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Exorcist: Extended Director’s Cut, The (Blu-ray Review)

8 Oct, 2010 By: Angelique Flores

$19.96 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong language and disturbing images.
Stars Linda Blair, Jason Miller, Max Von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn.

On its own, the original cut of The Exorcist already is a masterpiece. In high-definition, the 1973 classic comes frightfully to life.

The two-disc Blu-ray set includes the original theatrical cut and the 2000 extended director’s cut, “The Version You’ve Never Seen,” which includes an extra 12 minutes. Both of these cuts have been released on previous DVD versions. Here, however, the two versions of the films have been remastered for 1080p with astounding results. The film looks fresh but not slick, and rightfully so, while maintaining the darkness in the scenes that call for it.

The set comes with an introduction by director William Friedkin as well as the 75-minute 1998 documentary The Fear of God, about the making of the film. This doc already was included on a previous DVD and features interviews with what seems like nearly all the key players behind the film discussing the shooting, the score, the special effects, the stunts, screen tests, additional deleted scenes, the rumors that the set was cursed and the tough, unorthodox way that Friedkin worked with his actors and crew.

Among the other extras — many of which are recycled from the DVD — are a commentary with Friedkin and one with the screenwriter and novelist William Peter Blatty with sound effects tests on the original cut, a commentary with Friedkin on the extended cut, sketches and storyboards; theatrical trailers and TV spots for both the 1973 and the 2000 theatrical releases as well as radio spots for the 2000 release; and three short interviews with Friedkin and Blatty.

All new in this set are three featurettes: “Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist,” “The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now” and “Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist.”

“Raising Hell” contains new interviews in which some of the cast and crew retell the same tales they recount in Fear of God, which was so exhaustive, I’m not sure there is much more to tell beyond what is in that feature. Most interesting among the new extras is “Faces of Evil,” which gives an honest and thorough explanation of the two different cuts, which put Friedkin and Blatty at odds with each other for years. It goes scene by scene explaining what each deleted and later restored scene meant to the two and to the film, why it was cut and then why it was eventually put back in.

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