say something about that before. Was it new?

tests are horrifying. And I think that that is intentional. It does so much to make you sympathetic towards Reagan because the things that she has to go through early on, even before she’s, you know, fully, possessed, are just an absolute nightmare for anybody, but especially a child. And she looks genuinely terrified and uncomfortable.

Ah, it’s awful. And especially that scene, which I know is a special effect. Then it’s, oh god. Oh, 

Todd: yo, I mean, and, gosh, you know what, I was having flashbacks to, um, when my son, I was on a trip, uh, I was in Hong Kong, and, uh, we were at the airport, and he slipped on a thing and fell and hit his head on a table.

He was not very old, he was like, uh, two, maybe two and a half, not even two and a half. He slept and he hit his head on the table, and it being Asian, being Hong Kong, like, people make this big deal out of it. Plus, like, I don’t think the airline wants to, you know, be sued or anything like that. And so, we ended up taking this big diversion where we had to go to this hospital, and the doctor insisted on x raying his head.

You know, I said, okay, Kenji, you know, we’re gonna put your head down here into this thing and it was just this sort of foam Thing that was big enough to put his head in because you know when you get an x ray Even though it’s only a couple seconds like you’re not supposed to move Right and they brought this thing down within inches of his face and he’s in this thing And he’s looking terrified, and I said, Don’t worry, it’s, it’s just gonna be real fast, it’s gonna be real quick, they’re just taking a picture of your, of your, of your inside.

And, he was very nervous about it, they finished it, and then the doctor’s like, Okay, turn him to the side. Cause they wanted the side one! And I’m like, Oh shit, I gotta go through this again! And it was even worse, cause then his head, his And it just, it’s scary, you know? A hospital can be a scary place, no matter how you’re being reassured.

And especially at this time, these machines, oh my god, they’re loud? 

Craig: Yeah, I mean, MRI machines are still loud. They still make that loud banging noise. I don’t know why they can’t get that figured out. Right? But it was, it was even worse. I mean, 

Todd: gosh. Oh, and you know what? It’s horrible. The sound design, by the way, since we’re talking about it, is brilliant in this movie.

I think that they got an Academy Award for it and deserved it because, especially that opening sequence in Iraq, the way that the sounds blend together and just kind of come together in this cacophony of… It’s almost like a score without music. It’s… 

Craig: And it was like hamster wheels and bees in jars. They were just recording all of these strange sounds and then manipulating them and laying them over one another to just make this really, uh, unsettling background.

And then Friedkin himself went in and just recorded a bunch of, like, moans, like, wahhh. Yeah, so much. And then they manipulated all that and laid it over different parts. Brilliant. And painstaking pain, painstaking, it shows the voice. Reagan’s voice. They spent like 150, they recorded all of, she recorded the lines and they spent like 150 hours manipulating her voice.

And Friedkin was like, don’t like it. And so they had to start all over again. And they got, uh, Mercedes McCambridge, this actress, um, to do it. And she seemed like a nut. Yeah, she was a it’s not hard to imagine the rage and then she would just come out with these crazy line reads Um, this is in the interview that i’m talking about and she says that she ate raw eggs and smoked and drank A lot to record and they put her in restraints To record the lines, so that she would feel like she would act it, too, the same way that Linda Blair would, would, even though she never met Linda Blair.

And Friedkin himself said that he was stunned what this woman allowed them to put her through. And coming from him, I can’t even imagine. But yeah, all those medical tests were an absolute nightmare, and that one where they… Put, like, a catheter in her neck. I have never seen that done. Apparently, it’s a real procedure where they’re going into an artery and they’re injecting some sort of dye so that they can…

Yeah. see it on the MRI or the brain scan, or whatever, because they think she has a lesion. The blood is just squirting out of it and… So gross, and… And that was a real medical professional. Friedkin wanted actual professionals where he could get them. So a lot of these medical prof Most of these medical professionals were not actors.

Uh, at least two or three of the people playing priests in the film are priests. Are priests! 

Todd: I was surprised! 

Craig: That surprises me too! I’m surprised that the church sanctioned that. But they’re still priests now, so apparently the church was okay with it. 

Todd: They are. You know, God, this, like I said, this episode could go on for two hours because there’s so much interesting stuff to unpack here, but the guy who played Father Dyer…

Who ended up having a bigger role in the extended cut than he had in the original. Boy, I would really love to talk about him, but we might not have time. 

Craig: Well, I was just gonna say, in that scene where she’s getting that, where they’re doing all those tests, there’s one technician who pulls her down onto the table and he says like, I’m gonna pull you down now a little bit, honey, or something like that.

He’s only got one line, good looking guy. He would go on to murder… a reporter and get caught for it. That’s another one of the cursed connections that there’s an actual murderer in this movie. And there is, he went on like a drug and alcohol and sex fueled bender with a reporter for some magazine in New York city, I think.

And, uh, he ended up killing the guy. Then he made an anonymous phone call to somebody. And in the phone call, he said something about if anybody, if he got caught, he’d never be able to practice again. And that basically led them to him, and he eventually confessed. So, that’s crazy. 

Todd: Was there anything about Dyer in that Cursed Films thing?

I don’t think so. He, well, I mean it’s not, I don’t know. You know, like I said, like, okay, you’re involved in the movie, and then something happens to you decades later, and now the film’s cursed, like, it’s kind of, it’s kind of silly. But, I mean, interesting bit of trivia. That guy… Uh, was, uh, a priest and then he taught at, um, a couple universities, uh, there and he had some bit of notoriety from his role in the film, even though he was not an actor.

He’s another guy that Freed can really put the paces through. I think at the end when he comes up to Father Karras and gives him his last rites, basically his last confession while he’s laying in the pavement bleeding to death. Um, he, Friedkin wasn’t getting the reactions out, the, the authenticity that he thought he should get out of this guy.

And so he says, do you trust me? And he’s like, yeah, and he just slaps him in the face a couple times. Oh yeah. And then he said, you see me shaking in that scene, and it is because I am, I’m genuinely shaken up. But um, He, uh, at night, uh, God, uh, I think it was 2019 or so, was accused of molesting some kids back in the mid 80s while he was teaching at some place.

And I don’t think that, um, Much came of that because he died, uh, what, last year? Last year or the year before? He was either 2020 or 2021, um, before, before all that could come to trial. So, uh, he was, uh, fired from the university that he worked, and a building that had his name on it was, uh, renamed. Oh, darn.

And some stuff kind of 

Craig: fell out from that, too. I would think that that would suggest that there was… 

Todd: Must have been. 

Craig: Some strong evidence. There must have been. Right, right. Which, that’s, that’s terrible. It’s horrible, it’s 

Todd: sad. Uh. 

Craig: It’s one of the reasons that I’m very ambivalent about organized religion.

The Catholic Church does not have a good history. No, they don’t. Especially in that regard. I did want to say, though, that scene was particularly moving to me this time because this is something that I should have known. Obviously, we’re not going to talk about the plot. The episode’s almost over. We assume you’ve seen this movie.

If you haven’t, go out and see it. See it immediately, but one of the parts of the plot that I really hadn’t considered before it ends very abruptly with, uh, father Marin dying off screen. Now, presumably the demon did something that caused him to have a heart attack, but he was very frail. Anyway. Yeah.

That point 

Todd: is, is made, yeah. 

Craig: I find that scene very haunting when Karras First of all, why were either of them in there alone? That never should have happened. Oh, right. And, but Karras comes in and finds him dead and, and Regan is kind of curled up s in a sitting position, but just, uh, kind of curled up and giggling, and, God, I know I’ve seen this a million times, but it’s so jarring to see Father Karras attack her and pick her up, get her down on the floor, and beat her!

Brutally. And say, take me, come into me when that is not something that has ever been addressed before as even a possibility. And then the demon immediately does, which makes me question, was that his end game all along because it seemed, because father Karis was fragile even before. He was called upon. Oh yeah.

He was clearly already connected in some way. He was having visions. Maybe, uh, that was the demon’s goal all along, and maybe he won. But, the demon jumps into him, but he has enough resistance that he’s able to throw himself out the stairs, and he falls down to the bottom of the stairs. And fa A crowd gathers.

I just remembered him being dead. But a crowd gathers, and Father Dyer asks, Do you want to make a confession? And he moves his hand, which Father Dyer takes as a yes, which they have. The right to do, just FYI, priests can make that determination on their own. He says, are you sorry for all your sins? And he moves his hands again.

That hadn’t really occurred to me, but that’s a really important plot point that I don’t think that Catholics would maybe, or non Catholics would maybe understand. In that moment, Father Dyer has absolved Father Karras of all of his sins. So, he will go to heaven. Like, if, if Catholic belief is correct, a priest has the power to absolve you of all of your sins.

Anytime. That’s kind of a loophole of Catholicism, like we’re made to feel really guilty about our sins, but really all you have to do is a confession and you’re forgiven. If you’re truly sorry, that’s the caveat. You have to really truly be sorry. Um, but he gives him his last rites, and in giving him his last rites, he ensures his entry into heaven.

And that’s something that I had never considered before, and it’s kind of a big deal. Ha ha ha 

Todd: ha! Something that I had never noticed before either in this movie, that I wonder if… I didn’t find a lot of discussion about it online. I found some Reddit threads where some people brought it up. It was, it was obvious to me, or at least it seemed to be the strong implication that Father Dyer is gay.

Because… He, of his piano playing, uh, he talks about how he wants He’s big into show tunes, yeah. And there’s another comment or two that he makes at some point. And I did kind of wonder, he visits Father Dyer, he seems to be the most concerned about Father Dyer. He visits him in his, um, dorm room at the, at the university and, uh, puts him to bed.

Yeah, that 

Craig: scene kind of gave me a little bit of pause. There was quite a bit of touching going on in that scene. Mm 

Todd: hmm. So those two scenes, and then at the end, he’s the guy who’s just, he seems the most shaken up by what’s going on, and when he’s, and Father Dyer, Father Karras is clearly troubled by, definitely by his mother, you know, that’s a whole thing we don’t, we can’t really talk about right now, but like, there’s definitely the guilt around his mother, and that seems to be all the movie is overtly telling us.

I did wonder if there’s a subtext, I don’t know, you read the book, I don’t know if there is or not. I don’t think so. But if there was. A little bit of Catholic guilt over homosexuality 

Craig: for him? I feel like that would be something that I would remember and I don’t but I could be wrong It is I’ve read the book once.

In fact, I listened to it while I was working out So I don’t I I can’t say with any certainty. I don’t remember it We barely talked about Father Karas at all, which is too bad. What what’s his name? 

Todd: Damien Oh, 

Craig: the actor’s name. Jason, uh, Jason Miller. Jason Miller, and, and Friedkin had seen him on Broadway, like, uh, the studio wanted Jack Nicholson, or Paul Newman, and I think at one point they were really pushing for Marlon Brando, which would have been terrible.

And Friedkin said absolutely no to, uh, Marlon Brando. First of all, Marlon Brando was already kind of losing it at this point. Secondly, Friedkin was completely 100 percent right in saying, if we cast Brando, it will just be a Brando piece. Like, it won’t be its own movie, it’ll be a Brando movie, and he’s totally right.

But, but, uh, Jason Miller puts in an excellent performance, and it was nice to see him in the interviews, because we know… That when they made Exorcist 3, they wanted him to reprise his role, which he ultimately did, but he had to split it with Blad Brad Dourif, because he was in such bad shape from his alcoholism.

Like, he couldn’t, he couldn’t remember lines and, 

Todd: and stuff like that. Mm, yeah, they did some creative things to kind of, like, get around that. That was, uh… Something we talked about that in our Exorcist 3 episode, didn’t we? Yeah, which 

Craig: is a good episode and people should listen to it and people should watch that movie.

You can skip Exorcist 2. I don’t hate it. I don’t think that it’s terrible. Most everybody does, but it’s, it’s a very different kind of movie and Exorcist 3 really is the sequel that, I think, Exorcist 3 is based on the novel. That Blatty wrote as a sequel to The Exorcist. So this, it really is kind of the real sequel.

Um, and it’s quite good. It is. I don’t remember, like, I’ve seen them all. I’ve seen the ones that they did in the 2000s. The one where they filmed one movie and then they didn’t like it. So they filmed it again with some of the same cast but a different script. And then they released that movie and it bombed.

So then they filmed the, then they released the first one. And it got better critical reception, but it bombed too. I don’t really remember much about either of those. The original, and this is often the case, not always, but often the case in these kind of franchises, the original stands shoulders. And, and heads above all of the things that follow, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not stuff to be enjoyed in the later ones, too.

You know, this 

Todd: is what’s unique about this movie, and I think that when people nowadays hear, this is one of the scariest movies ever made, they’re expecting some, like, Evil Dead type movie. You know what I mean? Yeah. This is not that kind of a horror movie. No. This is a very well made film that’s very interested in providing characters with deep emotions and deep motivations.

Most of the movie is about how all of the people intersecting with Regan and coming together and trying to figure out what’s wrong with her. They’ve all got their own little skeletons. You know, they’ve all got their own traumas that this demon is. picking at, whether it’s directly or just sort of indirectly through the situation that the demon has created.

It’s well made. It is just gorgeously photographed. 

Craig: Yeah. You can, we can’t say enough how well made it is. Now, of course, what we watched has been digitally restored for 4k. So, so it owes something to that, but the cinematography holds up. It looks like it could have been made. Yes. And it’s beautiful, like, the, the, the backdrop of Georgetown in the autumn is absolutely stunning.

The lighting is amazing and he made a concentrated effort to have a balance of incredibly bright Daytime scenes, especially the ones in the beginning in Iraq, um, and then cold, dark scenes, like the interior of Reagan’s room, and he really wanted to balance that because he wanted to present a balance of light and dark and good and evil, but It was also important to him that in the end, good triumphs.

Yeah. And the Catholic Church is really painted in a really good light in this movie. 

Todd: All of the priests who were involved in all their interviews had, you know, they were very defensive of the movie, and it doesn’t even sound like the church even at the time raised too many complaints about it either.

Except for Billy Graham. Yeah, well, Billy Graham’s not Catholic. That’s true, that’s true. You know, so there are just a couple things. Since we did the extended cut, I want to talk about just a couple things specific to the extended cut. Number one, like you said, sometimes I think the clarity of the image, which is in its ideal form, hurts a little bit.

With, like, the makeup. Ha ha ha ha. I felt like the, it, that was helped a little bit by the grainier footage that was a little darker that I was, I’m used to seeing. The makeup when you got close up on Regan, and especially Max von Sydow’s, like, old age makeup. There were moments when I was like, oh, that looks, looks fake.

You know? It looks like 

Craig: makeup. The old age makeup I’ll give you, but uh, the Linda Blair makeup I thought looked fantastic. Didn’t bother me that it was cleaned up at all. Most of the time 

Todd: it did, sometimes I, it bothered me, it looked a little cheesy. Um, the second thing is uh, I’m so glad that they cut the spider walk out originally.

I, it’s too much. And it’s too early, I think, personally. Yeah. Uh, I think 

Craig: that was a wise choice. I agree. Yeah, and, and how, how do things go back to even any semblance of normalcy after that? No. Which they do for a little while. You can’t 

Todd: get that, I mean, Duh Movie gets very supernatural, but that’s like, over the top, crazy town.

I like this 

Craig: cut because I like seeing that scene. Oh yeah. But in terms of, in terms of, um, pacing, it really doesn’t work. It would, it probably, it probably was the right choice. 

Todd: And the other thing, you know, you can say is that the head twisting, the head twisting always kind of like bother me because that’s that one thing that like, Oh, come on, like that, that physically can’t happen.

But free can makes a comment or bloody makes a comment. One of the things about how they cut away and then cut back. He intentionally cut to father Karis after that happened and then cut back. And there’s The impression that it could have been a hallucination. I didn’t pick that up in the watching of it, but looking back on it, I think that’s a defense.

Craig: suppose. Yeah, I guess. It wasn’t meant to be a 360 spin. It was supposed to just turn 180 and then turn back. But they had the capability of doing it 360, so Friedkin said, Let’s do it. Let’s shoot one. Yeah, let’s 

Todd: shoot one. Even 180 is impossible, but yeah, you’re right. 

Craig: Right, and that’s what they went with.

Todd: Uh, and then the third thing, I want to talk about the ending, right? The extended ending. Because, uh, part of what just kind of, like, fried me about the original movie was, it is a very sudden ending. Like, the exorcism event suddenly, it’s this sudden tragic death of Father Karras, who kind of sacrifices himself, um, and is dead, and it…

It’s like, wow, it feels very bleak. You do see, I think, them pack in their car and leave, and that’s kind of about it, I think, is what the original ending was, right? I think you’re right, yeah. This one, uh, I was surprised to see how long it went on for almost another, like, eight minutes, probably, of that guy, that detective who pops in and out.

Kinderman. Kinderman has a, has an interesting conversation with Karras, when he’s more or less probing and almost accusing Karras of, either hiding some knowledge about whether there might be some priest at the university who was involved in killing the The filmmaker or whatever or maybe he himself, you know, uh is hiding something Maybe he had some involvement and he says something to him about Hey Do 

Craig: you like movies very much?

Well, I get passes to the best shows in japan Mrs. K though, you know, she gets tired, you know never likes to go It’s too bad, yeah, I hate to go alone. Yeah, I love

Todd: And you get the impression like he never really was going to go with them anyway, no matter what was playing, but 

Craig: he’s just, no, it was a fake movie, like, like not a fake movie, but he said the title of a movie, but then he. said that the stars were two people who were absolutely not the stars of that movie.


Todd: but I don’t know if that was, was that a conceit just for the film or was that was the character himself? 

Craig: I think that, I think that it was, he wasn’t really interested in taking him to the movies. Sure. He just wanted to get more time with him. So I think that he was just using that as a ruse and I think that he knew the, the priest knew that and so he was just.


Todd: yeah, me too. I, I, that’s, that’s how I felt. Um, then it comes up again at the end in this extended cut where Father Dyer is at the house after everybody drives away. He said goodbye to them. He walks over to the stairs. He looks down them, decides he’s not going to go down those stairs and then, uh, turns back and meets up with, uh, the inspector again, who’s there and they have some words.

It’s like, are you okay? Yeah. Are you okay? Yeah. Uh, Well, life goes on, right? Yadda, yadda, yadda. And the inspector starts to walk away, but then he does exactly the same thing. He turns around and offers this guy a ticket to the movie. And this guy says, Oh, sorry, I’ve already seen it. And then he says, Well, what are you doing for lunch?

Have you had lunch yet? And, uh, he’s like, No. And he puts his arm around him and they kind of walk off down the street. There 

Craig: was even more dialogue, um, as they walked away. There was one more shot where it was supposed to pull back. And, and show them walking away from, like, high up and, and behind them. And, uh, Kinderman was gonna say to Dyer, Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Oh, God. And then they just walked off. And the only reason that they didn’t put that back in for this cut is because they couldn’t find the audio. They had the video, but they couldn’t find the audio. Oh, wow. So they didn’t put it back in. What do you make of that? I don’t know. Well, I know what the, I know what Friedkin said about it, um, he said that he wanted to put that stuff back in because he wanted to show that, yes, this horrible thing had happened, but now life goes on.

Actually, that 

Todd: was Blatty, I think, who was pushing Friedkin to put it back in for that reason and Friedkin resisted, but ultimately, yeah, 

Craig: I think you’re right. You know, I, I think he said something like, you know, all is well, God is in his holy temple, life goes on. And, and I think, you know, good and evil.

will always exist, but in this movie, at least seemingly good triumphs over evil. And now people pick up the pieces and move on. And that’s what Chris and Reagan are doing. And that’s what Kinderman and Dyer are doing. I maybe Kinderman just wants to continue to have an in with the church. I don’t know. I think I prefer the original ending just because.

This one just doesn’t do much for me like when I read the intention, okay, that makes sense I think that I could get that enough from Chris and Reagan packing up having a nice goodbye with Father Dyer and that’s The end, you know, like it’s over. We’re moving on. That’s good enough for me. I don’t need the extra stuff But it didn’t bother me either.

It’s fine. The new 

Todd: ending confused me. I was even reading homosexual overtones into it undertones into it Yeah, I know because I’ve been primed earlier. I was like what’s going on with father Dyer now Why are we concentrating on him so much and then this guy wants to be chummy chummy with them and he also wanted to be Chummy chummy with father Maris and I thought maybe I misinterpreted that earlier I don’t know what subtext I’m missing.

It’s just like, you know, you don’t put a scene like that in there without, like, a very strong reason. And although the reason makes sense… Oh, I just want to show a happy ending. Like, it could have been a lot shorter and more economical, you 

Craig: know? Yeah, well, and that’s probably why they initially did it that way, and the theatrical cut was really successful, which is probably the only reason that we eventually got a director’s cut.

It’s, people… Like myself are big fans of this movie and there is stuff available that they could share with us. And, oh yeah, I’m glad they did that. It’s, it’s one of those things, like if you prefer the theatrical cut of the movie, that’s good. Watch it. I, that’s, that’s great. I’m, if that’s, if that’s your favorite version, that’s the one you should watch.

I like having access to this one. Cause I like seeing the different stuff I like in the original theatrical cut. I think he cut out a lot, if not all of those like subliminal cuts. Didn’t he? Like the demon faces and stuff, I don’t They were back. Mo Yeah, most of those were not in the theatrical cut, I don’t think.

Just the one. And I like those. 

Todd: I liked them too. I was actually surprised by that. That Now, that doesn’t mean they’re not truly subliminal or else you wouldn’t be able to notice them. No. But there’s that really cool one where she the lights are flickering on and off in the kitchen and suddenly you see You see that face for a split second in the shadow next to her during one of the flickers?

Uh huh. Oh, that was a nice little treat, you know? I 

Craig: thought those were good. I love it. That is, uh, her Eileen Dietz. Eileen Dietz did. That’s her. That’s her face. 

Todd: Ah, that’s cool. Yeah, well, here we finally did The Exorcist and we’ve only scratched the surface like we promised. I know, we didn’t talk 

Craig: about the plot at all.

I apologize if that’s what you’re coming here for, but honestly, I, I, I wouldn’t even want to do that. I wouldn’t want to go through point by point of the plot if you haven’t seen it. You should watch it. Um, it’s a really good movie. I’ve got 

Todd: three pages of notes I’ve barely touched. Yeah, 

Craig: I have a lot of notes.

Oh, I didn’t look at them at all. I only looked at the notes for the, you know, extra stuff out there. And on, on the DVD version of this, there’s even another, uh, retrospective I think that I couldn’t find, um, online. So, if you are a fan, there’s tons and tons of extra stuff. Uh, that you can find. Deleted scenes, retrospectives, interviews, making ofs, uh, all kinds of 

Todd: stuff.

I I’m really curious now, going back and watching this movie again after so long and refreshing yourself with it, does it at all change your feelings or opinions, even in the slightest way, about the the newest one? No, 

Craig: the only thing that I’ll concede to is that I said the exorcism went on for much longer, and it doesn’t.

However… Linda Blair is full out possessed for like the second half of the movie. Yeah. Or most of. The, the priests aren’t there yet, but she’s stabbing herself in her downstairs. Yeah, like 50 minutes in. 

Todd: Yeah, 

Craig: 50 minutes in. Right. And that goes on for a 

Todd: while. It does, although like, there’s very little footage of it.

I mean, most of what happens is not concentrated on her at all. But you’re right. Yeah, 

Craig: that’s the other thing. It is, I mean, I don’t know if young people, sensibilities are just different. I think that they go into, they go into horror movies with certain expectations. Um, and this movie, I was never bored. I was compelled.

throughout. I thought the pacing was excellent, but there are long periods of drama and exposition. 

Todd: Well, that’s the point I was trying to make earlier, is I think that, you know, modern, a modern audience who’s never been exposed to this before, being told this is the scariest movie ever made, having seen the movies that they’ve presumably seen up to this point, which are a lot more intense.

And a lot more in your face, uh, and exploitative. You know, they’re gonna look at this, I think, and perhaps think of it as relatively tame. But this movie 

Craig: crosses lines that contemporary movies do not. Yeah, it does. I think. I agree. I think, I think that some of the stuff in this movie is still legitimately shocking, even to a modern audience.

Once you get to it. I just, I can’t, once you get to it. Yeah. And it is troubling, it is shocking. Um, but I. I think that this movie kind of deserves its place, ranked high in, in the canon of horror films. Oh yeah. It is among the best, if not the best, horror movies in terms of film quality out there. From, from, I want to say an objective perspective, it’s a great movie, that’s not.

Fair. I mean, it’s, it’s my opinion, but in my humble opinion, I think that it is just brilliantly, brilliantly made, excellent direction, excellent cinematography, excellent writing, excellent, excellent acting. I really have very few, if any, criticisms of it at all. I can’t imagine that if you listen to this podcast, you haven’t seen it, but if you haven’t…

See, yeah, it’s it’s great. Well, 

Todd: if you have stuck with us this long as promised We have another special treat for you. As I said earlier on the last episode We have some messages from our listeners from our patron patrons Specifically Craig. Are you ready to hear what longtime listener and patron Gary has sent us?

Yes. All right. Hello, Todd and Craig. Congratulations on your 

Craig: 365th episode of Two Guys in a Chainsaw. This is longtime listener and patron Gary, excited to talk at you for a little bit. If you don’t count 

Todd: my long winded patron comments, sorry about those. I 

Craig: first found your podcast back in 2019. on Apple Podcasts when I was looking for a horror movie review show about Sleepaway Camp.

The podcasts I was finding, the hosts were using the F bomb every five seconds, and their sentences weren’t making any coherent sense. So I sought out a podcast without the explicit label next to it, and that’s how I found you. I know it’s ironic given the language in Sleepaway Camp, 

Todd: but 

Craig: it is what it is.

My favorite episode of Duke Dies in a Chainsaw is Don’t Look Now. The discussion is really great behind it, but it also turned me on to one of my favorite horror films, uh, now. So I’m eternally grateful for that. 

Todd: My favorite horror film, personally, is 1932’s 

Craig: Freaks, Google 

Todd: Gobble. And I 

Craig: love the horror genre because there’s a certain mystery behind it.

You don’t know what will happen in the end. Who will survive by the end and they don’t have the restrictions that more mainstream movies have and so they can experiment more. So those are things I appreciate about film. Thank you so much, um, for the entertainment you’ve provided over the years. It means a lot to a lot of people.

Again, congrats on your milestone. Gary’s a good guy. 

Todd: He is, isn’t he? Yeah. He talks a lot 

Craig: with us, yeah. He’s a long term, uh, a long time patron, and he, uh, sparks up conversations with us on almost every post, um, that we put on our Patreon page. And, uh, I really appreciate that. I love hearing from people. I love hearing people’s feedback on what we’re doing.

And, um, Gary’s just been very kind and very supportive of us. And so it’s really nice, uh, to put a voice with a name. At least. And uh, Gosh, we have talked about doing freaks on this show. We have. Before. You’ve seen it? We really need to No! 

Todd: Oh god. And I want to. You know, it’s gonna surprise you, actually, I think, of how disturbing it is.

I mean, you know, I mean, for its time especially, but even today, like, It’s a bit, you know, the subject matter is a little, 

Craig: I mean, a lot of the footage was destroyed, right? Like there’s only some footage 

Todd: available, right? Oh, no, the whole movie is, uh, is, is available. Now you can see it. Well, it was pulled from theaters.

Boy, I don’t remember exactly, but it was definitely, it was pulled from theaters early. It didn’t get shown for a very long time. There may be extra footage that, you know, was shot that wasn’t included. You know, we’re never going to see a director’s cut of it or anything like that. But, uh, no, it’s intact.

It’s, it’s a, it’s a powerful movie. I, I totally stand behind that. I can see why it would be a favorite. We could dive into, uh, several of those older horror movies, but, uh, that’s a very notorious one. Yeah, we should check that out. We should. I, you know, I’m really happy to hear that my efforts at bleeping out the F bombs, both in us and in the footage is, uh, is paying off to not put that, uh, explicit label next for a podcast.

I just had a feeling that might help us. 

Craig: Yeah, and, uh, Gary is not the only person to say that. We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about that, and I I apologize because in my private life, I just am not concerned about foul language. Obviously, I’m a school teacher. At school, I don’t use that kind of language. I know how to conduct myself in polite company.

All right. But… You and I are just buddies talking about something. This is not polite company. Right. So, thank you for bleeping it out, um, for those who don’t appreciate it. Which I fully, completely understand. It’s just something that… Oh yeah. You know, I was a linguistics major. You know, I understand that there are words that have power, but some of them…

Don’t hold a lot of power for me. And so I use them very casually But thank you for for bleeping them out because I think it’s it’s the right call. You’re 

Todd: you’re judicious I think when you use the f word and I went for that, you know when I use the f word we mean it It’s not Filler talk for us. This 

Craig: is like, yeah, I don’t know.

Sometimes I just get real excited.

Todd: Well, anyway, thank you so much, Gary, for your support of the show, your continued support. It’s lovely speaking with you as it is speaking with all of our patrons and just our listeners who aren’t patrons, whoever you are, wherever you are. We love hearing from you. Please, uh, feel free to send us a message, a voice recording.

We listen to everything we get. That is Speakpipe. com slash Chainsaw Podcast, or you can go to our website, ChainsawHorror. com, and click the link there. There’s also a link on our website to our newsletter, and you know, we’re starting to get responses to our newsletter now. I saw that. Yeah, if you respond to that newsletter, we get it, we read it.

We may not respond to everybody, but we will try to. And so, uh, just Send us your comments there as well. Subscribe to that newsletter. We throw a few bits and bobs in there about horror news. Remind you of the episodes that are coming up, some previous episodes you might’ve missed, and what’s going on in our, in our Patreon community.

Just, just gonna try to keep it fun and light, just a little something extra. And you can find us, as you know, online at our website, chainsaw, as well as just by searching two guys in a chainsaw podcast and find us anywhere podcasts are. The best thing you can do is leave us a review somewhere and, uh, share this with a friend who you think might enjoy.

What easier way to do that than to, say, forward that newsletter along? So many ways to connect. Until next time, I am Todd. And I’m Craig. With Two Guys and a Chainsaw.

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