Friday, April 04, 2008
Day 3: The Exorcist...ON LASERDISC!!
Sadly though, I don't own this piece of forgotten technology. My friend Bill does. A few years back, he went to a yard sale and found the Laserdisc player. I guess it was like under 10 bucks or something cause Bill bought it with no hesitation. Not too long after that, he went into a used record/movie shop and found laserdiscs. He eventually settled on The Exorcist. I remembered all this while planning 30 Days of Horror and asked if he'd like to participate. He agreed.
So today I head over to his house and he doesn't have the player hooked up yet. So after looking through 10 thousand cords, I finally find one and I pray the entire setup works cause Bill hasn't used it yet. Finally, after 20 some odd minutes and me thinking we're gonna have to scrap this idea, everything turns on and I start celebrating my first laserdisc player hook up.
Most likely you know what a laserdisc is, but then I don't know who all reads my blog. You could be a 14-year-old Pokemon nerd who doesn't watch anything past 1998 and you get a kick out of 20(something)-year-old guys writing about "old" movies. So if you fall in this category, I'll give you some history of laserdiscs. For the rest of you, you can skip down.
You probably won't believe this, but the very first laserdiscs were made in the early 60's, but was later modified to look like the laserdiscs we know them now around 1969. In 1970 they were distributed to the public and everyone was like "OOOH!! Shiny!!" The thing I noticed is that the thing looks like a record. When you consider that nowadays, DVD's look like CD's, and one could argue that VHS could kinda sorta be like cassettes, it surprises me they didn't come up with a format similar to 8-Track.
Anyway, the first theatrical movie to be put on laserdisc was Jaws back in 1978 and since then laserdiscs were totally not sweeping the nation. The main problems with the laserdisc is they're kinda heavy, kinda big, and the discs are two sided, so they get smudged easily. When I was pulling out the disc I didn't realize this right away and I was like "oh shit" and quickly grabbed it in the middle.
And the double sided thing was kind of annoying cause the first side played like maybe 45-50 minutes of the movie, then just all of a sudden it'd abruptly end, and it'd be like smack dab in the middle of the scene.
The first abrupt ending came a bit after Regan starts showing signs of possession and it cuts to Father Karras giving mass. So off I go to the player to turn it over and start up side two, which seemed to cut off the rest of the mass scene. Whatever, it wasn't the good scary part, so I was good with that.
The last abrupt change occured right before the exorcism itself. I think whoever made this laserdisc did that on purpose, cause the exorcism part is on a disc all by it self. So we put that in and continue getting the crap scared out of us. But all this disc changing is really annoying and I'm guessing other movies were like that, so I can see why this didn't really take off. I'm a pretty lazy person, and when I watch a movie, I get into a comfort zone and don't wanna get out of it unless I have to go to the bathroom. So to get up every 45-50 minutes to flip, then put in a new disc is pretty annoying. And the endings really are abrupt. Here's an example that I'm paraphrasing
Ellen Burstyn: You gotta help me!
Father Karras: I can't. Exorcisms don't happen anymore.
Ellen Burstyn: But my daughter isn't my daughter! I think its satan.
Father Karras: Satan, huh? Well, maybe I'll take a loo-
I won't rag too much on the quality of the movie cause this was an old format and didn't have the high-def we have today, but it looked almost about the same as if you watched it on a film reel or even an older VHS copy. But I'm not one of those purists who demand the screen be crystal clear quality, as long as I can see stuff happening, I'm good.
And what I liked was this really was a predosessor to the DVD because on the back of the cover, it listed chapter breaks. But instead of giving each chapter a unique named like "The Exorcism" or "Seeking Medical Treatment" or even "Your Mother Sucks Cocks In Hell!", it gives a full sentence description of each scene in the chapter. And what cracked my shit up was on side two, which is when Regan is fully possessed, it tells us which chapter has the scene where she stabs her va-jay-jay with the crucifix, and which chapter has her throwing up all over Father Karras.
So to talk more about the movie now, I can't say the experience was different watching it on laserdisc. It was just like watching a regular movie on VHS, but having to flip over, then put in a new disc once in awhile. But it wasn't bad either. I do think it was kinda cool and I think it's neat Bill has one.
And I did pick up a reference to Father Marrin doing an Exorcism in Africa, which is what the prequel was all about. I personally didn't like the prequel, it seemed rather boring and I really don't remember a exorcism even happening in the damn movie. But that could be my faulty memory. I haven't seen the other version of the prequel yet, so maybe that one is more better? Guess we'll have to wait and see.