Get local news delivered straight to your phone

We can't make City Paper without you

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Captain Howdy is such a fun name for a demon. I suppose “fun” isn’t exactly the word that people who saw The Exorcist in 1973 used to describe the “Scariest Movie of All Time,” but the audience attending a screening of the film’s rerelease (“A Version You’ve Never Seen”) seemed more amused by its camp value than frightened. Everyone knows the story: Satan moves to Georgetown and temporarily takes up residence in the MacNeil family attic, first making his presence known through fantastic roars that Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) imagines must be coming from some very vocally talented rats. He then settles into Chris’ daughter, Regan (Linda Blair). The girl starts behaving strangely—cursing, acting defiant—but instead of blaming it on normal prepubescent pissiness, her doctor pushes Ritalin (a visionary!) and suggests that psychotherapy might be in order if things get worse. And then they do, of course—to the tune of dancing furniture, swiveled heads, and, ah yes, spider-walking. Probably the most anticipated of the film’s extra footage (unless there’s someone out there who really, really wanted to see a bunch of doctors fumbling for an answer the audience already knows), Regan’s spider-walk down the stairs isn’t worth the hype (especially if you’ve already seen it on the extended trailer). Creepy for an instant, it’s over before you can say “double-jointed.” Fan sites on the Web describe the scene as ending with Regan chasing Mom in that crazy crablike way, but that part is either just a rumor or stayed on the cutting-room floor. Regardless, the spare footage that was added just looks tacked on. Also added was a feel-good final scene, which writer William Peter Blatty thought was necessary to assure the audience that all is right with the world again. But after hearing moviegoers laugh whenever the once-angelic Regan hisses stuff like “Your mother sucks cocks in hell,” I don’t think Blatty has to worry about whether contemporary audiences will leave in a good mood. —Tricia Olszewski