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    DVD Video - Reviews [Exorcist: Version You've Never Seen (Special Edition)]


    Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen (Special Edition)

    Release Date:

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 1973
    Run Time: 132 minutes
    Rating: R
    Starring: Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, Kitty Winn, Jack MacGowran, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb, Ellen Burstyn
    Directed by: William Friedkin
    Produced by: William Peter Blatty
    Written by: William Peter Blatty
      Movie Summary: [Horror]

        Furniture flies about a room. Strange voices cry out. Heads spin. Linda Blair plays the possessed 12-year-old child, Ellen Burstyn is her distraught mother and Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller are the troubled priests determined to break Satan's hold. Good vs. evil never hit the screen with such searing power and enduring impact. Written by Oscar-winner William Peter Blatty.

    DVD Details
    • Widescreen: 1.85:1, Enhanced for 16X9 TVs, Color, 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, Surround, Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Closed Captioned, Region 1
    • Audio Commentary by director William Friedkin, 11 minutes of deleted and altered footage, 2 Trailers, 4 TV spots and 2 radio spots, Production Info
    See Full Disc Details...

    Reviewer: Marc Flemming [Staff]


            B ack in the year of 1973, we weren’t only much younger - we spent a small portion of that time in our lives enclosed in a dark theater experiencing any number of emotions - be it terror, disgust, disbelief - as we watched the lives of a mother and daughter get ripped apart before us at the hands of Satan’s spawn. Currently the movie arrives hand-in-hand with the tagline, “The Scariest Movie of All Time” after being declared as such by the media in 1999. Was it? Is it still? One thing is for certain, Warner Bros. knew the impact the film has had on the movie-going community not only then - but now to this day. And so they re-released the film to theaters (Sept., 2000) with 11 minutes of additional footage not included in the original release. Now Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen is in our homes ... on DVD ... as evil as ever - in fact, a little bit more evil than before.

    Linda Blair’s rendition of the infamous little girl, Regan, has been immortalized in the annals of horror mythology. Her threatening voice, her choice words, her empty eyes, her inability to keep her food down - all variables in a classic formula for horror. And that’s really what The Exorcist is ... a classic. Not only is it one of the most well-known films of all time, the movie made tourist attractions out of various locales found within its frames such as the infamous doomsday stairwell outside of Regan’s bedroom window. If you think the content of The Exorcist is controversial now, imagine how it must have been received in the early 70’s. The Exorcist isn’t just a disturbingly scary tale of unholy events, it’s a very well done and well told story of terror that has truly withstood the test of time ... be it only a short time, the film thus far appears timeless in my opinion.

    What about these 11 extra minutes? Do they just clutter an otherwise complete masterpiece? How to they affect the overall flow of the film? Are they necessary? Or were they removed not only to make the film shorter in an effort to appease the studio ... but because they just didn’t work? Maybe we can answer a few of those questions for you. Of the 48 chapters that make up this movie, 10 of them contain additional footage not seen before. Some are lengthy like the time Regan’s mother first brings her to the doctor. This series of scenes adds depth to her downward spiral making it seem less sudden. Some are short and sweet, such as is the scene that occurs between the priests who quietly discuss the motives of the demonic girl in the other room. As the DVD explains in its extra materials, the most famous scene NOT found in the movie is also included after Regan’s mother hears the dreary news of Burke’s death. The scene involves the possessed girl “spider-walking” down the stairs just before releasing a ghastly growl of blood and saliva. Finally, the end of the film carries on further in effort to counter the “downer” feeling many felt when witnessing the original ending. For the details, take a peek for yourself.

    Wow. What can I say? This version of the film really underwent the technical knife and came away with a beautiful facelift. I directly compared the video transfer of this version with that of the original release back in ’97. There is absolutely no comparison. This version blows it away by leaps and bound in a manner that left me thinking, “Wow - this looks like it could have been filmed in the last five years!” The old version was ridden with dirt and artifacting, given I understand it was one of the first titles released on DVD before releasing titles had become a finely tuned art (with room to go), but this transfer goes well beyond the call of duty. Film traditionalists may not appreciate the next fact I uncover, but the soundtrack has also been radically remixed and frankly - VERY improved upon. I was AS impressed with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on this disc as I was with the video. Folks - this is an older movie looking young again. It’s quite amazing. On another note, I noticed that on this new soundtrack - at least ONE special effect was added. At the beginning of Chapter 4 when the film introduces the Georgetown location, the sound of an airplane can be heard traveling from the left rear to the right rear speaker. This audio effect is NOT present in the original release of The Exorcist on DVD in 1997. It makes me wonder what else was added (or removed) from this soundtrack altering it from the original. That aside, the new audio track consists of several scenes where directional separation is played upon dynamically ... and it’s done quite well.

    The special features of this disc outshine the original release (except for the Cast and Crew section which is all but short of removed from this new version), but comes in a close second behind the 25th Anniversary edition. There are several text features that cover behind-the-scenes information, where writer Blatty and director Friedkin demonstrated their differences, background info surrounding the “spider walk” scene removed from the original film, facts, and awards. Like the 25th Anniversary edition, there are multiple TV/Radio Spots and trailers. And like the 25th Anniversary edition, there is a director’s commentary. This commentary doesn’t have writer Willam Peter Blatty around this time and is, in fact, recorded specifically for this new version. Most of the commentary is a consistent play-by-play account of what is going on in each scene of the film riddled with little bites of background information from time to time. One thing is for certain, listening to the commentary will make it no mystery that Friedkin knows this film well. An interesting segment of the commentary arrives in the beginning as Friedkin explains his trip to Iraq in detail and the purpose behind including this entire segment of the movie which many (who have never really thought about it) feel is strangely misplaced from the rest of the story. The 25th Anniversary edition contains a couple more features that are not included here. The menu has been spiced up both visually and audibly. Early DVD layouts left much to be desired back in the day (comparatively speaking).

    I have to say that I’m thoroughly impressed with the job that was done on this DVD. If I were to create a list of Top 5 films that underwent the most excellent of restoration procedures with the best results - this DVD ranks right up there. If you call yourself a fan of horror and God forbid you don’t have this title in your collection yet, you’ve got no excuses now. In my mind, the new elements are simply add-on pieces missing from an already finished and thoroughly enjoyed puzzle. Yes, the icing on the cake - or in this case - the peas in the soup.


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    Individual Ratings
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    Ratings Based on Scale of 1 - 10 (10 being Best)

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