It was a dark and stormy night, so we watched this horror classic again (the version you've never seen from 2000 with extra footage restored by the writer, Blatty, and director, Friedkin). Of course, it has lost some of its ability to shock after repeated viewings but it still isn't too hard for me to return mentally to that moment when I stumbled into a dorm lounge at William & Mary where some students were watching this in the dark (its reputation had preceded it and I was totally freaked out). Although probably responsible (to some degree) for the shift from the subtle implication school of horror that left most to the imagination (i.e., Val Lewton productions) to the no-holds-barred explicit approach of showing it all with special effects, Friedkin and team do introduce the horrifying supernatural events with a reasonably slow build up. For example, you may have forgotten the prologue that takes place in northern Iraq showing Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) uncovering an ancient demonic artefact during an archaeological dig. Then, the switch to Georgetown in Washington DC introduces us to actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter Regan (Linda Blair) who seem perfectly normal (although part of a "broken" family: the first suggestion of the devil's work or the potential cause of Regan's later breakdown). Only a short scene with a Ouija board that Regan uses to ask questions of "Captain Howdy" hints at the horror to come. A parallel plot thread introduces us to Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest and psychiatrist, who is trying to look after his elderly mother from a distance (she is in NYC and he is in DC) and simultaneously suffering a spiritual crisis - he feels that he is losing his faith. As Regan's behaviour gradually begins to change (after her bed starts shaking), she is treated to an increasing array of medical tests (some very invasive) before the doctors turn, first to psychiatry, and then to religion. Cue Father Karras and later Father Merrin (freshly returned from the Middle East). A related murder brings Detective Kinderman (Lee J. Cobb) onto the scene but all signs point to Regan and demonic possession (and those steps down to M Street). You know the rest. The funny thing about The Exorcist is that, despite its head-spinning and projectile vomiting and impossibly filthy language and obscene actions produced by a 12-year old girl (with the voice of chain-smoking Mercedes McCambridge), this is really a film that champions faith and conservative family values. Indeed, its arrival in 1973, when the earlier Summer of Love values had been tainted by Altamount, Manson, Vietnam, and the encroaching Nixon scandal, seemed to both echo the problems of the times and also try to claw back some order in the shape of a religious force for good that could exorcise the demons and the horror that they were perpetrating. So, there are deeper tectonic plates upon which the film's crasser surface elements are sliding which may help to explain its lasting power. If you choose to suspend your disbelief (and the book and film _were_ based on true events), then this could certainly freak you out big time.