Best cinema experience
(Original Release: 1973 / Re-release: 1998)
Back in ’98 when I was a mere 15-year-old pup, I entered a radio phone in competition on West FM. It was to do with the re-release of The Exorcist. I was a horror film fanatic at that age and The Exorcist was one of those mythical banned movies that was impossible to get a hold of at the video shop or to buy anywhere. This was the pre-DVD era. It was back when you recorded scary films from the TV, setting the timer on the video set or using the magical Video Plus codes that you found in the newspaper. Films like The Shining, Amityville Horror, The Thing, Halloween, Friday 13th, Candyman, The Wicker Man, Psycho, Child’s Play, Hammer Horror Movies etc were shown late at night and it was a ritual to make sure they got taped!
The chance to win tickets to a late night showing of The Exorcist was a golden ticket to me! This was the chance to see the Holy Grail of Horror! A BANNED FILM! I had managed to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead thanks to a friend of my parents who had managed to evade the ban on ‘video nasties’ in the 80s and had copies of them, but never the Exorcist.
The Exorcist was banned and still remained a myth to me and the only way of learning about it was through film magazines around Halloween when they had their Top 100 Scariest Movies articles. This was the pre-internet era as well! Wikipedia and IMDb weren’t even a thing! I do remember reading William Peter Blatty’s book for a school project… my Standard Grade English teacher wasn’t to keen… but I won that challenge!
A few hours after entering the phone competition I received a phone call from West FM telling me that I’d won the tickets! Hurrah! They took the usual details – name, address, postcode (remember when you got decent things through the post?) and they said…
‘Are you over 18?’
Even though I wasn’t.
Fuck the rules!
This was THE EXORCIST!!!
A few days later and two of these came through the post…
The excitement was unreal!!!
So the date came… Friday 12th June 1998…
It was a school day.
It must have been a long day.
And a long afternoon and evening.
My friend Ross and I spent some time getting ourselves dressed up, hair did in order to look as old as we possibly could. This must have been most entertaining for the parentals. I do remember him putting rolled up socks in his shoes to make him taller! I was already 6 foot with a beard by then so I was OK.
I remember my parents running us in the car down to the Odeon Cinema in Ayr… Ross and I shitting ourselves in case they said
NO YOU AIN’T 18 AND YOU AIN’T COMING IN to us…
But all went to plan and our golden tickets got us in to see The Exorcist!!!
The film was fantastic!
The Holy Grail of Horror had finally been watched!
We got picked up, taken home and we spent the rest of the night close to tears, terrified and too scared to move.
I wasn’t born when it was originally released in 1973, but I’m so glad I experienced the hype surrounding its re-release in 1998.
This movie was, and still is, my best ever cinema experience!