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The Exorcist
"Holy Fuck!"

The Exorcist

It's difficult - scrap that, it's shocking! - to think that The Exorcist is almost 45 years old now. William Friedkin's legendary horror flick broke new ground (at the time) in many areas, including innovative makeup effects by Dick Smith (anyone who loves horror movies and special makeup effects will know this name). As a life-long fan of this film, I still think it has the power to shock thanks to its efforts to destroy innocence in a harshly vérité manner. The Exorcist has spawned a plethora of duplicate flicks over the years, almost all of which fall short of the milestone achieved by the original, and few (if any) demonic possession films confront the audience with such punishing scenes of taboo-busting horror in quite the same way. It's not easy putting the raw power of The Exorcist into context these days as we've seen so many films depicting possessed demonic girls puking their guts over people, bleeding from their self-inflicted wounds, swearing all kinds of filthy words and challenging religious concepts in almost pornographic ways. The ripples of The Exorcist have spread across the genre for decades and diluted the shock-value to some degree. But these images were new once, and they terrified the living hell out of a whole generation, and quite often they still do. If any film truly deserves its "classic" status, then The Exorcist is certainly the gold standard in this respect.

I've done two previous Exorcist shoots, both of which were just about the possession of the girl rather than the ritual exorcism. Both were shot in bedrooms. This, my third and most recent attempt, was the first time I did the shoot in my studio using a fake bed. My model, Shana, was familiar with the film and she was willing to face some potential controversy in order to re-enact the infamous scene where Regan inflicts sexual harm to herself with a crucifix. Obviously, the shots are totally implied and conducted much the same as they were in the film, but the symbolism in the image is so powerful that you don't need to see graphic depictions of female anatomy in order to feel uncomfortable.

Our post-9/11 world is a world in which religion has come under great scrutiny, the faithful are particularly sensitive and zealous about their beliefs, and atheism is on the rise (particularly in the USA where many atheists are "in the closet" about their lack of beliefs). Creating an image like this in the modern age is highly controversial and morally risky because it is weighted down with the emotional baggage of the modern era. People take such high offence at any perceived attacks on their moral philosophy and there is a degree of "entitlement" in the general population that they should be able to go through life without ever being offended. So, the audacity for some guy in Kent to ask a young lady to perform lewd acts with a religious icon is bound to cause some flak outside of the horror fan-base, even though the motivation for creating the images was very much to pay homage to a classic horror film that I have loved and admired for my entire life.

I must mention the vomit. Thick, green, slightly smelly pea soup with a few added ingredients had to be poured into Shana's mouth so that she could launch the projectile glop for the camera. Demonic puke has become a fun feature of the shoots I do these days (I've had quite a few models throwing up all over my floor, ranging from thick green Satanic sick to bright red lumpy stomach blood). It always creates a hell of a clean-up job for me at the end. But it's worth it!

The Exorcist The Exorcist The Exorcist

Thanks for reading folks. Keep loving horror :)

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