It Came From the ’80s: How ‘The Exorcist’ Corrupted Two Catholic School Girls!

February 8, 2011

Iconic scene from The Exorcist (1973)

by Sheri White

If you’ve been reading my essays, you’d think that I only saw movies with boys when I was a teenager.  Not so!  One of my best friends, Marybeth, and I saw The Exorcist together at a midnight movie.

We worked together, with some of our other friends, at an amusement park called Wild World (which is now Six Flags, and has lost its charm).  Marybeth was a Carts Manager, and I was a Roving Cashier. Yeah, we were pretty cool.

One night after the park closed, Marybeth and I decided to go to see a movie.  Midnight movies were popular in the 80s, so there was always an excuse to be out late.  Sometimes, telling our parents we were seeing a midnight movie was an excellent opportunity to be getting into trouble somewhere else.

But on this night, we did go to the movies, and we got to see The Exorcist.  I had only seen bits and pieces of it on television; my mom wouldn’t let me watch it whenever it was on TV.  I had seen enough to know it was pretty scary.  Not to mention, Marybeth and I were Catholic girls and just knew this was a true story.  I mean, the nuns at school were always warning us away from Ouija boards and rock music since they were evil and could possess us.

I don’t know about Marybeth, but I believed with all my heart that a Ouija board could possess you (rock music not so much).  I even went into another room at a slumber party when one of the girls brought one out.

Hell, I still won’t mess with a Ouija board!

So when Regan befriended Captain Howdy through her board, I knew she was in for a lot of trouble.  Understatement, right?

I remember watching a lot of The Exorcist through my fingers.  I still think it’s the scariest movie ever made, and I still can’t watch it alone.  Marybeth and I did a lot of grabbing one another and shrieking, especially when Regan’s head spun around.  The sound it made!  Dear God, the sound.

This was before the Director’s Cut that was released back in 2000, thankfully.  I think if I had seen the “spider walk” at age 16, I’d still be recovering.

Get this, though – my 15-year-old daughter recently watched The Exorcistall by herself.  And it was the Director’s Cut version with the “spider walk!”  WTF? The kid is braver than I am, that’s for sure.

Although I was completely terrified during the movie, I had a lot of fun. Trying to sleep later that night was a different story; I kept seeing Regan as she levitated during the exorcism in my mind’s eye.  And was it wrong to think the young priest was cute?  I’m sure the nuns at school would be horrified to know I thought so.

Marybeth and I are still friends, almost 30 years later.  I hope she remembers that night and had as much fun as I had.  I don’t know if she’s seen The Exorcist since that midnight movie.  I’ve seen the “spider walk” online (thanks for sending me the link, lovely daughter; you know I can’t resist links) and that’s been enough for me.

I still listen to rock and roll, though – even if it is the Devil’s music.

The Exorcist Trailer

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