This set is a must for any fan's horror collection.
Sparse extras on some of the lesser known titles.
I can think of few releases that need to be in your DVD collection as much as The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology. If you already own these films separately there is a good chance that you don't need to by this, but if you don't... look no further because in one shot you get everything you could ever want for this franchise.
That is until they make the next Exorcist film, right?
In theory there are only 4 films in this set, yet that is a testament to the power of The Exorcist that two of them would be redone. The titles are as follows:
- The Exorcist
- The Exorcist - The Version You've Never Seen
- The Exorcist II: The Heretic
- The Exorcist III
- Exorcist: The Beginning
- Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
There is a creepiness that surrounds all these titles, and the packaging and cover artwork go out of their way to bring out every nuance of this. While the films seem to rotate various characters into and out of each film, the truth of the matter is that you could actually watch these movies as individual films and not feel like you were lost. It is often said that the best movie in this collection is the first one, and that is a point that I will have to agree with. The other movies are good but they are lacking the true sense of terror that seems to pervade every frame of the first Exorcist.
In fact, I go back and forth on which one I think is scarier (the original or the restored version), but I think that it's clear that that movie has something about it that transcends the ordinary viewing experience. The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology is a celebration of this franchise, and it opens up more discussion and more debates in the fact that it seems to play each movie off one another.
As this is a compilation of older movies repackaged together for this release, I didn't think it was necessary to go through each feature. What follows are my thoughts on the ones that stood out most to me.
The Fear of God
A feature length making of that I never knew existed until I got this set. This little extra is really worth the price of admission because seeing this movie get made is something else. William Friedkin has a reputation as a Hollywood bad boy, and although I am sure that the years have tempered that, there is a spirit to this man that will never die. He put so much of himself into this film and it really comes out both on the screen and in this supplemental feature. I feel lucky to have found this.
Introduction by William Friedkin
Commentary by William Peter Blatty
Interviews, Storyboards, Production Sketches and Original Ending
Certainly something worth checking out because it gives the film an added perspective. The effects, for the time, were revolutionary and they still look pretty darn awesome even by today's standards. Without giving anything away, I would say check out the original ending because that will strengthen the one that made it into the film. While I think they covered everything pretty well in The Fear of God documentary, the interviews offered here are certainly worth your time as well.
The Exorcist - The Version You've Never Seen
Commentary by William Friedkin
This was good but it's a bit of a downer considering I wanted to hear more about the production, and Friedkin spends a lot of time (too much actually) telling us what we are seeing on the screen. He is enjoyable to listen to and, as I still go out of my way to see his films, I didn't think that I wasted my time. I guess having heard him in a Q&A before, I just thought I would get more information as opposed to an actual commentary on the actions of the actors.
The Exorcist II: The Heretic
Alternate Opening Sequence
Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
As I have already reviewed these titles please click here and here to get my full opinion of them.
The Exorcist and The Exorcist - The Version You've Never Seen are in the widescreen version presented in a "matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of their original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. The Exorcist II: The Heretic, The Exorcist III and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist are presented in the "matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of their original theatrical exhibition. They are enhanced for widescreen TVs. Exorcist: The Beginning is presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. It's enhanced for widescreen TVs. These movies looked really well put together in this set. What I liked the most about it was the way I could examine the "evolution" of the film language from the 1970s up to the 2000s. This set really makes the case, I think, for simply presented horror movies.
Rather than get into all the audio specifics, I will simply say that these films are all presented in Dolby Digital. I was also struck by how intricate the sound work is on all these films. I also appreciate that the audio doesn't seem to have been changed to suit the times. They haven't reworked The Exorcist theme in such a way that it sounds any more current than it needs to. I also think that the audio in these movies helps them all play pretty uniformly. In fact, if you were ambitious enough to watch the last one first, one could almost screen these films as one large Exorcist experience.
A slip case houses this entire 6 disc set and manages to economically get all the discs into four slim cases. The front cover features the iconic image of Father Merrin as he stares up at Regan's window. They have glossed this up a tad but the effect doesn't obscure this image at all. The back cover gives out a succinct description of this set, and also shows us what the cover art is for the four slim cases that house all the discs. Overall, Warner Bros. could have gone overboard, but they kept things simple and thus made this set something very accessible to both new and old fans.
If I was a director of horror movies, I would study the films in The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology. In fact, I would probably study a lot of the horror films from the 1970s and 1980s, mainly because I think that the language of cinema in present day horror movies takes away many of the scares. Scary films are great when they take place in environments that are native to us. Set it in a dark, desolate castle, that's telling me that I'm supposed to be scared. Put it in the suburbs and suddenly I relate to it more viscerally. Also, I think the use of effects ends up taking us out of the movie because effects look like effects. How scared can I be when I know that something was manipulated in After Effects?
The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology is a succinct look at a movie the world is still captivated by. If you disagree, can you think of any other franchise (aside from Star Wars) that has been this reworked and retooled?
The Exorcist was released May 31, 1973.