March 27, 2017

Terrifying “Exorcist” receiving director-approved Blu-ray treatments


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: The puke will be extra green. The blood will be a vivid red. In fact, everything about William Friedkin’s masterful “The Exorcist” will be amplified when it arrives on a two-disc, high-definition Blu-ray set on Oct. 5 from Warner Home Video.

Friedkin’s “Exorcist” — believed by many to be the scariest film of all time — has been released and re-released in multiple versions since that first screening in 1973. But the director is going on record to say that, through technological advances and the inclusion of rare footage, this will be the version true collectors will want to own.

“After my final cut of the original ‘The Exorcist,’ I took out 12 more minutes before we actually released it in theaters,” Friedkin said in a release. “Years later, (author) Bill Blatty asked if I’d consider reviewing some of that rejected footage (which he always felt should have remained) with an eye towards putting it into a new version. Bill gave me the best piece of material I’ve ever received, and because of that, and because the film had such a major reputation over some 25 years, I agreed to revisit all these scenes.

“When I saw them, I came to realize that Bill was, in fact, right,” Friedkin continued. “With technical advances, scenes that didn’t work then could now be fixed with CGI and there were others that I thought strengthened the spiritual aspect of the film. Warner agreed and released a whole new theatrical print in 2000 which we called ‘The Exorcist: The Version You’ve Never Seen.’ And I now agree with Blatty that this is the best and most complete version.”

And now that it’s on Blu-ray, expect this to be the best-looking version you’ll own. “The Extended Director’s Cut” contains three new documentaries: Raising Hell: Filming the Exorcist, including new revealing set footage produced and photographed by cinematographer Owen Roizman, as well as camera and makeup tests, interviews with Friedkin, actress Linda Blair, author/screenwriter/producer William Peter Blatty and Roizman himself; The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now featuring a tour of the iconic locations where the film was shot, including a visit to the famous “Exorcist steps”; and Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist — with Friedkin and Blatty discussing the different versions of the film and showing outtakes. The result is a new immersive viewing experience that takes you on the set of the film and offers a unique, up-close perspective of the filmmaking and special effects process that is rarely seen.

Newly remastered in 1080p from the original camera negative, the Blu-ray includes both the remastered Extended Director’s Cut as well as the remastered theatrical version of the film.

The Blu-ray edition also will be packaged with a personal letter written by Friedkin inside a 40-page Blu-ray Digibook featuring striking photos, cast bios, revealing production notes and more.

Said Jeff Baker, WHV Executive VP & General Manager, Theatrical Catalog, “Generally speaking, sourcing relevant and provocative film assets for older films (30 years and older), is difficult, and more often than not, proves to be unsuccessful. The never before seen behind the camera treasure trove of material that consumers will see in The Exorcist Blu-ray release is one of the great finds in modern day home entertainment history. Laurent Bouzereau, an acclaimed documentarian, has blended this archival rare footage with updated present day interviews to create a masterpiece that will be treasured and studied for decades to come.”

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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