Saturday, November 6, 2010

Blu-ray review: THE EXORCIST

Film: After years and years of waiting for The Exorcist to hit Blu-ray, it's FINALLY getting the treatment it deserves for fans.
Both the extended cut [also known as 'The Version You've Never Seen'] and the original 1973 cut are featured in this Blu-ray set. Fans have always de
bated over which version is better. Personally, even though the original cut of the film is brilliant, and does have a more darker ending [which i prefer], the extended features some nice added scenes and effects, most notably the epic spider walk scene which has become such a favourite among viewers over the years, it's hard to imagine such a bizarre and creepy scene not in the film, so i'll go with the extended cut as my personal favourite.

The film is presented in 1080p High Def, and it looks fantastic. You can see marks on faces that you haven't seen before, and the AMAZING sound design in the film will no doubt sound great with a good pair of surround speakers [which i sadly don't have, tear].

Packing: It comes packaged in Warner's very nicely made [and popular] hard cover booklet Blu-ray style sets. The cover features a slight foil finish, so the front image is a bit metallic and shimmers all pretty. Each disc sits behind the front and back cover, with the middle section of the packaging consisting of a cool 38 page booklet featuring images and footnotes about the movie and the cast. There's also a separate letter from the director about the Blu-ray release.

Special Features:

Disc 1:

Extended Director's Cut [2000 Version]
There's a commentary by Director William Friedkin on this version that i haven't heard because it apparently covers all of what is found in the special features anyway. I'll give it a listen at some point though i'm sure. All features on this disc are in HD as well. The major features are....

- Raising Hell: Filming The Exorcist [30 min approx]
This is the first of 3 newly made documentaries about the filming of the film. There's lots of new behind the scenes footage in this. You'll get a lot of Linda on set and a good look into how a few of the effects were created. It's amazing to see how it was all done with NO computer effects.

- The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now [8 min approx]
A good short doco about the locations the movie was filmed in. There's some cool comparisons of Georgetown now and then which are fun to see. Did you know the beginning scene of the movie was actually filmed in Iraq!?........every weird looking person in that opening shot were just street people.

- Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist [10 min approx]
Both the director and writer of The Exorcist speak passionately about what they like and don't like between both versions. Interesting hearing their thoughts on it.

Disc 2:

Original Theatrical Cut [1973 Version]
As well as the features i talk about below, there's also 2 commentaries for this version, one by the Director and another by Producer/Screenwriter. There is a story board and concept art gallery, as well as a video introduction by William Friedkin and rough footage of the original ending. The film itself is featured in HD, but the special features aren't on this disc.

- The Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist [78 min approx]
A pretty cool feature length doco that first aired back when The Exorcist was re-released to cinemas in 2000. It's more distinctive than the other features on disc 1, and even though there is a guy hosting it, he isn't annoying and we don't see a lot of him. Less backstage footage than disc 1, but more cast stories and interviews.

- Interview Gallery: The Original Cut, The Final Reckoning and Stairway To Heaven [9 min approx]
A bit of this is featured in The Fear of God, this is more of it. Mostly for die-hard fans who want to hear some more personal thoughts from the Director and Writer. I liked it.

Overall: As a complete package, it's a very nicely put together, and the fancy book casing adds that little extra something to make it more special. It's great to finally have a worthy release for the film, it took fucking long enough.

Film: 5/5
Special features: 4/5
Blu-ray overall: 5/5

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