Since bursting into cinemas on 26th December 1973, ‘The Exorcist’ has gone on to be one of the most iconic films in the horror genre. Director William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel of the same name (Blatty also wrote the screenplay), caused widespread controversy over its depiction of a young girl being possessed by the devil. In the years after its release the film was banned in certain countries and even here in the UK, it wasn’t made available to buy widely until 1998.
In October, which marks the 50th anniversary of ‘The Exorcist’, a new film will arrive in cinemas titled ‘The Exorcist: Believer’. Directed by David Gordon Green (the ‘Halloween’ franchise), the film is the first of three films in the series that will be released over the coming years. With the franchise about to be thrust into the spotlight again, it’s timely to look back at the film’s impact with Nat Segaloff’s new book ‘The Exorcist Legacy: 50 Years of Fear’. The expansive book looks not only at the original film and the events around it, but also the continuing franchise including the upcoming new trilogy.
Opening with a foreword from John A. Russo, the screenwriter behind the classic ‘Night of the Living Dead’, the book wastes no time jumping into the original film. It’s actually quite fascinating to read about the original press screening for the film, which took place on Christmas Day. Amazingly critics still went to see it and at that time there was no clue the film would have the impact and reaction that it did.
As is to be expected, a large part of the book focuses on the original film. That’s what most people will be interested in but also, as Segaloff proves, there’s a lot to mine around it. Perhaps the most interesting parts are around the casting of Linda Blair as Regan, the young girl possessed in the film, and the insights shared by Ellen Burstyn, the iconic actor who appeared in the first film and will be in the new instalment. Segaloff gives you a good feel of how the first movie was created and the impact it had on its cast and crew.
After the exploration of the original, Segaloff turns his attention to the sequels and the attempts to continue the franchise. If you’ve ever seen any of the other films, you’ll know that they haven’t been very good but it’s still interesting to hear about how they came to be and the part they’ve played in the franchise’s history. For those looking for a sneak peek at what’s to come, there is some information about the new trilogy but not a lot. Ellen Burstyn talks about her reluctance to step back into ‘The Exorcist’ world and David Gordon Green shares a few little gems as interviews with him took place during the production of ‘The Exorcist: Believer’.
‘The Exorcist Legacy: 50 Years of Fear’ is an engaging and interesting read for fans of the franchise. Segaloff really does dive deep and I’m sure there’ll be nuggets in there that even the most hardcore of fans don’t know. If you have even a passing interest in ‘The Exorcist’, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of this book and learning more about the enduring franchise.
Publisher: Citadel Press Release date: 25th July 2023 Buy ‘The Exorcist Legacy: 50 Years of Fear’ now