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The Exorcist (1973)

R  |   |  Horror  |  26 December 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 269,993 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 1,037 user | 298 critic | 24 from Metacritic.com

When a teenage girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter.



(written for the screen by), (novel)
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Father Dyer (as Reverend William O'Malley S.J.)
Barton Heyman ...
Dr. Barringer - Clinic Director (as Pete Masterson)
Rudolf Schündler ...
Gina Petrushka ...
Robert Symonds ...
Dr. Taney
Arthur Storch ...
Thomas Bermingham ...
Tom - President of University (as Reverend Thomas Bermingham S.J.)


A visiting actress in Washington, D.C., notices dramatic and dangerous changes in the behavior and physical make-up of her 12-year-old daughter. Meanwhile, a young priest at nearby Georgetown University begins to doubt his faith while dealing with his mother's terminal sickness. And, book-ending the story, a frail, elderly priest recognizes the necessity for a show-down with an old demonic enemy. Written by Andrew Harmon <aharmon@erols.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Scariest Movie Of All Time Has Returned. In The Version You've Never Seen Before. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and disturbing images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

26 December 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Exorcist: The Version You Haven't Seen Yet  »

Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£151,714 (UK) (19 June 1998)


ESP 1,343,229,032 (Spain) (29 June 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

(1979 re-release)| (director's cut)| (director's cut)| (original release)| (director's cut)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Father Dyer is played by William O'Malley, an actual priest who until 2012 taught at Fordham Prep, a Jesuit high school. See more »


In the basement with the Ouija board, Regan is playing with a table tennis paddle and ball. She puts the ball under the paddle and rests it on the table when her mother brings the Ouija board. Clearly the ball is under the paddle as evidenced by the angle of the paddle. In the very next shot, the paddle is flat on the table and the ball has disappeared. In the next shot, the ball reappears as demonstrated by the angle of the paddle. See more »


[first lines]
Boy: [in Arabic] They've found something... small pieces.
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits after the title. Although it is commonplace now, it was unheard of in 1973. See more »


Referenced in Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) See more »


Written by Krzysztof Penderecki
Performed by Orchestra of the Cracow Philharmonia
Conducted by Henryk Czyz
Courtesy of Philips Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One Genre Renewal movie: The Exorcist - Horror with no Crime, instead Horror with Spirits
25 December 2009 | by (Ottawa, Canada) – See all my reviews

Two terrible sequels and one irrelevant remake were never replaced with the original, the 1973 version of The Exorcist; and no other version will never be any more. Written for the screen and produced by William Peter Blatty, both The Exorcist movie and the novel are incident driven basis of the actual happenings from 1949.

Looking at the most remarkable movies of 1973, there are 3 other important ones that the history of cinema will remember: -- A slow and touching movie from Ingmar Bergman "Cries and Whispers" -- Bernardo Bertolucci's depressive movie, a study of love "Last Tango in Paris" -- A crime story with Redford and Newman "The Sting". Among all and all the other movies that are produced in this year, The Exorcist stands one step further than the rest for its uniqueness on genre renewal. It's not the first movie that features the Demon in its content, yet in the Exorcist the Demon is introduced in the human level. The idea of being possessed by a spirit is used for the first time ever on the silver-screen. Horror genre featuring spirits didn't need to refer to Crime any more like it used to be in Hitchcock ages. Thus crime became a separate genre, and mostly acted conjointly with thrillers from now on.

This uniqueness profits from its sound mixing, great lighting techniques and of course a perfect screenplay. Director William Friedkin was lucky to find his producer Blatty, being also the novel-writer and the idea creator. The plot and the story development goes very smoothly: From Father Merrin's encountering with the Demon Pazuzu in Iraq; to Ellen Burstyn looking for the cure for her daughter's disease, going for visits to every type of doctor... From the noises in the attic, to Regan's peeing on the rug... From decoding the Demon's speech of speaking English in reverse, to the arriving of Merrin... Both the editing and directing gave high qualities to this film.

The 25th Anniversary edition DVD is in my movie collections. It's a must to have for horror fans. Either you have this version of DVD or the year 2000 version; you should check out the special features that reveals the real-life 1949 incident, the missing and the deleted scenes including the Spider-walk scene, sound mixing and sound effects tests show how they created the demon's voice and the BBC documentary: The Fear of God, all in the special features.

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A monster movie of sorts. No such thing as the devil. cliffcarson-502-470231
Is it really that good because... KrisTina_1994
Director's Cut so unnecessary Writerchamp13
The Exorcist on BBC... detataandrea
A couple of questions re: the 'how' and 'why' of it all... pscates
Why does 'help me' convince Karras? Sugarminx
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