Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Exorcist Blu-ray Review

Disc 1 Size (Directors’ Cut): 41.2 GB
Disc 2 Size (Theatrical): 31.8 GB
Film Ratings: R
Release Date: October 5th, 2010
Region: ABC
The Video
Warner Home Video releases ‘The Exorcist’ for the very first time on Blu-ray with two 1080p VC-1 video presentations. Both the theatrical and Director’s cut versions of the film are included on their own disc which is a very welcomed decision.

‘The Exorcist’ is a film which we have all seen reported and rumored for Blu-ray release for quite some time, a couple of years actually. I do have to say I was a little worried when rumors were swirling of a release last year, particularly after Friedkin’s approved release for ‘The French Connection.’ It featured a new color timed presentation which was not approved by Cinematographer Owen Roizman.

The Blu-ray release for ‘The French Connection’ caused plenty of debate and disagreement between fans of the film, as well as the director and cinematographer of the film. Despite the obvious differences of Director William Friedkin and Cinematographer Owen Roizman, they have come together for the Blu-ray release of The Exorcist, which thankfully does not feature the same issues.

Included in the Blu-ray release of ‘The Exorcist’ is a note from Director William Friedkin who says, “My gratitude to Warner Home Video for presenting this high-definition Blu-ray, which was color-timed by the cinematographer Owen Roizman and myself and represents the very best print ever made of The Exorcist.”

Very best print indeed! I have always been a big fan of ‘The Exorcist’ and I can happily report that the upgrade on this Blu-ray release is incredible. The presentations are true to the source and filled with grain (as they should be).

Both video presentations feature heavy grain which will certainly upset grain haters, but they are just missing out. The Blu-ray release features a notable upgrade in both clarity and detail, although there are soft scenes throughout which will always look soft.

The film actually looks like a film and thankfully DNR or edge enhancement is not present on this release. The look of the presentation may not appeal to everyone, but there is no denying that The Exorcist has never looked better, everything is improved and often impresses. 9/10.

The Audio
An English 6.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for the Director’s cut on disc one. Also included are French (Quebec), French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castellano), Spanish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Polish and Russian audio options are also included. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castellano), Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Polish, Turkish, Arabic, Croatian, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Greek, Icelandic, Estonian, Finnish and Swedish.

An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for the theatrical version on disc two. French, German, Italian, Spanish (Castellano), Spanish and Portuguese audio options are also included. Optional subtitles include English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Spanish (Castellano), Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish and Swedish.

As you can see there are an incredible amount of audio options and subtitle options included on this release. The audio tracks I watched were of course the English DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. Considering the film’s age I found myself very pleased by the audio tracks included.
No, the audio mixes aren’t surround sound experiences, nor should they be expected to be.

Dialogue is significantly front heavy, but the quality of everything is generally very good. There are times where dialogue did crack a little, but I actually expected it to happen more than actually did.

The film’s audio effects are quite front heavy as well, but the quality didn’t feature any notable issues worth mentioning. The film’s music manages to make the most use of the surround speakers to create an immersive surround experience, notable during the scarier scenes while watching the Director’s cut.

The audio isn’t perfect on either mix, but really it would be bizarre to expect it to be. I do believe the issues can be traced back the source material used and not the Blu-ray mixes. The audio won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but this is definitely the best the film has ever sounded and I am very happy with the audio experiences. The Director’s cut does sound more aggressive, but the theatrical cut audio is just fine as well. 8/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc):

Audio Commentary
By William Friedkin.

Raising Hell: Filming the Exorcist (30:04) (HD)
This is a newly produced retrospect which covers all levels of production, including brand new interviews with the crew as they look back on ‘The Exorcist.’ This is fantastic, I am very happy Warner Bros. has included new features.

The Exorcist Locations: Georgetown Then and Now (8:30) (HD)
This is a newly produced feature which revisits the filming locations used for ‘The Exorcist.’ William Friedkin also is interviewed throughout the feature, very cool.

Faces of Evil: The Different Versions of The Exorcist (9:53) (HD)
This feature is all about the different releases of The Exorcist from the past, newly produced and includes mention of the Blu-ray release as well.

Theatrical Trailers (3:39) (SD)
The Version You’ve Never Seen
Our Deepest Fears

TV Spots (1:22) (SD)
Most Electrifying
Scariest Ever

Radio Spots (1:39) (Audio)
The Devil Himself
Our Deepest Fears

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc):

Introduction by William Friedkin (2:16) (SD)
This introduction also plays prior to the film starting; it is a welcome addition and will likely excite new viewers.

Audio Commentary
By William Friedkin.

Audio Commentary
By William Peter Blatty with Sound Effects Tests

Sketches & Storyboards (2:45) (Images)
See original sketches & storyboards created during pre-production.

Interview Gallery with William Friedkin & William Petter Blatty (9:02) (SD)
The Original Cut
Stairway to Heaven
The Final Reckoning

Original Ending (1:42) (SD)
The film’s original ending is included, although personally I don’t care for it.

The Fear of God (1:17:10) (SD)
This is a lengthy but extremely entertaining feature regarding the idea for ‘The Exorcist’ as well as discussion on casting choices. This isn’t a new look back, but it still is very informative.

Theatrical Trailers (3:54) (SD)
Nobody Expected It
Beyond Comprehension
Flash Image

TV Spots (3:10) (SD)
Beyond Comprehension
You Too Can See The Exorcist
Between Science & Superstition
The Movie You’ve Been Waiting For

The Exorcist is packaged as a very attractive looking digibook. The digibook includes forty high-res color pages with information and pictures from The Exorcist. The two discs are housed via appropriate and sturdy disc holders. The Exorcist definitely called for special packaging and while it isn’t an ultimate collector’s edition release like we have seen for other films, the digibook is very nice.

The extras included on this release are fantastic; fans of the film will definitely want to watch them all. The newly created features are terrific and definitely appreciated, adding even more value to this superb Blu-ray release. The digibook packaging is nice and allows the movie to standout on your movie shelf. I do think more features could have been included, but I am more than satisfied by the extras on this release. 8/10.

The Movie
There are countless horror films which I have come to love throughout the years, but very few become so defining of the horror genre like The Exorcist has become. The film which is often crowned ‘the scariest film of all time’ is finally on Blu-ray for both old and new audiences to experience.

The film is directed by William Friedkin and is based on the bestselling novel by William Peter Blatty. There are plenty of impressive performances in the film, but it is a young Linda Blair who plays Regan which stands out.

Linda Blair already had a slightly creepy face (which does look quite similar to that of singer Justin Bieber). While special effects and makeup certainly added plenty to her performance, she makes it extra chilling and especially haunting.

I have to admit, writing my review and going through the extras I kept getting cold shivers simply from images or video of her character. Even days after watching the film, I still find myself thinking about the film and story.

Revisiting the film was fantastic. Some of the scenes aren’t as scary anymore as can be remembered, but what I love about The Exorcist is the effect it leaves on you AFTER you finish the film. The film makes you question and perhaps a little paranoid for a while.

The Exorcist is not only an amazing horror film; it is an amazing film in general. The story flows perfectly for me, which is why I have always preferred the theatrical version of the film. I do enjoy the director’s cut as well, but I do think it just adds more runtime than it benefits the story.

Horror films come and go, loved but forgotten over time. The Exorcist manages to stand out however. The film always manages to come up in horror film discussions and most I have discussed the film with tend to talk about the effect the film had on them, lasting way past the credits.

The Exorcist is classic and will never be forgotten. I actually expected the film to be much cheesier, as seen with many horror catalog titles. While I did find some scenes a bit funnier (I love when she spits and swears while being treated), the scarier moments still manage to haunt and leave an effect like most films cannot.

Whether you have never seen the film or it has been a while since seeing it last, now is the perfect time to revisit the iconic film. The Exorcist is genre-defining and cannot be missed, particularly by those who consider themselves fans of horror films. You can’t call yourself a fan of horror films until you have seen The Exorcist. 10/10.

The Blu-news Summary
The Exorcist is a chilling and iconic horror film with a terrific Blu-ray release. The video and audio presentations are great, the bonus features also manage to impress. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘A Must Own’ for fans and ‘Highly Recommended’ to those new to the film.

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