Today in History – Premiere of 'The Exorcist'

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Tue, 26 Dec 2017 - 01:44 GMT

Screencap from the 1973 trailer for 'The Exorcist', December 26, 2017 - ryy79 Youtube/Channel

Screencap from the 1973 trailer for 'The Exorcist', December 26, 2017 - ryy79 Youtube/Channel

CAIRO – 26 December 2017: A day after Christmas, one of the scariest films in history would premiere in 1973: "The Exorcist", by director William Friedkin, also considered the highest grossing horror movie worldwide.



The film is derived from a 1971 novel titled "The Exorcist" by author William Peter Blatty, who also produced the film and wrote the screenplay. A New York Times bestselling novel, the book recounted the supposedly true events of a catholic priest’s attempts to exorcise a possessed American teenage boy named Roland Doe in the late 1940s. The novel changed several details, such as the gender of the possessed child.

Starring Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller and Linda Blair, the film begins with an archaeological expedition in Iraq by Father Lancaster Merrin (Sydow), who encounters a series of bizarre, ominous events before his discovery of an ancient statue fashioned in the shape of an ancient demon, Pazazu.

The setting then shifts to the U.S. where actress Chris McNeil (Burstyn) moves with her sweet, well-behaved 12 year old daughter, Regan (Blair) to Washington, D.C. in the high-standing neighborhood of Georgetown. McNeil’s peaceful new life is shattered when her daughter begins experiencing strange bouts of behavior, following odd noises coming from the house.

When Regan’s sickness progresses severely and doctors are baffled at the cause, McNeil reluctantly calls in spiritual aid in the form of Father Karras (Miller), a Jesuit priest suffering a crisis of faith spurred by his mother’s death, and Father Merrin, returning from his trip from Iraq. As they aim to save the girl from her demonic harasser, the two priests will be tested in the strength of their faith as the evil they deal with proves to be far more relentless than they could have imagined it.


Production of the film was believed to be cursed, from unfortunate events such as a fire on the set to the deaths of actors involved in the film, such as Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros, who died while the film was in post-production. Other unfortunate mishaps include the near-death of actor Miller in a motorcycle accident.

On its premiere, "The Exorcist" proved to be a massive box-office success, terrifying audiences like they had never been before. Beyond its gruesome visuals, the film was a masterpiece of cinematic composition, earning eight academy award nominations and winning two; the Oscars for 'Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium' and 'Best Sound'. In total, the film grossed over $440,000,000 at the worldwide box office.

The tremendous success of "The Exorcist" insured it would be followed up by various sequels, such as "The Exorcist II: The Heretic" in 1977 by director John Boorman, which was so poorly received that it spurred the original author of the book into writing a sequel in 1983 titled "Legion", which was then adapted into "The Exorcist III" in 1990, which ignored the events of "The Heretic" and was based on the real life Zodiac Killer crimes.


More recently, a 2016 television spin-off also titled "The Exorcist" was released on Fox, which follows the efforts of two priests as they combat the demonic forces of this world.

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