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The Exorcist (1973)

R  |   |  Horror  |  26 December 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 269,819 users   Metascore: 82/100
Reviews: 1,036 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 Devil Inside 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?


Lalo Schifrin's score was rejected (see also The Amityville Horror (1979)). William Friedkin later said that had he heard the music of Tangerine Dream (who scored his later film Sorcerer (1977)) earlier, he would have had them score this film (from the "Sorcerer" soundtrack liner notes). Friedkin actually hated the music so much that he yelled for the orchestra to stop playing, removed the reels that had been recording the music from the sound desk, and promptly threw the reels into the streets, all in front of Lalo and his wife. See more »


When Karras listens to the recording of possessed Regan backwards, the questions the priest asks her are heard speaking forward. The questions should be heard backwards. 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 The Pee Wee Herman Show (1981) See more »


Carly and Carole
Written by Eumir Deodato
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

They don't make em like they used to...
17 May 2005 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

"The scariest movie of all time". Some movie goers agree and some disagree. I belong to the former group, though I would like to rephrase it to "One of the scariest movies of all time". For those of you who have been living in a cave for the past twenty two years, the story is of a pre-pubescent girl, Regan (Linda Blair), possessed by a demon whom purports to be the Devil himself ("Now kindly undo these straps!").

In this day and age of schlock fest horror films being relentlessly released (or spewed out for want of a better term) by the big wig studios on a quest to cash in on the latest teenage trend, this premise for a horror story may not seem so scary to most. However, it's the road we take to arrive at this supposition that makes this film stand out from the rest.

The seeds of dread and fear are planted early with screen legend Max Von Sydow's Father Merrin receiving disturbing and familiar Omens of what is to come during an archaeological dig in Northern Iraq.

We're then taken to the setting where the real horror will begin in the Georgetown home of Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), a successful divorcée film actress living with her daughter Regan. We're initially presented with a Regan who loves horses, has a close and loving relationship with her mother, is uncomfortable with the strained relationship between her parents and has the innocent demeanour and narrow vocabulary of every normal young girl.

The carefully crafted and ever so gradual change in Regan's personality, the strange drawings and figurines she creates, the emergence of Captain Howdy (Regan's imaginary friend) and strange outbursts ("You're gonna die up there") and so called physical convulsions force Chris to turn to doctors and eventually psychiatrists to try and get to the bottom of Regan's ever worsening behaviour. Her vocabulary becomes quite extensive with spine chilling, sudden maturity and her outbursts more terrifyingly violent. After exhausting all the "somatic" possibilities for Regan's troubles Chris desperately seeks help from world weary Jesuit Psychiatrist Priest Father Karras (Jason Miller) requesting an exorcism.

By the time Karras meets Regan, any semblance of the innocent young girl has completely vanished. Karras is grappling with his faith and subsequently doubts she is truly 'possessed'. Finally convinced that an exorcism is the way to go, he seeks permission from the Catholic Church, who grant him with the condition that he perform it with the help of the experienced Father Merrin.

Merrin arrives like a knight in shining armour for the ultimate showdown! A great screenplay by William Peter Blatty (based on his book), intelligent directing from William Friedken and outstanding performances from all the cast, particularly Ellen Burstyn as the traumatised mother make for a classic piece of horror that will stand the test of time. 10/10

108 of 146 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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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
Why does 'help me' convince Karras? Sugarminx
Laying out/mapping the MacNeil house (warning: novel contained...haha) pscates
The Exorcist on BBC... detataandrea
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