Monday, June 15, 1998 Published at 09:18 GMT 10:18 UK
The Exorcist returns
Still shocking 25 years later
The church condemned it, Rev Billy Graham branded it evil, members of the audience were physically sickened by it, and 25 years later, the British Board of Film Classification continues to ban it on video.
But beginning June 19, the ultimate horror film, The Exorcist, will be re-released in cinemas in Scotland, prior to a wider UK release later this year.
Inspired by the last official case of exorcism in the United States, the Oscar-winning film tells the story of a 12-year-old girl in a Washington household who becomes possessed by the Devil.
The film's "creep" factor was furthered by rumours of the "curse of the Exorcist". The set burned down for no apparent reason, and several people involved with the film died suddenly, including an assistant cameraman's baby, a night watchman and an actor whose character was killed in the movie.
For these reasons and others, James Ferman of the British Board of Film Classification defends his decision to ban the film.
In an upcoming BBC documentary, The Fear of God: 25 Years of The Exorcist, Mr Ferman said: "The problem with The Exorcist is not that it is a bad film - it is that it is a very good film. It is one of the most powerful films ever made.
But Mark Kermode, a film critic, author and presenter of The Fear of God, disagrees.
"For The Exorcist to mean anything, you have to be quite grown up. It's not a film directed at kids. It's directed at adults," he said.
"Younger people simply don't understand what all the fuss is about. They just see it as a movie with some hokey special effects."
Father Tom Bermingham, a priest who was asked to exorcise the film's set, goes even further. He believes the film can exert a positive force.
"I have no doubt that, strangely enough - paradoxically, if you will - the film was a force for good."
How many would agree is not clear. But as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.
Audiences can decide for themselves. The Exorcist opens at selected Scottish cinemas on Friday June 19.
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