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Did people exaggerate about The Exorcist movie?

211 replies

EbbyEbs · 09/09/2022 20:16

DH and I have just been talking about horror movies and we have both heard the same stories off our parents about how people were fainting in the cinema and how there were constant ambulances being called to the cinema etc

I saw someone saying this on a documentary about it too that there were “ambulances lined up outside the cinemas”

Surely not?

We’re not old enough to know for sure but these stories are exaggerated surely? It wasn’t even that scary! Most of the film is pretty boring if we’re being honest!

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

169 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Funkyslippers · 10/09/2022 10:33

EbbyEbs yeah it's one of my favourite films. I also love Orphan, quite scary and gory. The new one not so much but I still liked it

Funkyslippers · 10/09/2022 10:37

AgnestaVipers I really wanted to like Ghost watch but from the word go I could tell it was all acting. That said, Sarah Greene, Mike Smith, Michael Parkinson etc are definitely not actors!

thereisonlyoneofme · 10/09/2022 10:43

I watched it when it came out and didnt find it remotely scary

Getagrip123 · 10/09/2022 10:48

A part of the "horror" of the whole phenomena surrounding The Exorcist is that a legend has grown up around the making of the film and the so called "curse".
There were several on set accidents during the production including an unexplained fire on set, cast and crew deaths, medical diagnoses of illnesses, the list goes on. I'm sure if they had been filming a romantic comedy none of this would have been attributed to the films subject matter itself but rather coincidence and general life.
This is a legend that had been encouraged by Billy Friedkin (director) and some of the cast. After all, it only enforces the idea that somehow The Exorcist is MORE than the sum of its parts, that real evil exists in the footage of this movie.

Some real priests played the role of supporting cast members to give it an air of authenticity.
Linda Blair was actually badly injured on set during the bed levitation scene, as she was rigged up to a harness which was violently jerked to make it looked as though she was being thrown about. She was screaming in real life for Friedkin to stop (if you listen to the footage closely you can hear her scream "BILLY" but it's lost in the general noise and screaming of the scene.)
Interestingly Max Von Sydow who played the older priest was vocal in denying all of the stories surrounding the movie, and very dismissive of the "curse" while Ellen Burstin (who played the mother) encourages these stories in many interviews about the making of the film.

Also pertinent is the fact that the story by William Peter Blatty is VERY VERY loosely based on a true story of an apparent possession of a young boy in South America. Although this has to be taken with a massive pinch of salt as always, these "legends" are embellished over the years so that the original facts become very dubious.

The ambulances and medics stationed at the cinema were for a large part actually part of the planned media circus surrounding the film's release. The stories of people fainting, vomiting and having seizures in the aisles was a kind of self fulfilling prophecy and became like a contagious hysteria among young people. I'm not saying it DIDN'T happen but again, it's a legend that has grown up around the film and one that Friedkin and Co are only too happy to foster and encourage.

The film was taken off the shelves in 1988 (home VHS tapes) but actually continued to be shown in certain cinemas with special showings, so it was never outright banned. Almost all of the hype surrounding the film was generated by the studio on an effort to sell the film, and it worked.

Personally I like the film. As a Christian I suppose it affects me in a way that might not affect someone with no religious beliefs, so that adds another layer of interest. I don't think the movie has held up particularly well over the years, and the subsequent sequels were DIRE and should be relegated to the cinematic bin.

MintyGreenDreams · 10/09/2022 10:52

It isnt the horror part thsts shocking imo but that a young girl is masterbating with a cross

woodhill · 10/09/2022 10:56

EbbyEbs · 10/09/2022 09:57

The only film that ever scared me was IT … and it wasn’t even the clown, it was the bit where Georgie winks in the photograph. I was only a child when I watched it though, gave me nightmares for weeks

The original IT absolutely freaked me out with Tim Curry

Another thing was the Jack the Ripper on ITB with Michael Cain and Lisette Anthony. I had to go and sleep in my parents bed and I was a around 21 and swap with dad

foxlover47 · 10/09/2022 11:00

I watched it as a 18 year old and was hugely underwhelmed but that was because I had read the book first when I was alone when my parents were away and the book was genuinely scary to me !

woodhill · 10/09/2022 11:01

There was also a really creepy Jean Cocteau film, not frightening but there was a cow being led on stage and a map of the world. People in audience watching as part of film

Funkyblues101 · 10/09/2022 11:09

The Woman in Black in the West End has been terrifying audiences for years. People screaming out loud and having to leave. They recently re-released a made-for-television film from the early 90s that was 10 times more terrifying than the recent Daniel Radcliffe version.
On similar lines to the OP, car sickness is less common nowadays. Not sure if it's because cars give a smoother ride, people have better clutch control (or auto gearboxes), the roads are better with more motorways or that we are just more habituated as passengers. Or all of the above.

saveforthat · 10/09/2022 14:35

woodhill · 09/09/2022 22:36

That was terrifying and a pet Cemetery is really creepy

Years ago we stayed in a converted chapel in Dorset surrounded by old graves. Pet semetry was one of the videos left for guests to watch!

Kellie45 · 10/09/2022 14:37

I make a point of not seeing movies like this as there is enough horror in the world without adding to it

Ginger1982 · 10/09/2022 20:15

Mrsjayy · 09/09/2022 21:34

Did your dad not have an inclination Ginger1982

Apparently not! I don't know, seems very odd!

Shaaameless · 10/09/2022 20:19

😆. I think they’re having you on OP.

Sometimeswinning · 10/09/2022 22:35

BasiliskStare · 10/09/2022 00:35

@Sometimeswinning and @ScrambledSmegs 😁That film is as scary as scary can be but completely without gore etc. Do I remember correctly the spiral staircase in the library creaking ? But the banging on the doors also As I recall the remake wasn't a patch on the original

Also @LadyVictoriaSponge - are those armchair thrillers what I used to call the round thrillers because the opening credits had a sort of round convex mirror thing . There was one called the White Rolls Royce & one where a woman was bricked up in a cellar and had to choose between the air and the candle. I may be thinking of something different. They can't have been all that bad as , as I recall they were on at 9pm so just after the watershed - but my granny when she was babysitting used to let me watch them , which I did from behind a cushion. I don't think I am thinking of tales of the unexpected because the opening credits of that were all a bit orange but I think it was of the same vintage

The banging on the door still stays in my head! The remake was not a patch on it! Although I loved Owen Wilson from it. I think because he was based on Russ Tamblyn's character!

Amberheart · 10/09/2022 23:40

I worked in a theatre when it was playing. No fainting, no ambulances did have 2 nuns come in though.

GrasssInPocket · 10/09/2022 23:55

BasiliskStare · 10/09/2022 05:32

@LadyVictoriaSponge Yes yes yes - how brilliant of you to get it from my poor description. 🌹💐
I have remembered that series for pretty much 50 years as "the round thrillers" & now I know what it was.

By "round thriller" I thought you meant this series - the opening credits start a few minutes in and were always shot through a round fish-eye lens. Can't bring myself to watch them now but they're probably very tame by today's standards!

Did people exaggerate about The Exorcist movie?
Did people exaggerate about The Exorcist movie?
GrasssInPocket · 10/09/2022 23:56

Not sure why that picture uploaded twice, btw. Twice as scary! 😂

LadyVictoriaSponge · 11/09/2022 00:38

BasiliskStare · 10/09/2022 05:32

@LadyVictoriaSponge Yes yes yes - how brilliant of you to get it from my poor description. 🌹💐
I have remembered that series for pretty much 50 years as "the round thrillers" & now I know what it was.

@BasiliskStare glad to be of service!😀👻💀

Sparklesocks · 11/09/2022 00:44

Fear is subjective and personal. Films that might scare one person won’t even make some even flinch. I was chilled by the Exorcist but I might prefer atmospheric horror where it’s about mood and tension rather than cheap jump scares or gore. Have a friend who loves horror but she only really watches torture porn type Saw/Hostel stuff and that isn’t horror to me. Each to their own!

MarieIVanArkleStinks · 11/09/2022 01:02

I remember seeing A Nightmare on Elm Street at the cinema and being too scared to sleep!

Yes especially the TV bit

Welcome to prime time bitch! (To me, it's that scene where he leaps up from behind Nancy's bed in 1 makes me jump out of my skin EVERY time)!

I love a good slasher. The first and the third 'Nightmare' movies were pretty respectable films, and I confess to being something of a 'fangirl' of Robert Englund who comes across as a pretty top bloke.

I also think that Nightmare 1, considering its genre, is something of a sophisticated movie both philosophically and psychologically. The Balinese dream angle is interesting. It's a comforting if naive concept, in the sleeping or waking world, that turning your back on a monster will simply make it disappear, but the underlying sentiment 'don't empower negative BS with your energy' is a good one.

Apparently the idea for the film stemmed from contemporary newspaper reports about a spate of SADS deaths amongst young South East Asian males. Apparently, they often died during the second nightmare and the doctor's observation in Nightmare 3 - that they'd resort to acts as extreme as cutting off their own eyelids to stay awake - is largely true. The messed-up family dynamic is also interesting, that the 'Freddy' spectre simply couldn't have got a purchase on these kids had they come from normal, less dysfunctional families without so many buried secrets. A psychotherapist friend of mine found it fascinating.

The paedophilia subplot is played down but unmistakeable. Fair to say, though, that many if not most of the films in that franchise were complete bilge, but given the chance i would love to write a research paper on 1!

The Exorcist is fun if mildly chilling. But it's two near-contemporaries 'City of the Living Dead' and 'The Evil Dead' scared the living shit out of me.

89redballoons · 11/09/2022 01:47

I wonder if The Exorcist is scarier if you are a Christian and believe in the devil, or at least if you've had that kind of upbringing. I was brought up Catholic and that film terrified me.

i think that a religious upbringing would have been more common among those aged 18+ in 1974 than among adults now. So maybe it resonated more with audiences when it originally came out.

SammyScrounge · 11/09/2022 01:57

AgnestaVipers · 10/09/2022 05:13

My faves are The Innocents, Don't Look Now, The Shining and a really obscure one that no one seems to have seen - The Medusa Touch.

Richard Burton with the mysterious Medusa power .Great film
So was The Omen


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BasiliskStare · 11/09/2022 05:08

O Hello @GrasssInPocket - might have to look at that too -fish eye lens sounds familar - thank you

RonObvious · 11/09/2022 07:14

@EbbyEbs Weird - the Nightmare on Elm Street films are my comfort films too (am also autistic). I rewatch the whole franchise periodically.

By the way, if any horror buffs haven’t discovered “Kill Count” with James A. Janisse on the Dead Meat YouTube channel, then you should check it out. He gives a recap of films, along with a bit of commentary and behind the scenes information. Lots of really obscure 80s films in there, as well as modern films. I love it (am not affiliated, by the way, just a fan).

DashboardConfessional · 11/09/2022 08:00

In fairness, no word of a lie, when I went to see Blair Witch a woman burst into tears at the end (before the camera reached the last room) and ran out!

I love Nightmare on Elm St but I do understand why some would say it's not aged well.

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