I remember it as if it were yesterday. My sister (4 years younger than I) and I were walking along the sidewalk of the quaint and quiet little town of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, when she slipped and fell in the gutter.
The fireman (they used that male-specific term, then) saw it and raced across the street, to help. Next, we both helped her cross to the fire station where he could give her first aid.
She had lacerations on her leg that required bandaging. It was a gruesome start to a more disturbing evening.
You see, we were on our way to see “The Exorcist.”
But let me set the stage first. We’re both raised Catholic (I’m not so much anymore, and sort of consider myself a ‘defrocked Catholic.’) Why is our religious upbringing important? The mother of the girl/victim in the movie (the one who was possessed,) called in two Catholic priests, to perform an exorcism on her daughter.
It was a last, desperate attempt to rid the child of her possession.
At the time, my sister and I were 28 and 24 respectively. I was a young, divorced, single parent of a small child…a girl. So, the fact the movie starred a young female child made it all the more personal…for me.
We sat through child Regan’s awful transformations…the screaming swears…the threats…the stigmata-like signs that appeared on her body…the strange guttural language she spoke (but could not have known)…the awful things that happened to the priests, especially the one who battled his own diminishing faith, for the demon deduced all and used it against him.
These tapped into all our own fears of Evil Incarnate.
Regan’s levitation raised us up and hurtled us down, afterwards. This was real power, a might we’d only countenance in a seriously-evil (or good) force. But this alignment was simple to figure: This spirit was bent on no good.
We came away significantly shaken. It had been a brutal two hours.
Know the worst of it? One of us would sleep for years afterward with a light on, at night, in her room. It had had that much of an impact.
So, was “The Exorcist” the scariest movie of all time? You betcha…That’s my vote (and the vote of many others.) Know what’s second? Jack Nicholson’s “The Shining” (this one did me in for staying at grand old hotels and made me avoid mazes, for all time.)
What’s your take on this? Did you see “The Exorcist”? Is it your idea of “Scariest Movie of All Time?” Maybe you’d vote for “The Shining” (that’s the ever-lovable Jack in the side pic.)
Or do you have another you’d label?
P.S. And now, from Moviefone, “20 Things ou Didn’t Know About ‘the Exorcist’ ” such as “How did movie director achieve young girl’s voice sounding hoars and gravelly?” Interesting stuff, indeed!