Exorcising The Exorcist
I have always enjoyed the thrill of a good horror story, the safety net of the preposterous, entwined with absurd everyday occurrences. They are the best. The Psychological dramas that hint at the supernatural and then in the last act declare it was all in the mind to me, feel like a cheap trick.
As far as I am aware The Exorcist started life as a novel, was turned into a notorious film which caused decades long revulsion and now is a two part radio drama on BBC radio 4. This feels like event radio, a special time slot allocated late into the night, discretionary warnings, a cracking soundscape and the ominous subject matter add up to a sign saying “You have been warned and may not survive the show – The Management”. After the first episode I felt the radio version was a harder ride in the theatre of my mind, leaving the memory of the film feeling like a hideous, slapstick cartoon.
I first saw the film back in the late eighties. The way I remember it, Bletchley Cinema had a midnight double bill showing of Exorcist 1 & 2, I remember coming out of there feeling a bit nauseous and blaming the small tub of mint ice cream I had eaten inside. The films, the first one at least, had succeeded in scaring the life out of me while the second instalment was more like light entertainment. Waiting for us outside the cinema was a small group of placard bearers handing out leaflets in the polite manner of English people protesting back in the eighties would do. Rather than feeling united in Christian Love, this small demonstration added to the feeling that maybe demons do exist and possession is possible. It added to the legend for about 30 seconds as I passed on by, and then the reality of a 2 mile walk home at 2am in the morning kicked in.