There is no one-size-fits-all answer for why people enjoy watching horror movies, and some don’t. Hate it or love it, the genre has become a regular feature in the entertainment industry.
One movie from the past that possessed all the scary and gory ingredients needed to cook up a good cocktail of horror was “The Exorcist.” Its release in 1973 saw the paranormal flick transcend the usual trend of fright films with its surreal pictures and special effects.
The combo alongside star actress Linda Blair‘s performance sent unceasing shivers into the body of the viewers. To date, its bedeviled scenes serve as a blissful pastime for horror movie fanatics.
Although the movie is still relevant today, some of the reactions from the film’s initial audience seemed downright unexpected. Puzzlingly, a couple of them were so displeased that they stalked and haunted Blair.
Here’s a look at her recollection of that awful period.
In “The Exorcist,” Blair portrayed 12-year-old Regan MacNeil, who got bewitched by a mysterious being. Her performance in the role garnered her both fame and death threats alike. At that point, she was more concerned with ensuring her safety than basking in the light of stardom.
Back in 2018, the horror star chatted with studio 10, where she reflected on her loss of privacy after the movie’s release.
“You’re pursued. They’re in the bushes. They’re chasing you down the street,” she recalled. “You don’t have any privacy. You don’t know who you are.”
She added that her only respite through that tough time was her mother’s love and support. “My mother was amazing,” she noted.
Like a champ, Blair took the negative responses as added fuel to her burgeoning career. She quickly finished her high school education and took up more movie roles, such as the meta slasher “Scream.”
Reasons For The Fanatical Outburst By Some Viewers
Back then, the movie’s content was directly contrasted to the religious theme prevalent in the 90s. Sure, most viewers loved it and watched it more than once; others bashed the film for having horrific and vulgar scenes that seemed to encourage sexual perversion and devil worship.
Some decided to vent their pent-up anger on Blair, who was the center of the film. She described their reactions as disheartening, considering their disregard for her wellbeing and sanity.
“It was so controversial, so of course, I am at the very pinnacle of that. So, it all became my fault,” the “Scream” star told OWN in 2016. “Headlines sell papers, whether positive or negative. And in this case, it was very difficult on a 15-year-old girl.”
In the end, the movie earned Blair a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.
‘The Exorcist’ Legacy
Regardless of the mixed reviews the movie received, most critics classified the flick as truly scary. “This is the scariest film I’ve seen in years – the only scary film I’ve seen in years,” Stanley Kauffmann critiqued at that time.
“If you want to be shaken – and I found out, while the picture was going, that that’s what I wanted – then The Exorcist will scare the hell out of you.” Another reviewer Joe Dante called it “an amazing film, and one destined to become at the very least a horror classic.”
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Fast forward four decades to this century, Dante’s review seems intertwined with some mystic power of foresight. The movie has spawned into multiple spinoffs, a television series, and other media versions etching its place as a cult classic.
In December 2020, studio execs announced that a direct sequel was in the works and David Gordon Green would direct. The film’s debut is on October 13, 2023.
Blair’s Career After ‘The Exorcist’
Still, in her interview with OWN, the horror star expressed fond memories for the movie that brought her into the limelight.
She also disclosed her shock at its timeless relevance, “No one ever expected it to have the longevity that it has had throughout the years. And I’m very proud of it.”
After “The Exorcist,” she starred in numerous television films soaring on the wings of her newfound fame. Some of the features include “Born Innocent” (1974), “Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic” (1975), and “Stranger in Our House” (1978).
Despite acting in other genres, Blair mostly stayed true to her first love. The bulk of her acting career concentrated on horror and scary slashers. Currently, she is set to star as Detective Karen Atwood in a new crime fantasy, “Landfill.”