Well, this is quite a double feature at the GE Theatre at Proctors tomorrow (Friday) night: Two of the most controversial movies of the early 1970s. In The Exorcist, American director William Friedkin imported a particularly nasty denizen from hell into the Washington, D.C., Georgetown neighborhood where it took up residence in a child. In The Devils, delirious English filmmaker Ken Russell reached back into the history of medieval France for an example of man creating his own hell.
Both films have controversial scenes of blasphemy, murder, torture and sexual perversion. The main difference between them? In The Exorcist, the Catholic Church is an ally against a genuine, supernatural devil; in The Devils, the Catholic Church itself becomes a tool of evil in a vicious political struggle. Maybe that’s why the former became the highest grossing film (as of 1973) in the history of Warner Bros., and the latter was quickly buried and never released (to this day) on any home video format in the United States.
Both are great films, masterfully shot and beautifully acted by Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller and Max von Sydow (The Exorcist); and Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed (The Devils). They are also radically different viewing experiences, so a double feature of the two won’t wear you out. Probably.
The Exorcist (in a recent “director’s cut”) and The Devils will be shown tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 12) at 7 PM at the GE Theatre at Proctors (432 State St., Schenectady). Tickets are $9, $6 students with I.D. For more info, call 346-6204.