Brothers Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor
will we learn? Every time a studio foists
one of these "never before seen"
version on us it's almost always a letdown.
Who can forget the STAR
WARS: THE SPECIAL EDITION debacle from
a few years ago? I paid good money and stood
in line in the rain for bigger explosions
and some cheesy scenes that were best left
where they'd been since 1977 the
cutting room floor.
But, I'm always willing to
take a chance, and when the expanded "never
before seen" version of William Friedkin's
superb horror thriller THE EXORCIST made
its way to DVD, I was more than ready.
What's that they say about
"fool me once, shame on me?"
Expanded by about 15 minutes
THE EXORCIST: THE VERSION YOU'VE NEVER SEEN
is really THE VERSION YOU DON'T NEED TO
SEE. The alleged "strength" of
the re-release lies in four key scenes:
an elongated sequence in which Regan (Linda
Blair) is put through an excruciating series
of tests to help doctors determine why the
hell she's peeing on the carpet and telling
astronauts their gonna croak in space; a
chat between Frs. Merrin and Karras after
going down to the devil in the first attempt
at exorcism; the infamous spider-walk scene;
and, a tacked-on ending.
The first sequence is a testament
to Friedkin's directing ability as we really
feel Regan's pain as she's put through this
battery of tests. It helps set up a medical
explanation for her behavior and brings
some support to a scene between Regan and
her mother (Ellen Burstyn) later in the
film. Big deal.
I'm gonna have to take the
word of people that I talked to about the
chat between Merrin (Max Von Sydow) and
Karras (Jason Miller). Apparently, it's
taken from the book and sets up a theological
point that maybe it's the people around
the girl that are the target, not the girl.
Like I said, I'll take their word for it
because the flick had put me to sleep by
that point. I woke up right after that,
but they assured me it wasn't worth going
As for the "spider-walk,"
I'd have to say it was unnecesarry. It happens
at the tail end of a conversation between
Burstyn's character and her assistant. They're
talking, Mom gasps and we see Regan trotting
down the steps more "crab-like"
than "spider-like," and some bloody
goo seeps out her mouth. The effect is fast,
certainly weird, and wouldn't be missed
were it not for people talking about it
for the last 27 years.
The ending, well, the less
said about that the better. If you've seen
the original film you know that as they're
leaving, Fr. Dyer a friend of Karras's
stops at the house. We get an idea
that Regan has some memory of the sacrifice
made by Karras because she sees Dyer's collar
and hugs him. Burstyn gives him Merrin's
medal found in the room, they drive off,
he looks down the stairs, cue 'Tubular Bells.'
Instead, there's an exchange
back and forth of the medal like it's a
hot potato, and then Dyer ends up chatting
with Detective Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb),
echoing an earlier conversation between
Kinderman and Karras. And it's a dopey one
about movies! Whether it was an attempt
to add levity and make us forget about THE
EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC I don't know, but
it completely blows the spooked-out, walk
across your tombstone power possessed (no
pun intended) by the original.
Do yourself a favor and stick
to the 1973 version. Move along people,
there's nothing to see here.