The Exorcist, 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty

For those of you who read my earlier post about the 40th Anniversary version of the 1971 novel The Exorcist, you have probably guessed by now that I crumbled like a cookie and bought the book.  Yes, I caved but it should be mentioned that I did at least wait until it came out on Kindle, so that’s something I suppose.

If you didn’t read my earlier post, a few months ago I was in a bit of a tizzy over the fact that I could not get the original Exorcist book on Kindle, but the 40th Anniversary Edition was available for pre-order and I’m no fan of pre-ordering anything.  So, I bitched and moaned about it, but in the end, once the damn thing was available I paid $9.99 for a book that I had seen the “based on the book” movie of at least 25 times and the directors cut at least 5 (seriously, after so many viewings I lose track of exact numbers).

First, if you have seen the director’s cut of the Exorcist movie, you have pretty much read the 40th Anniversary Edition book with a few (at least one notable) changes.  There is the addition of a new character, who in this readers opinion was a positive change.  It’s not that the story depended on this new character in any real way (because it didn’t), but it’s still an interesting and atmospheric change that definitely adds to the creepy factor, which is a good thing.

One change that really stood out for me, was the Regan crab-walk scene, not seen in the original but is definitely a standout in the director’s cut.  In the director’s cut, Regan crab-walks upside down/backwards down a flight of stairs.  Honestly, it’s one of the freakiest moments in movie history — ever.  The idea it could possibly be even more disturbing truly seemed impossible to me, until I read the 40th Anniversary Edition.  Now, based on the fact that this scene was in the movie I can only assume it was also in the original book (which I didn’t read).  However, either way the scene in the movie — as awesome as it is — pales in comparison to the scene in the book.

The biggest difference for me, however, was Regan’s mother, Chris MacNeil .  In the movie, although you could probably argue casting, her character was just not very sympathetic to me.  I was clearly aghast at what was happening around her, but she came off as snarky and well, sort of a self-involved bitch.  Her character in the book is much more of a real person and therefore, more relatable.  So, the film portrayal notwithstanding, I actually gave a damn about her.

Anyway, if you are one of the myriad of people who has seen the movie but has never taken the time to read the book, now is your chance and I recommend you seize it.  You really do find not only some gems of details you simply can’t get out of a movie, but you also get the benefit of a newfound appreciation for one of the greatest horror stories ever told.  Mr. Blatty may disagree with my overall opinion of the differences and that’s okay.  Regardless, I still must say thank you Mr. Blatty, thank you very, very much for keeping me awake too many nights to count.