The Exorcist Blu-ray review

Does this horror classic stand the test of time in hi-def? Keep the faith...

The Exorcist is a film that surely needs no introduction. One of the most celebrated horror films of all-time, this tale of a young girl possessed by demonic forces still has the power to unsettle and shock audiences despite the number of times it has been referenced, parodied and ripped-off by other movies across the better part of three decades.

Picture: The two cuts of The Exorcist arrive on Blu-ray with a pair of somewhat inconsistent VC-1 1.85:1 1080p encodes. Some shots, such as the early scenes in Iraq look spectacular – exactly what we’ve come to expect from Warner’s restorations of its back catalogue big hitters – while others looks surprisingly soft and excessively grainy. However, I have a feeling that much of this is down to the issues with the source material regarding filming conditions and optical effects, as such I can’t really imagine it looking much better than it does here. Perhaps the most crucial thing of all though is that, despite fears to the contrary, Friedkin has resisted the temptation to do a French Connection and completely screw up the colour timing.
Picture rating: 4/5

Audio: Neither version of The Exorcist is going to push your speaker setup to its limits with their DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mixes. Despite the surround sound remixes, the film (in both incarnations) remains a predominantly front-heavy affair with a good stereo spread, but little use made of the rears beyond ambient effects (such as the French dresser moving across the room towards Regan’s mother in Chapter 29, with the audio expanding from the front to the rear of the sound stage in a complimentary manner). Where the mixes do score highly is with the beautifully textured nature of the dialogue, music and Foley effects, which even leads Friedkin to claim ‘I’ve heard little details in the soundtrack of the Blu-ray that I’d never heard, that I didn’t even know were in the track’ in one of the new extras.
Audio rating: 3/5

Extras: This two-disc set serves up a fantastic platter of content for fans of this horror classic. The first disc contains the 122min Theatrical Version of the film alongside two commentary tracks, a reel of sketches and storyboard art, three short interviews with William Friedkin and William Peter Blatty, the original ending, three trailers, four TV spots and the full-length 77min cut of the excellent Fear of God documentary (which had previously been hacked down to 53mins for all UK DVD releases).

Alongside the 132min Extended Director’s Cut on Disc Two you’ll find another commentary by the director (albeit a truly awful one where he basically just describes what’s happening on screen like an Audio Descriptive service), two trailers, three TV spots and three radio spots, plus three new featurettes. Presented in hi-def these take the form of a look at the different cuts of the movie and material that is still missing from them, a tour of the Georgetown locations and a fantastic 30min retrospective Making of… packed with fascinating archival on-set footage, make-up tests and new interviews.
Extras rating: 4/5

We say: The power of Christ compels you to add this impressive Blu-ray release to your collection

Warner Home Video, All-region BD, £20 approx, On sale October 11