[This Day In Horror] ‘The Exorcist’ Is Unleashed Upon Audiences!


December 26th, 1973.

William Friedkin’s horror masterpiece The Exorcist has more cojones than any mainstream horror film I’ve seen in years. It’s an amazingly brutal, profane, scary and funny film – one that simply couldn’t be made today within the studio system. Not a chance. The fact that this movie came out 39 years ago blows my mind.

According to BoxOfficeMojo, the film has taken in around $232,906,145 at the US Box Office and $208,400,000 in foreign markets for a combined worldwide total of $441,306,145. Huge numbers for a movie with a production budget of $10.5 million, a figure that by today’s studio standards seems scant. In short, the movie wasn’t just a hit – it was a global phenomenon (even though those numbers include the gross of 2000’s successful re-release).

I wasn’t even born 39 years ago and I imagine the same could be said by a large chunk of our readers. Why do you guys think we don’t see movies like The Exorcist hit that same level of mainstream awareness today? Are audiences weaker? Are the corporate-owned studios more cowardly? Is there some sort of new politically correct awareness that is actually increasing the limits on what’s deemed appropriate in the artistic marketplace? I have my own theories, but I want to here from you.

  • Steven-Ramirez

    ‘The Exorcist’ is my all-time favorite horror movie. After all these years, it still scares the crap out of me. Here’s a tip—read the book. It’s even scarier.

    • Melissa

      That book is what your worst nightmares are made of. Everything about it is just simply terrifying. Father Karras had some of the most haunting things in the book that could never be translated to the big screen.

  • dangerzone79

    I think it’s really hard to shock or offend or even get people to pay attention to something like The Exorcist nowadays. With the things that can be found on the internet (decapitations, hammer murders, animal cruelty, “real exorcisms”) how could a story of a girl with a demon inside her make people throw up in the aisles and run screaming? It’s almost impossible. Something like that had NEVER been seen like that before. Same goes for a movie like Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974.) These movies were just so innovative and mind blowingly real that the mass reaction was unavoidable. At this point I think we’ve seen it all… until someone else re-invents the wheel. Fingers crossed that it happens.

    • djblack1313

      dangerzone, you bring up an excellent point. i agree.

  • djblack1313

    awesome movie. a timeless classic (still holds up perfectly today!) but i can’t lie, THE EXORCIST III is my favorite.

    • dangerzone79

      Absolutely LOVE Legion!!! I tour with Jane’s Addiction and that is one movie Navarro & I watch once every single tour.

      • djblack1313

        dangerzone, that is SO awesome! EXORCIST III is really one of the only movies that genuinely scares/creeps me out EVERY time i watch it. i almost always have to turn the lights on when i’m watching it! lol. no other movies do that to me except THE CHANGELING!

  • darkvictory

    It really is hard to shock people the way The Exorcist and TCM did these days. That being said, The Exorcist is one of my all time favorite movies. It’s one of those movies, in my opinion, that is just intense and it gets under your skin alittle.

    • Se_7_eN

      Ok… This is driving me nuts, TCM?

      • Se_7_eN

        Wow, n/m… I am a little slow today.

  • STRIK9

    The Exorcist is a brilliant story and movie and one of my top 5 favorites.The third was great as well. The exorcism films that come out today are corny and cliché. These movies that Hollywood put out now rely more on stupid fx and cgi than any sort of psychological horror,which the original had plenty of as well.I don’t think think audiences are weaker but the $tudios definitely are.They only like to fuck with formulated films and guaranteed successes.

    • djblack1313

      STRIK9, it’s heartening to know other also like part 3 as well. i feel like it’s a very underrated movie. i think part 2 turned most people off to the EXORCIST movies permanently.

  • Aaron Emery

    One of my favorite movies, I still prefer the original cut to the extended though. The spider-walk scene and all the added in demon faces seemed out of place and overdone. I also love part 3 and Dominion! Dominion had an atmosphere and dread along the lines of the first, and part 3 was just creepy and well made. I know it’s said all the time but they really don’t make many films like this anymore!

  • Daniel

    The 70’s was the greatest decade in American film. Good, non-formula movies made tons of money, so talented directors were given enormous latitude. That’s the best way to understand how The Exorcist got made. If you were known as a talented, artistic director, you were given free reign.

  • Michael_M

    “Why do you guys think we don’t see movies like The Exorcist hit that same level of mainstream awareness today?”

    No one has ever seen a vampire or a zombie. If someone actually believes in ghosts, few have experiences that they would cite as direct contact.

    The faithful, on the other hand, claim that they have a personal connection to their God. On a daily basis they will talk to their deity and believe that He is influencing their life. At least that was true 40 years ago.

    Society is increasingly secular. The non-theistic portion of the population is expanding. Movies with religious themes like The Last Exorcism don’t resonate nearly as much, either individually or socially.

    Several years ago, I was watching news coverage of a Marilyn Manson concert that I recall was taking place in a small southern town. A teenage girl was being interviewed and she said she actually believed something bad would happen, suggesting that the ground would open up and winged demons would fly out. This view is so rare that I doubt it’s possible we’ll ever have an Exorcist phenomenon again.

    The closest we would come is something related to climate change. I was personally deeply affected by The Road because it seemed to be a documentary about our future. Very depressing stuff. As the damage we have done to the environment becomes more obvious, and if the depiction in a film was bleak enough, we could possibly see mass suicides under the right circumstances. At least by us depressed folks.

    • Primeus

      religious movies just do not have the same impact they use to. Less and less people believe in organized religion. That isn’t to say people are not spiritual but that’s not the same as being a Christian.

      The Christian mythology just doesn’t hold the same sway over the public it did 40yrs ago.

      Also the public is just not shocked anymore. Stuff like Halloween, Jaws, The Omen, Carrie, The Exorcist were shocking in their day. Nothing like them had ever been made so it was like watching a porno for the first time.

      Now? We have seen it all, and that stuff just doesn’t have a impact on us. I am 35, and my mom was pregnant with me when she went to see Carrie, and she said they were handing out barf bags when they gave you your tickets. She said the same thing happen when she went to see Jaws.

      Can you imagine that? The world has changed..

  • Dr.murder

    Somebody watch the Serbian Film or Martyrs and tell me something doesn’t shock people any more. Not saying there are classics but they attack the stability of the rational mind. Albeit by punching it in the face with utter disgust and horror. But thats what we ask for and demand. So…..

  • carlos.filipe

    I was fortunate enough to watch this masterpiece when it returned to the theatres a while back, it was like the 10th time, but it felt like the very first, still scares everyone to the core. Very intimate, personal little movie. And off course, the fact that in those times any thing like that, would be considered a personal ofense to the Pope him self, the bang ecoed through the ages.

    Why in recent years even with paranormal activity or blair witch, this kind of horror does not stick? I do not believe it’s the audience, i believe it’s the studios witch only want money, yet they do not support the creative minds, sometimes when they do it’s because they do not believe, Saw and Paranormal Activity where kinda like that, no budget, no big loss, then… bum. And someone in the studio goes: OMG, what just happened, really? with that? ok, then, lets do 6 more.
    Then, only then they realise that they should keep the same team, and give them everything they want.
    But that only happens after the first bum… Paranormal Activity and Saw are the perfect examples. But offcourse, what they really believe, what they really invest are what drives teens man, Twilight… loads of money, loads of fans, and they probably know that they created the most hated and honestly bad movies of the genre ever. And they don’t give a crap, cause they are in for the money.