Upon release in 1971, William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist became a literary phenomenon. Not unlike that of another recent bestseller, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, it was within a few years adapted for the big screen by a major studio by one of the leading contemporary filmmakers. Unlike Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, though nominated, did not. Even still, the legacy of this 1973 masterpiece leaves a long, lasting shadow over the entire horror genre. The Exorcist is one of those unique films in which everyone has a reaction to it, be it positive or negative. I’ve had people scoff and try to convince me that they find it funny, but personally I think that’s a nervous reaction. I find the film to be deeply disturbing, so much so that it’s among a select group of films that scare me so much I can only watch every year-and-a-half to two years (others off the top of my head include Audition, Suspiria and Rosemary’s Baby). Like many of the other great films which have ended up my Hall Of Fame, part of the reason for its effectiveness is that it something whose final sum is greater than all of the composite elements. It’s got great performances from Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller, Max von Sydow and Linda Blair, all of whom generate empathy with their characters, is a film of technical wizardry, makes excellent use of sound design and has a great duo in the uncompromising Friedkin as director and Blatty as screenwriter adapting his own novel. Upon release in 1973, The Exorcist had people throwing themselves into the aisles in horror. In 2016, it’s still one of the most frightening things I’ve seen.