Tag Archives: William Friedkin

An Unholy Christmas Gift: Audience Reactions and the Phenomenon of “The Exorcist”

Christmas at the cinema has been a long-standing holiday tradition for many families. After a chaotic morning of shuffling around from house to house opening unwanted presents of socks and fruitcakes while dealing with overly loud in-laws, one tends to want to wind down with a good wholesome film.

Enter The Exorcist, which opened nationwide in theaters the day after “Jesus’ birthday” on December 26th, 1973.

Bit of a stray from good ol’ Rankin Bass entertainment, eh?

When it comes to The Exorcist, you can’t even to attempt to argue that BOTH the 1971 novel and 1973 film are nothing short of a massive achievement in both the horror genre and filmmaking in general. What many people call “The scariest movie of all time” has left its imprint of terror on people. In 1973 when the film first premiered it caused QUITE a stir all over the nation. It was like nothing anyone has ever seen on screen, or even witnessed at a theatre. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was the first to bring serious public controversy and horror to movie audiences with the shocking shower scene, but The Exorcist raised the bar far higher than anyone could ever imagine and audiences were absolutely not ready for this shit. You’ve heard the stories: people fainting in the theaters, vomiting, some bolting out the door like a bat out of hell to their closest church out of fear and to repent.

Goddamn. What a beautiful site. I wish I could have experienced this phenomenon.

The Exorcist opened the same day in 24 theaters in 21 metro areas in the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, December 26th, 1973 with strategically creating a sense of scarcity by adding new theaters slowly over the course of the following months per the studios. The results made The Exorcist a smash hit, even beating out The Sting which was released on Christmas Day and as far as Holiday theatrical releases go- The Exorcist is only trailing behind TITANIC as far as gross income.

Of course, we have to value the other strategic promotions from the studios where they really ate up the “getting ill” inside the theater aspect. That alone peaked people’s interest, only making them want to watch it more- as human nature goes, you tell us not to touch something, it makes us only lust after it all the more. This movie was not expected to do well. However, after the news pounced on the rumors of people fainting in the theater, people lined up in droves in freezing temperatures to get in on The Exorcist phenomenon.

Bless those people’s frozen chops for helping make The Exorcist one of the highest-grossing R-Rated films of all time and giving the world a Christmas miracle: One where it centered around ironically, a demonic possession.

[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.



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.