I described to you in an earlier post of "What Scared Me" my experience with going to the premiere of THE EXORCIST. Needless to say, it was a night I'll probably never forget. The hype was incredible outside while waiting in a line that snaked around the block in Westwood Village, CA, and the payoff payed off in a big -- and scary -- way.
The Newsweek website has resurrected a video that has gone viral that shows audience reactions on the night of December 26, 1973. Read on if you dare, and watch the video at the end of this post.
Old Footage of People Walking Out of the Theater on 'The Exorcist's' Opening Night Goes Viral
Nearly half a century after "The Exorcist" was released, Redditors are reflecting on their own experiences with William Friedkin's 1973 horror classic.
By Caroline Tien | June 14, 2021 | newsweek.com
In a now-viral post on the social media platform, user @FunPeach0 shared old footage of audience reactions to the premiere. The footage has many commenters reminiscing about the first time they watched what has often been called "the scariest movie ever made."
Uploaded to YouTube on March 23, 2014, the footage purports to provide a "little glimpse" into the "mass hysteria" that greeted the film's opening night on Dec. 26, 1973. Hailing the film as "something almost beyond comprehension," theater marquees play up the singularly eerie nature of its supernatural elements.
The marketing tactic clearly worked. Long lines of people dressed in '70s-style bellbottoms wrapped around the sidewalks abutting various venues for hundreds of feet. "I'm not going back in there," one moviegoer tells her friend, a frightened grin on her face. "I don't like it, I want to go home," another mutters, her back to the camera. "I just found it really horrible and had to come out, I couldn't take any more," a third says, a tremor in her voice. Those who faint, a young theater employee reports matter-of-factly, are revived with smelling salts.
Melodramatic as they might seem by today's standards, Redditors who claimed to be alive at the time confirmed that the reactions depicted were accurate.
"I watched this when I was 5 or 6 back in the 80s...messed me up for a long time," one wrote.
"I saw it in 1973 and it f***ed me up for a long time. No one had ever seen anything like it," another claimed.
"I saw The Exorcist in the theater in 1973, along with a lot of college friends. We all left the theater shaken," a third alleged.
Others, noting that contemporary kids often found the movie funny rather than terrifying, identified a generational divide in reactions. In many cases, the observation spawned discussions of how special-effects technology has improved and fears have evolved in the intervening 48 years.
"My kids saw it in the early 2000's. They thought it was funny," one commenter wrote.
"It strange how far we've come against the horror genre. My guess is, what would scare kids TODAY would be some sort of psychological issue or 'REAL' Like a shooting or natural disaster," another mused.
"It's really crazy to me how fast society changes, just one or two generations seperates [sic] people who were absolutely terrified of a movie and people who aren't scared at all. When I was a kid my mom was hesitant to let me watch it because she always remembered it as the movie that scared the holy hell out of her as a teenager. We watched it together and she was nervous the whole time but I was just like yeah so? I was more scared of Jurassic Park man, dinosaurs are real they can eat ya," a third recalled.
Critics consistently rank "The Exorcist" among the most terrifying movies in existence.
View the video below: