DVD Reviews

DVD Review: The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology

By Jeff Swindoll Oct 16, 2006, 19:32 GMT

DVD Review: The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology

The Exorcist -Stars Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty WinnDirectors: William Friedkin Theatrical Release Date: December 26, 1973Synopsis Based on the 1971 novel by William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist marries three different scenarios into one extraordinary plot. 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 ...more

“The power of Christ compels you.”

Just in time for the Halloween season, Warner Brothers brings together all of the films in the Exorcist series.  However, what they don’t do is to really give you too much of a reason to buy this set.  It just compiles together all of what they’re already released.

Exorcist (1973) Actress Chris MacNeil’s (Ellen Burstyn) daughter Regan (Linda Blair) starts to act strangely after playing with a Ouija board.  There are strange happenings in her house and Regan’s behavior continues to get stranger and stranger.  Regan is tested by a team of doctors but they really can’t figure out what’s wrong with her.  Her behavior escalates to the point were the thought is that she’s possessed.  Father Karras (Jason Miller) is brought in and decides that Regan is demon-possessed.  Unfortunately, he’s a priest going through a crisis of faith – he’s losing his.  Father Lanchester Merrin (Max Von Sydow) is brought in to exorcism the demon leading to a explosive climax. It is easily worth 4 stars by itself.

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) Regan (Linda Blair) is a teenager and is seemingly normal after her encounter with a demon.  Seemingly normal, but she’s still under the care of Manhattan psychologist Dr. Tuskin (Louise Fletcher).  Father Philip Lamont (Richard Burton, looking very lost) is asked by the church to investigate Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow, in flashbacks) so his first stop is to interview Regan.  Under synchronized hypnosis with Regan, he finds out that the younger Merrin exorcised a demon from a boy in Africa.  After finding this out, Lamont travels to Africa to track down the boy (whose grown up into James Earl Jones).  What he finds out in Africa has him rushing back to the States because the demon is on the hunt for Regan again.  The sequel really comes up lacking and is only worth about 2 stars on its own.

The Exorcist arrives

The Exorcist arrives

Exorcist III (1990) Detective Bill Kinderman (George C. Scott taking over from Lee J. Cobb who played the role in the original) is investigating a rash of murders with religious overtones.  His friend Father Dyer (Ed Flanders) ends up in the hospital and eventually is a victim of the religious murders.  His investigation leads him to the psych ward of the hospital where he finds a friend he thought dead but is now possessed by the spirit of a notorious serial killer. A solid film in the series and worth 3.5 stars.

Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) and Dominion: The Prequel to the Exorcist (2005) Father Merrin (Stellan Skarsgard) is part of a post-World War II archeological dig that uncovers a church in a place where it shouldn’t be since it was thought that Christianity had not spread to this area at the time the church dates from.  What’s even stranger is that the church appears to have been built and buried after construction was finished.  The two prequels equal out to Beginning being worth about 2.5 stars and Dominion worth about 3 stars.

This set brings together all of the Exorcist films in four slim cases, but seems like a missed opportunity.  Basically it just collects together all of the previous releases.  Where it is a missed opportunity is that rumors have persisted of a different cuts of both Exorcist II and III, but the set just repackages the previous DVD releases and adds nothing to them.  A commentary on Exorcist III by William Peter Blatty would’ve been most welcome as well. 

The Exorcist is horror classic and worthy to be in your DVD collection.  In 2000, extra footage was remastered and added back into the film making “The Version You’ve Never Seen” (about 10 minutes worth including the fabled “spider walk” scene).  A 1977 sequel was ill-advised, featured a lost looking Richard Burton, and was one of the biggest box offices flops.  Exorcist III featured author William Peter Blatty in the director’s chair and in my opinion was much better as far as sequels go (anything looks good next to Exorcist II). However, it was deemed too short on gore and too long on talk, and really didn’t heat up the box office. 

The spider walk sequence from The Version Youve Never Seen

The spider walk sequence from The Version You've Never Seen

2004 saw producers dipping into the Exorcist sequel well once more.  They hired director Paul Schrader to fashion the prequel, but when they saw what they had paid for they hired Renny Harlin to come in rework the film to add more gore and less talk.  Luckily, fans wanted to see Schrader’s vision and his version was finally able to make it onto DVD. 

All of the films are presented in anamorphic widescreen.  The Exorcist is now a two disc set that brings together the original 25th Anniversary Edition (122 minutes) and The Version You’ve Never Seen (132 minutes).  The Exorcist is a double sided disc with the movie on one side and the special features on the other.

Special features for this include the feature length documentary “The Fear of God: The making of the Exorcist” (4 stars, excellent doc), Introduction and commentary by director William Friedkin, second commentary by author William Peter Blatty, and much more.  Special features for the Version You’ve Never Seen include a commentary by Friedkin, theatrical trailer, and TV and radio spots. 

Exorcist II special features include a 2 minute alternate opening, the teaser trailer, and theatrical trailer.  Exorcist III, sadly, just has the theatrical trailer. 

Exorcist: the Beginning has a commentary by director Renny Harlin, behind-the-scenes featurette, and theatrical trailer.  Dominion has a commentary by director Paul Schrader, additional scenes, and a still gallery.

Richard Burton meets Regan then asks if she knows where he is

Richard Burton meets Regan then asks if she knows where he is

If you’ve already bought any or all of the Exorcist films then I don’t see a reason to buy this set.  What this might appeal to are those who don’t have any of the films and are interested in having an instant collection.  If Warner had offered different cuts or more special features this set might’ve been more appealing.

The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology is now available at Amazon and AmazonUK. Visit the DVD database for more information.

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The Exorcist - The Complete Anthology

The Exorcist -Stars Jason Miller, Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Kitty WinnDirectors: William Friedkin Theatrical Release Date: December 26, 1973Synopsis Based on the 1971 novel by William ...more

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