Tag Archives: Shudder

[Review] Shudder’s “Exorcist” Documentary : LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST

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Let me start off by stating that I’m fairly certain, I could be the world’s biggest whore for horror film documentaries. To dive into the behind-the -scene encounters involving those who made some of our most cherished genre pictures, is close to Godliness. Also, it totally helps at those Horror Movie Trivia nights. So when I caught wind that Shudder was releasing an documentary exclusively with William Friedkin on The Exorcist, I damn near had a happy anxiety attack as TRUE docs on the film are scarce with the exception of a few under-the-radar specials on networks such as REELZ and A&E.

To put it it mildly, I was pretty excited to see the mastermind Friedkin going pedal to the medal with his infamous visionary experience of Blatty’s novel. And to my delightful surprise, the documentary was A LOT more than a “making of” type deal. So much more…

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Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist run time sits in at about 105 minutes of an in-depth exploration of Friedkin’s inspirations that led to his directing-style approach for his notable films; including of course The Exorcist. If one ever wanted to sit and pick the brain of the 85-year-old director, this documentary gives you close to everything you would want to know and more. One would even go so far as saying that if you’re an aspiring film-student, than this is basically some free and sound advice from one of the best- so if you’re in that group, might want to put this in your watch queue.

When touching on The Exorcist, this doc will absolutely give even the BIGGEST Exorcist fan a few new nuggets of knowledge one may have not known about the film unless you just so happen to be in Friedkin’s inner-circle. From where exactly the idea of that infamous, iconic image of Merrin on the street cam from, the casting of the actors, (one of which might just blow your mind) and the journey into finding the perfect instrumentals for the picture, this will give everyone a new appreciation for all the painstaking blood, sweat, and literal tears that went into making the horror masterpiece.

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Obviously I want to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but one thing I will say that won’t take away any “eureka moments” is the recurring theme throughout the doc that Friedkin is heavily influenced by the arts of the Renaissance Period which truly gives this doc some really beautiful cinematography and visuals that one usually doesn’t see in well, a horror film documentary. This chronicle of The Exorcist is visually speaking, the prettiest looking-thing I’ve ever seen in this type of arena and I have to really give a shout-out for making this aesthetically appeasing to the eyes as well as keeping me intrigued throughout the duration of the program.

With all that being said, LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST premieres on Shudder November 19th, 2020 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

BUY: THE EXORCIST (DIRECTOR’S CUT)

LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST To Premiere on Shudder in November

I think it goes without saying that streaming service for horror fans SHUDDER, is the premiere virtual hot spot for not just October viewing, but year-round long as hey- this is a lifestyle for us am I right?! Beyond national treasures as The Last Drive-In, In Search of Darkness, Scare Me, and the all-new Sam Trick R Treat Holiday Ghoul Log, Shudder extends its exclusive content arm towards an intriguing new documentary involving the movie dubbed, of course, the scariest film of all time- THE EXORCIST premiering next month on the horror streaming service!

Actual footage of me trying to get to the TV before the children. Usually works.

From award-winning documentarian Alexandre O. Philippe, (HITCHCOCK’S SHOWER SCENE (2017), MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN (2019), and DOC OF THE DEAD (2014) LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST sets out to explore the uncharted depths of William Friedkin’s mind’s eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography.

Before its premiere to the general public on Shudder, The film, which had its world premiere at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival and was an official selection of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, will also stream this weekend as part of the Nightstream Film Festival.

Per the Press Release:

“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the exceptional team at Shudder to bring LEAP OF FAITH to an audience of such savvy, passionate fans of genre cinema. Without a doubt — this is a perfect home and partnership for our film,” said Alexandre O. Philippe.

“LEAP OF FAITH continues our commitment to bringing the best programming about horror, thriller and the supernatural to our members,” said Craig Engler, Shudder General Manager. “Alexander has created an unparalleled look at one of the greatest horror films of all time, giving viewers direct access to William Friedkin in this can’t-miss documentary,”

 LEAP OF FAITH: WILLIAM FRIEDKIN ON THE EXORCIST hits the streaming platform on November 19th, 2020 in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

Our Need for Joe Bob is Unmistakable

Folks of a certain age understand compulsion better than anyone. And I’m not talkin’ about overindulging in food or alcohol or even aardvarkin’. No, this is far more specific: an absolutely animalistic compulsion to see a film based entirely on its video store cover art if you know what I mean, (and if you grew up in the eighties) I think you do.

As a lad I just had to know what treasures lay beneath the fascinating covers of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (1976), as well a film that for whatever reason always caught my eye but my family had never rented.

For years as a child I spent weekends at my grandparents’ house. It was in the country, I could grab my baseball glove and tennis ball and toss it against the house steps and visualize owning my friends the next time we squared off (it never worked, by the way), and my grandpa would always let me drive the John Deere riding mower while their dog Pete followed me around the expansive yard. It was comforting to be there with them and the hound, an unmistakable slice of heaven.

Neither of my grandparents were movie buffs, but my grandma always made a point to grab a bottle of Pepsi and glass of ice during the 10 o’clock news so she could get caffeinated and stay up with me.

Like clockwork, my grandpa would turn in right after that broadcast, then she and I would settle in to watch whatever B-movie fare the local affiliate had secured for that week. The only one I remember, however, was the one repped by cover art that had caught my eye but eluded my view — IT’S ALIVE (1974).

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I remember leaning in as the screen transitioned from the WKBT nightly news to a quick preview for Larry Cohen’s weird tale of a killer baby. Thoughts of that cover art’s cradle with and a claw peeking out played through my mind as I watched in riveted terror (for perspective, I wasn’t quite 10 years old). But there was an odd comfort in that fear, because I knew that my grandmother was right there beside me and grandpa was sleeping in the next room. Though frightened, I was safe, and that sense of security was unmistakable.

In that moment, I knew that a lifelong devotion to horror was set into motion, which led to THE SHINING (1980) and FRIGHT NIGHT (1985) and later, midnight soirees with a cowboy hat-wearing, beer-guzzling smartass on The Movie Channel.

Drive-In Theater turned to MonsterVision and when I found myself working at a television station years later, I asked the high sheriffs if I could resurrect their collection of public domain films into a B-Movie homage to Joe Bob Briggs. They said yes, and for three years my delight was unmistakable.

As Briggs is apt to say, movies are intended to be enjoyed with an audience, a communal experience. A stance proven time and again through the connectivity of The Movie Channel and TNT and the fact that two of the people I worked with at the TV studio had previously labored at another — WKBT.

So, when Joe Bob made his triumphant return to Shudder with The Last Drive-In just shy of two years ago, that unmistakable sense of safety and the nostalgia that came along with it flooded over every nerve in my body.

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What was supposed to be a last, 24-hour hurrah for the Drive-In Jedi quickly turned into Friday night double features that not only obliterated Shudder’s server but unwittingly triggered a silent alarm that drew every Drive-In Mutant who had watched Briggs alone in their youth into a larger family that they never knew they had. That communal sense of acceptance and love was also unmistakable.

Shortly after the death of IT’S ALIVE’s writer and director Larry Cohen last March, Joe Bob selected Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982) from the Shudder library to celebrate the life and talent of one of the most uniquely talented filmmakers to ever walk the Earth. But before the picture rolled, Briggs shared something that has stayed with me every day since:

“You can be half-drunk and just woke up and turn on the TV and if it’s a Larry Cohen movie you instantly know it,” continuing “the characters talk in this rhythm, it’s just unmistakable.”

Unmistakable.

Cohen’s singular skill and the gorilla filmmaking that brought it to fruition, to say nothing of the millions who believed they were alone in their love for films like Cohen’s only to find that they were part of something much bigger years later. The experiences may have been individualized in our youth, but we later discovered that those memories were unmistakably shared.

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From a late night horror film on WKBT to working with friends who’d called that station home, from the compulsion of video store cover art to the Drive-In Theater to MonsterVision to Shudder, all experiences that were part of something much bigger, a larger safety net that only togetherness can create.

And now we find ourselves firmly entrenched in the quarantine-shelter-in-place-social-distancing of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of us find ourselves ripped from loved ones and the routine of our daily lives, feeling lost and lonely. We need our safety net now more than ever, and just as we feel our sanity starting to slip, we are less than a fortnight from the fright.

Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl will give us Season 2 of The Last Drive-In on the evening of April 24 and it could not come at a better time. We need family, we need friends, we need the safety net of the loving acceptance that only a Briggs-led communal experience can provide.

When the curtain goes up on that first episode, whether it serves as a distraction or makes you feel normal again, however momentary, we will all be reminded of our own similar but unique late night horror movie experience that set our collective journey into motion.

We will be compelled to watch. It will be much needed. It will be therapeutic. But above all, every emotion it evokes will be unmistakable.

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