Mercedes and the Monster (photo illustration by Todd McNaught)
It inspired an ocean of imitators and aspects of it seem quaint in the context of the age of digitally effected gore. But almost 40 years after its release, The Exorcist remains a chilling classic that transcended the horror genre due to both William Friedkin’s masterful direction and Linda Blair’s stellar acting.
In 1969, [Calley] became executive vice president in charge of production at Warner Bros.; he became president in 1975.
“Under Calley, Warners became the class act in town,” Peter Biskind wrote in his 1998 book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And-Rock ‘N’ Roll Generation Saved Hollywood.
“Urbane and witty, he gave the impression that he was somehow above it all, slumming in the Hollywood cesspool,” Biskind wrote. “As one wag put it, he was the blue in the toilet bowl.”
At Warner Bros., Calley created what Biskind called “an atmosphere congenial to ‘60s-going-on ‘70s filmmakers” and was known for relying heavily on his own taste in picking films.
Among Warner’s Calley-era bill of fare: Woodstock, A Clockwork Orange, Mean Streets, The Towering Inferno, “McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Exorcist, Dog Day Afternoon, Deliverance, Dirty Harry, All the President’s Men, Blazing Saddles, Superman and Chariots of Fire.
As a salute, here’s a brief video resume of that golden era of film-making.
Thank God for Satan, as more than 60 Catholic clergy (66 perhaps?) gather in Rome for a 6-day (another 6!) conference on “Exorcism”, this week, at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Rome. The event will examine how the web has made it easier than before to access information on Devil-worship and the occult, reports the Daily Telegraph:
“The internet makes it much easier than in the past to find information about Satanism,” said Carlo Climati, a member of the university who specialises in the dangers posed to young people by Satanism.
“In just a few minutes you can contact Satanist groups and research occultism. The conference is not about how to become an exorcist. It’s to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. It’s to give help to families and priests. There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile,” said Mr Climati.
Organizers of the event say the rise of Satanism has been dangerously underestimated in recent years.
“There’s been a revival,” said Gabriele Nanni, a former exorcist and another speaker at the course.
Over the course of 6-days, the exorcists will scrutinise the phenomenon of Satanism with “seriousness and scientific rigour”, avoiding a “superficial or sensational approach.”
In theory, any priest can perform an exorcism – a rite involving prayers to drive the Devil out of the person said to be possessed.
But Vatican officials said three years ago that parish priests should call in professional exorcists if they suspect one of their parishioners needs purging of evil. An exorcist should be called when “the moral certainty has been reached that the person is possessed”, said Father Nanni, a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. That could be indicated by radical and disturbing changes in the person’s behaviour and voice, or an ability to garble in foreign languages or nonsensical gibberish.
While the number of genuine cases of possession by the Devil remained relatively small, “we must be on guard because occult and Satanist practices are spreading a great deal, in part with the help of the internet and new technologies that make it easier to access these rituals,” he said.
The Vatican’s chief exorcist claimed last year that the Devil lurked in the Vatican, the very heart of the Catholic Church.
Father Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron, scream, dribble and slobber, utter blasphemies and have to be physically restrained.
He claimed that the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See. He said Pope Benedict XVI believed “wholeheartedly” in the practice of exorcism.
The church’s International Association of Exorcists was set up in 1993, and meet in secret every 2 years, with the aim “of increasing the number of official exorcists worldwide.”
Since 2005, Catholic priests can sign up to learn how to cast away evil spirits from the possessed at the Vatican-backed college, the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
It runs a two-month course to teach the “spiritual, liturgical and pastoral work involved in being an exorcist.”
According to Father Giulio Savoldi, Milan’s official exorcist, requirements include “the supernatural force – the presence of God – and then suggest that the man picked to do this kind of work be wise and that he should know how to gather strength not just from within himself but from God.” The Roman Catholic’s new Exorcism RiteThe Roman Catholic’s new Exorcism Rite, which was updated in 1999 for the first time since 1614, stresses the importance of distinguishing who is really in need of an exorcism.
Father Savoldi said: “Those studying to become exorcists should also study psychology and know how to distinguish between a mental illness and a possession. And, finally, they need to be very patient.” He said the priest who undertakes the office should be himself a holy man, of a blameless life, intelligent, courageous, humble. He should avoid in the course of the rite anything resembling superstition and he should leave the medical aspects of the case to qualified physicians.
If that doesn’t turn your head, then you may enjoy Mark Kermode’s fascinating BBC documentary, Fear of God: The Making of ‘The Exorcist’, which examines the story of classic 1973 horror movie, with cast and crew, and discusses the true events inspired William Peter Blatty’s original novel.
It’s safe to say we’re all scarred for life from seeing The Exorcist as kids but these kids worked it out in an exceptional way. The sound design in particular is a marvel of resourcefulness.
In 1974 while THE EXORCIST was still playing in the theaters, my friends and I made a version of our own called THE DEMONIC POSSESSION. Originally the title was going to be MALEDICTION but we figured nobody would know what that is. Filmed in Pittsburgh, Pa and Atlanta, Ga, the film was made on SUPER 8 SOUND and runs 60 minutes. This is an excerpt. Miraculously the film was made without ANY parental censorship or supervision. A film by CLIFF CARSON Cinematography by BILL BURTON
Gus Van Sant‘s experiment from ‘99 where he essentially served up a Xerox of Hitchcock’s Psycho has nothing on the ongoing cinematic “homaging” going down in Turkey. Cinefamily goes so far as to declare the country,
the wild, wild Middle East of mondo macabro. Here you find the outlying reaches of world exploitation, where the heroes are macho men who can beat you up with just their moustaches, and the copyright infringement flows as freely as the currents of the Bosphorus River. From the wholesale plundering of battle footage from American sci-fi smash hits (with which to mash into their own space operas), to the endless cavalcade of scene-for-scene, shot-for-shot, unauthorized remakes (Turkish Exorcist, Turkish Death Wish, Turkish Young Frankenstein)—the bandits of Turkish cinema were unstoppable. These films were lawless, shameless, and hilarious. Infinite ambition and infinitesimal budgets lead to cheap remakes that resemble a high school theater version of Apocalypse Now; to make up for their poverty, these filmmakers upped the sadism, mayhem, and titillation to their tastes and our delight.
Well, thanks to YouTube, you can now watch Seytan—The Turkish Exorcist—in 14 soup-spewing installments. I’m pretty sure they’re all posted, but if you can’t find ‘em all, even casual fans of William Friedkin’s Exorcist will have no trouble spotting the devil in Ms. G?ɬ