The Devil Inside: The Dark Legacy of the Exorcist

Type: Books

“At a time when critics are expected to be publicists, and anything famous is ‘classic’ or ‘iconic,’ Carlos Acevedo has managed to hold the line. The Devil Inside is a sharp, hard-nosed aesthetic and cultural investigation into what everybody was throwing up about fifty years ago. It succeeds as criticism, history, and social analysis.”

—Charles Taylor, film critic at Esquire, and author of Opening Wednesday at a Theater or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American ’70s

In 1973, The Exorcist left moviegoers gripping their rosary beads, vomiting in their popcorn buckets, and fainting in the sticky aisles. Cynically marketed as a cursed production based on a “true story,” The Exorcist quickly became one of the most controversial films ever released. With its groundbreaking special effects, relentless pace, and terrifying finale, the film revolutionized the horror genre and paved the way for future blockbusters.

In The Devil Inside, Carlos Acevedo goes beyond the myths to examine the national uproar The Exorcist caused, as well as the dark, real-world effects it had on a jittery audience. Until now, books about The Exorcist have largely perpetuated its legends while overlooking its cultural background. The Devil Inside places the film in its cinematic and social context—as a product of the New Hollywood, when maverick directors hijacked the film industry, and as part of the supernatural trends of the times, when the occult permeated music, books, and movies.

From the original possession case that inspired the novel to the troubled production to the conflicts on the set to the uptick in demands for actual exorcisms, The Devil Inside sheds new light on a shocking phenomenon that has remained a pop-culture touchstone for fifty years.