Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Exorcist: Classic, But Still Scary?

The face that launched massive theater and church attendance!

It most certainly did. It frightened people by its very nature. A young girl becomes possessed of the devil. We must all know the gist by now. Her frantic mother doesn't know what to do. Doctors can't help, this is beyond medical science. But the rest of us sitting in the theater with our hands over our mouths know the problem. SHE IS POSSESSED OF THE DEVIL!

What can be done? Mom finds out a proper exorcism is the only recourse she has, so she arranges it, after a great deal of effort because the Church doesn't do this sort of thing often.

Two priests come, one is the elderly, Father Merrin who knows with whom he is dealing. The priests set about their mission. It's chilling and I found myself saying, 'The power of Christ compels you,' along with the priests! When Regan raises up slowly from the bed, I nearly fainted. That was back in 1973. I was out on a date. Yes, I'm that old!

I remember sitting and waiting for the film to start. When the house lights dimmed, BEFORE THE FILM WENT ON, A GIRL SCREAMED! There was muffled laughter throughout the theater, but we were all nervous!


There are those who say it isn't. They don't find it frightening at all. That's fair, it's their opinion. But let's look at it this way: if a person could become possessed of evil, of the ultimate most intensely powerful evil there was, what then?

I happen to think evil and good exist in the hearts of human beings. However, I do think it is entirely possible for a force of pure evil to exist, something beyond our comprehension or possibly something else. That's up to each and every one of us to decide and think about.

There is a book I read years ago that I recommend to anyone with the slightest interest in this subject. It is entitled, Hostage to the Devil, by Malachi Martin. Father Malachi Martin, a prolific author and ordained Roman Catholic priest and aide to the Vatican, wrote this three years after the release of The Exorcist. It presents, what purports to be, five cases of (American) possession and exorcism. Whatever anyone's beliefs, if they have seen The Exorcist (film)­, I recommend this book. At the very least, it is extremely interesting and thought-provoking (review coming).

Evil has been done in the name of religion and not in the name of religion. I never want to exonerate human beings who have done great evil by blaming a force that may or may not exist. That would let them off the hook. Still, anything is possible. I don't know what the truth is. I can believe what I want, but I don't know. I don't think any one human being can know.

With regard to this film, let us say that anything is possible. If we can do that, the film is that much more horrifying. One of the priests, Father Karras, the one the girl's mother first sought out, battles his own demons. He is guilty about his elderly mother. The evil that he is trying to drive out of the girl, knows this and throws it back in his face. How could it know?! It can't but it does.

There are two forces at work here, good and bad. The film and novel show this in the most dramatic way. Each of us has on our conscience things we have done, wrongs we have committed. What if some night something whispered our wrongs to us, reminding us, demonstrating to us that it knows!

What if we could record it all and play it back so that we knew it wasn't our imagination? What then? I'd be frightened, would you?

So, is the film still scary? I say, yes! This film is still scary because EVIL is scary. Our own belief systems can label that evil whatever we like. It is more comfortable that way. We can pray and put symbols up of our faith 'to protect ourselves' or not. We can scoff and then open up a newspaper and read that a gunman blew away the entire senior class somewhere (anywhere). And we can certainly watch the news any night at all and see all the rotten, murderous acts of violence and insanity that occur with nauseating frequency around the globe.

If a young girl, living in Georgetown in America can be possessed of evil for whatever reason, I find that scary. So yes, the film is still frightening because it presents through good acting, great direction and chilling images, not only a morality play, but a memorable horror film. That's what I think. What about you?

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