The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology review

Affordable boxset showcases the highs and lows of the legendary horror series

Few franchises are as wildly uneven as the one that span out of the critical and commercial success of William Friedkin's controversial horror masterpiece The Exorcist (1973).

While there may be a half-decent idea at the heart of John Boorman's Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), it's been buried under so much pseudo-scientific technobabble and terrible dialogue that you'd be hard-pushed to realise it. Still, viewed in the right frame of mind, it's one of the best bad movie experiences you can ever have.

Wisely ignoring that film altogether, William Peter Blatty's belated Exorcist III (1990) finds the author of the original concocting an underrated thriller about a series of murders that appear linked to the events of the first film. It's just a shame that production company Morgan Creek couldn't resist meddling and forced a slightly silly finale onto the film.

Speaking of meddling, next up is Paul Schrader's Dominion: Prequel to The Exorcist (2005). This intriguing depiction of Father Merin's first encounter with the demon Pazuzu was apparently too low-key and thoughtful for Morgan Creek, which binned the film and hired Renny Harlin to direct a flashier, more FX-led version of the story. Only after Harlin's lame-brained Exorcist: The Beginning (2004) flopped at cinemas did the studio gave Schrader the money to finish his far more effective version.
Movie rating: 3.5/5

Picture: While The Exorcist has had plenty of attention lavished on its Blu-ray presentation (read our review of the original standalone Blu-ray here), the sequels are far more modest affairs. That said, the only really problematic Full HD encode is that of Exorcist II… which looks muddy and bereft of detailing.
Picture rating: 3.5/5

Audio: Bar the 'Extended Director's Cut' of The Exorcist and Exorcist II…, the films all boast DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks. Of these two, the former opts for a DTS 6.1ES track, while the latter sticks with a surprisingly lively DTS-HD MA mono mix.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The Exorcist is loaded with bonus features and is offered in two different cuts. Extras on the others are minimal, although the commentaries for the two prequels are enlightening affairs.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: This bargain boxset represents a devilishly good deal for fans of this uneven fright franchise

The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology, Warner Bros., All-region BD, £30 approx