My lifelong fear of the film “The Exorcist”
I love scary movies; I always have. I tend to think it’s in my blood to be a horror movie fan; that it was simply just meant to be.
I grew up in the shadow of Universal Studios, where not only did my mom work as a screenwriter but is also the home of the original, old school movie monsters. Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy – they all originated from the grounds of the Universal backlot. I spent a great deal of my childhood on those grounds. It feels like home to me.
Now while I do love horror and I REALLY love a good scare, Universal Halloween Horror Nights is a yearly tradition and I’m always the “brave” one that everyone hides behind. But there’s one thing that truly terrifies me, a film I refuse to ever watch again, and that is The Exorcist. I must admit when I heard it reviewed on the podcast, I was shocked that they didn’t find it very scary – what?!?!? Did they watch the same movie I did?
Now to be fair, I do have a very different perspective. I first saw it when I was just twelve years old, so I was young. I did watch it on tv, so it was very edited (thank God because I don’t think my twelve-year-old self could have handled an unedited version!) and I remember not being that bothered by it while I was watching it, but when I went to bed that night that I became gripped with fear. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw that terrifying face and I couldn’t get the sound of her voice out of my head. I was so scared that not only could I not sleep but I made myself physically ill. I was deeply and profoundly disturbed by it on a whole other level.
My sister, who is thirteen years older than me, got a lot of mileage out of my fear and would seek any opportunity to give me a hard time about it. If it was on TV she would try and trick me into catching a glimpse of it, or she would talk in the demon voice to unnerve me. She did this all through my teen years, constantly torturing me over this film because she knew it really got to me. My friends would do the same, everyone has always had a lot of fun at my expense because of my intense fear. Nice, huh?
When I turned eighteen, I decided enough was enough: I was going to face my fear and give it another go. I watched it all alone, lights out, and guess what? I was fine, and I thought I’d finally overcome the fear that had gripped me for the past six years. But I was wrong.
A few years later, some friends wanted to watch it. I watched along with them, and my phobia came right back. I could barely watch it, or even listen to it, and it’s been that way ever since. To this day, I will avoid anything having to do with it at all costs – pictures, sounds, anything, if it makes its way into my psyche it will give me horrible nightmares for days.
The funny part of all of this is that I worked on a film with Linda Blair many years ago and spent a whole day with her. We were instructed not to bring up The Exorcist so I didn’t (even though I badly wanted to tell her how scarred for life I am from it), but it was great fun to hang out with her. She’s so lovely and one of the kindest people you will ever meet, she probably would have gotten a kick out of my story.
I still find The Exorcist to be the scariest movie ever made, at least to me, but I do understand how these days people don’t find it very scary. I think seeing it at a such a young, impressionable age has a lot to do with how I view it, and probably why I find movies with demonic tones beyond unsettling.
After all, you can try to outrun or fight a Michael Myers, or a Jason Voorhees, but the Devil? Hard pass, I don’t want to take him on in any way, shape, or form!