I’ve got a case of good new/bad news for horror fans. The good news is that William Friedkin’s classic frightfest ‘The Exorcist’ is coming to Blu-ray in October, and will also have a special theatrical event in late September. The bad news? The theatrical screening will only be the recut extended version that nobody likes. There’s also a very strong chance that Friedkin will dick around with the movie’s colors the same way that he desecrated ‘The French Connection’ recently.
Forgotten what I’m talking about already, have you? Last year, Fox released ‘The French Connection’ on Blu-ray with a new video transfer personally supervised by William Friedkin. Unfortunately, Friedkin, who lost his marbles sometime in the mid-’80s and apparently no longer knows anything at all about motion picture photography or home video, decided to completely revise the movie’s color scheme. What he did is strip out all the colors – turning it into a black & white movie – and then digitally colorized it again with really garish hues. The entire picture is now tinted purple. It looks absolutely hideous.
Of course, Friedkin claimed that this was what he always wanted the movie to look like. To which the film’s cinematographer Owen Roizman called him out as a liar. A war of words between the two ensued.
Why is this relevant here? In interviews to promote that Blu-ray, Friedkin declared how enthusiastic he was to do the same to all his movies, and even said that ‘The Exorcist’ was in the works.
Now, that was more than a year ago, and there was a considerable backlash against that ‘French Connection’ Blu-ray. The later Blu-ray edition of ‘To Live and Die in L.A.‘ (also approved by Friedkin) looks perfectly fine. So it’s possible that the director eventually came to his senses. We won’t know for sure until the ‘Exorcist’ Blu-ray is released on October 5th.
That is, unless we attend the one-night-only theatrical screening on September 30th being held by Fathom Events. Tickets go on sale to the general public on August 27th. This should give an advanced peek at whether or how much Friedkin has messed up the movie.
On the one hand, it might be kind of cool to see ‘The Exorcist’ on the big screen. I never have. (I skipped its re-released in 2000.) Sadly, even if Friedkin decided to leave well enough alone this time and not ruin all the colors, the Fathom screening will be only the so-called “Extended Director’s Cut,” previously known as ‘The Version You’ve Never Seen’. Or, as I like to call it, ‘The Version You Never Wanted to See Because It Sucks’. You know, it’s the one where the director pulled a George Lucas and edited a bunch of useless deleted scenes (including an absolutely terrible alternate ending) into the movie and threw in some stupid-looking CGI effects.
I don’t know of anyone who likes the extended version as much as the original 1973 theatrical cut. Even Friedkin himself used to admit that the original cut was better. He only made the extended version at the behest of the studio and of author William Peter Blatty. But, as I mentioned earlier, Friedkin has lost his marbles. Recently, he’s been claiming that he’s “come around” and now prefers the longer version (which is why it can now be called a “director’s cut”).
Thankfully, the Blu-ray will offer both versions. I have my fingers crossed that (at the very least) the theatrical cut will have a reasonable color scheme as well. I couldn’t care less what Friedkin does to “The Version I Don’t Ever Want to See Again.” So I’ll be skipping that theatrical event.