ACF Middlebrow #19: The Exorcist

 

The podcast turns to horror, Catholic and scientific. I am joined by veteran and writer Scott Beauchamp to talk about William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and about Russell Kirk’s views on horror — having read his very humanistic essay on horror in Modern Age. We talk about body horror as a way of confronting evil, of raising existential questions: Is being human special, after all, or just another meaningless accident? Next week, we turn to the scientific horror for comparison–The Thing.

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  1. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    A fascinating discussion. I first read The Exorcist in the 1970s. I found the book terrifying even though I was a “fallen” Catholic, having gone atheist years before. My fear which grew from the story came from the sense that if there is a demon, then there must be a God, but at the same time, if there is a God, then the priests of that God should be able to cast out the demon. In those final scenes with Merrin dead, the only way that Carras can draw out the demon is to call him into himself and then kill himself by throwing himself out of the window. That entire scenario left me shocked as I read it, and, later, when I watched it done so effectively on screen. It is somehow easier to believe in an existential universe in which we are nothing than it is to believe that there is a God and that he has also chosen to allow evil to exist in a corporeal or spiritual form, i.e., the Devil. Understanding science, relying on rules which preclude the supernatural is, to me, far less terrifying that the infinite possibilities that could exist in a world less bounded by discernable scientific rules and principles.

    I have watched the film several times, and I have enjoyed every time. It is one of the most effective horror film I have ever seen.

    • #1
  2. LC Member
    LC
    @LidensCheng

    Everything about this movie makes it a perfect horror movie. The cinematography, the acting, the script, the score, and the pacing. I watch it every 2-3 years or so. Still freaks me out every time. 

    • #2
  3. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt
    @BrianWatt

    This may still be playing on Netflix. The voice that emanates from this woman being exorcised is quite disturbing. 

    • #3
  4. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    LC (View Comment):

    Everything about this movie makes it a perfect horror movie. The cinematography, the acting, the script, the score, and the pacing. I watch it every 2-3 years or so. Still freaks me out every time.

    Hey, LC! Long time… Glad you like it so much. This should be the podcast for you then!

    • #4
  5. Judge Mental Member
    Judge Mental
    @JudgeMental

    I hope you mean the John Carpenter version of The Thing.

    • #5
  6. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Yes.

    • #6
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    I saw the Howard Hawks version of The Thing the first time when I was 8 years old, in 1953. It scared me half to death. I still own a copy of it on VHS. It actually was extremely well done. The acting and directing were superb. However, it had very little in common with the original source material. Carpenter’s version was much closer to the short story on which it is based. I am looking forward to next week’s podcast. I love horror films.

    • #7
  8. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):

    I saw the Howard Hawks version of The Thing the first time when I was 8 years old, in 1953. It scared me half to death. I still own a copy of it on VHS. It actually was extremely well done. The acting and directing were superb. However, it had very little in common with the original source material. Carpenter’s version was much closer to the short story on which it is based. I am looking forward to next week’s podcast. I love horror films.

    I like the Hawks thing, too. But Carpenter’s is just the sort of horror for our times-

    • #8
  9. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I’m wondering if you made a pilgrimage to The Exorcist steps during your trip to Washington.  Some people still take the long way around at night :)

    • #9
  10. Titus Techera Contributor
    Titus Techera
    @TitusTechera

    Pilgrimage? I wouldn’t go that far, if you allow the pun.

    Didn’t go to Georgetown at all.

    • #10

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