"Your mother sucks cocks in Hell, Karras, you faithless slime."
This is really the story of two people, a single mother and a Father. The Father is a priest having problems with his mom. The single mother is having problems with her daughter.
Chris MacNeil is an actress and single mother of at least one daughter, Regan. I don't know who the hell Shannon is, is she another daughter or one of the help? They are staying in a house in Georgetown while Chris films a movie. Regan finds a ouija board and this is how she meets Captain Howdy, which I assume is the gateway for the demon to enter her body.
Father Karras's mother died so now he feels guilty. He's not your typical priest. He smokes, drinks, boxes... Matter of fact, there was a lot of smoking in this movie, especially during the hospital scenes. Father Karras, Damien, is losing his faith (I've now watched this movie three times and this the first time I noticed his name was Damien).
Chris's daughter is going through inexplicable changes so she takes her to the doctor for an evaluation. Initially, they diagnose her with "disorder of nerves", which is basically 70's ADHD, and prescribe her Ritalin. Nothing helped, so the doctors kept coming up with more and more bullshit excuses instead of just admitting they didn't know, until finally suggesting an exorcist.
This is the only part of the movie that didn't make sense: Burke, the director of the film Chris was starring in, was found dead after leaving the party Chris had thrown. His head was twisted completely backwards, which was not consistent with a fall. It is later assumed that Regan did it, but how could she? Everyone watched Burke's drunk ass leave and he had a driver outside waiting for him. Granted, Regan's window was left open, but that would mean Burke would have had to sneak back in after saying goodbye while everyone was singing songs. You'd think at least one of the party guests would have seen his body at the bottom of the stairs when they left.
The exorcism scenes were awesome, especially considering that this was 1973 special effects. The only problem I had was that Scary Movie 2 did such a good job in the opening spoof that I can't get it out of my head when I watch this.
The Bad Ass Award goes to Damien for putting his life before little Regan's even though it cost him his own as his body went down the same flight of stairs as Burke's, only this time everybody immediately found Damien. So immediate, that Father Dyer was there in time, or damn close, to repent his sins. Nothing restores your faith in God like exorcising a demon.
I was left with a couple questions: Did evil win? Was it always Fall in the 70's? One thing I like about 70's horror films is that they have nothing to prove. They don't have to prove they're a horror movie, you know that going in, so they instead tell a story that starts in the victims point of view. Newer movies seem to want to outdo the last generation, especially sequels and remakes. Older horror movies start you off in an everyday situation then builds its way up. You used to know more about the victims than the villains. Some movies still stick to the old model, but generally if the villain shows up too soon, the characters die before you get a chance to attach to them. In Scream it worked because Scream was a deconstruction/homage.
This film must have been shocking as hell when it first hit the theaters because for one, the acting was great, but the shit coming out of this little girl's mouth... Ta think, four years after Jim Morrison was getting arrested for lewd behavior onstage people paid money to see a foul-mouthed 12 year old girl ram a crucifix up her bloody pussy!
What did we learn? Survival Tips:
1) Don't play with ouija boards.
2) If your daughter does a reverse spider walk down the stairs, it may be time for more than just a psychiatrist.
3) Don't get drunk and go up to a little girl's bedroom.