One of the best--and most terrifying--films of the year is the long-awaited release of the sensational bestseller, based on the actual case of a youth controlled by demonical forces (a 14-year-old boy in Maryland in 1949, now happily married and the father of three). William Peter Blatty's screenplay adapted his own novel and uses the 12-year-old daughter of a film star as the one possessed. With the combined talents of makeup artist Dick Smith, special effects director Marcel Vercoutere and the athletic young Linda Blair, the result is a film of such horrifying power that audiences are apt to be visibly shaken. The production, which seemed to be possessed of its own demons, suffered many costly delays. Under the direction of the highly versatile William Friedkin (Oscar winner for his last film, "The French Connection"), the Warners release is close to being a masterpiece. The acting is superb: Ellen Burstyn in the role written for Shirley MacLaine; Max von Sydow as the exorcist; actor-playwright Jason Miller; veterans Lee J. Rudolf Schundler; and Linda Blair, among others.
From any angle one of the biggest potential grossers of '74, "The Exorcist" has a wealth of material dealing with demons and exorcism as recounted in the best-selling Harper & Row novel and in Warners publicity.
Since Man First Believed in Demons, He Has Also Believed That These Malignant Forces Can Take Possession of Him.