Audiences React to The Exorcist

Pretty much every genre of film is different today than it was decades ago. But the two genres that seem to suffer the most from feeling dated are horror and comedy. There are plenty of things that aren’t as scary or as funny as they were to audiences during what was then the present day. The same thing will happen with films released today as time goes on.

But thanks to the magic of video and the internet, we can take a peek through time and see what scared audiences over 40 years ago. It was the year 1973, and The Exorcist was one of the most controversial horror movies ever made. People were scared out of their minds when this movie hit theaters, passing out during screenings, leaving early because they were unable to endure the horror. And if you want to know what this phenomenon was like, a cool video has surfaced showing how people were affected by this movie. Watch audiences react to The Exorcist after the jump!

The AV Club dug up this news broadcast footage from 1973 featuring interviews with movie goers who had just seen The Exorcist. This movie was so scary that theater owners had smelling salt on hand to wake up those who passed out during the movie. Those who were asked about the film afterwards even have trouble talking about why it’s so scary without feeling the fear that they felt in theaters. And these are just the brave souls who stayed through the whole movie, while there were plenty who just walked out.

It’s crazy to think that it was The Exorcist that caused this much uproar. While the film is a certified horror classic, audiences used to today’s traditional terror wouldn’t even bat an eye at what’s on display in The Exorcist. But it was one of the first movies of its kind, dealing with possession and exorcism before it became derivative and cliche. People had never seen anything like it.

If you want to see more of the cultural impact that The Exorcist had on viewers and the horror genre, check out this extended, vintage look back at how the film was perceived and covered by the news, complete with interviews with director William Friedkin and author William Peter Blatty:

There’s been several times that my mother has recalled what it was like to see The Exorcist in theaters, and she was pretty young to be seeing a movie like that at the time. She maintains that it was one of the scariest movies she’s ever seen in a theater, and it’s cool to get an idea of what it was like to be part of this horror milestone when it was released.

Have you see The Exorcist? Did you find it scary? What’s the scariest movie you’ve seen in theaters?

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