One of Hollywood’s scariest movies of all time is getting a make-over and horror producer Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions, along with director David Gordon Green, are hoping to do with The Exorcist as they did with their recent remake and revitalization of the Halloween franchise.
With Blum and Green’s Halloween remake, they decided to ignore the various remakes and reboots of Halloween’s past and jump right into what made Halloween, well, Halloween. That being Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode and her battle with Michael Myers. The movie was a critical success, rightfully so, as well as a box office one as well. The hope is to catch lightning in a bottle with their take on The Exorcist.
“[It’s] going to be like David’s Halloween sequel,” Blum says to Den of Geek. “I think it’s going to pleasantly surprise all the skeptics out there. We had a lot of skeptics about Halloween and David turned them around, and I think he’s going to turn it around with The Exorcist.”
Remakes and reboots are almost always met with derision. Many fans rail that Hollywood has run out of ideas, so recycling classics is what they have to fall back onto. It’s been a non-ending point of contention that doesn’t look to end any time soon. But sometimes, rare as they may be, a reboot or remake can strike gold.
If you ask Blum, though, he doesn’t consider taking on what many feel like the greatest and scariest movie of all time as a daunting task. “I love to do [these] kinds of movies because people are very emotional about it,” he says. “I think it’s a high bar and it’s a challenge to do the movie. Remember, most of the audience coming to this—95 percent of the audience who will, if we do our job right, come to see this movie—will not have seen the first Exorcist or even heard of it.”
His point was proven with Green’s 2018 Halloween, which garnered the two upcoming follow-ups, Halloween Kills set to premiere on October 15, 2021, and Halloween Ends, scheduled to come out exactly one year later.
In 1973, director William Friedkin and author/screenwriter William Peter Blatty literally scared the bejesus out of audiences when they had the demon Pazuzu possess 12-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) to levels of horror never seen before on film.
William Peter Blatty first wrote the best-selling novel of the possessed young girl, then turned his best-seller into what is routinely considered, especially from a certain generation, the scariest movie of all time. The story followed Lankester Merrin (Max Von Sydow), an aging Catholic Priest who, on an archeological dig in the ancient city of Hatra, comes across a sculpture of the terrifying demon, Pazuzu.
The story then turns to Regan, her mother Chris (Ellen Burstyn), and a younger priest, Father Damian Karras (Jason Miller), who has been struggling with his own faith. As Regan begins to show signs of possession, her mother and doctors feel Regan is experiencing psychological trauma. But after a series of tests, the doctors are unable to pinpoint any issue. Enter Father Karras.
What follows is something audiences of 1973 were unprepared for. The language and shocking level of violence, all religious-based, caused many to simply get up and walk out of the theater. Heart attacks were reported, physical sickness in movie theaters was reported. The Exorcist left an indelible mark on a generation of movie-goers.
While The Exorcist tore into moviegoers, what followed was quite underwhelming and, in fact, was lauded as one of the worst sequels in movie history. We are talking about, of course, The Exorcist II: The Heretic, which brought back Linda Blair as Regan and was more famous for the unintended laughs than any semblance of horror.
Filmmakers then brought out the respectable The Exorcist III, which was more of a detective piece than a horror movie. In the early 2000s, two movies were produced (actually it was one movie cut twice) called Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, both telling virtually the same story about a young Father Merrin. There was also a well-received, but short-lived TV series of The Exorcist.
Jason Blum knows his audience of today. He also knows that there will be many fans of the original who are not down with this idea. He hopes to bring in fans from both sides and he is fully confident that Green is the man to make it happen. “I want to make a movie that works for both [audiences],” Blum said to Den of Geek. “I want to make a movie for people that know and love the first Exorcist and are furious that we’re doing this, but somehow drag themselves to the theater. I want them to come out happy. And I want to make a movie that people who’ve never heard of The Exorcist really enjoy. I think David did that with Halloween. I think he’ll do that with The Exorcist also.”
There is no set timeframe as to when Blum, Green, and the still unannounced cast will start filming. Green, as expected, is still fully entrenched with his Halloween trilogy and it is unknown if The Exorcist will actually be his next project or not. The big question will be, as it is with all remakes and reboots and continuations – how do you top the original?