Based on his best-selling novel, The Exorcist was written and produced by William Peter Blatty, who worked alongside Hollywood director William Friedkin. The film was influenced by an actual exorcism case involving the supposed demonic possession of a fourteen-year-old boy in a suburb of Washington D.C. A student at the Jesuit Georgetown University at the time, the young Blatty felt that the boy's eventual healing was proof of the devil's existence, and thus the power of God, heaven, and faith.
The film recounts the story of Regan, a pre-pubescent girl living with her single mother, Chris MacNeil, in a posh Georgetown suburb. All is going well until Chris hears strange sounds in the attic, which is followed by a series of peculiar behaviors elicited by Regan. She becomes unruly, urinates in front of guests, and uses gratuitous profanity among other things.
Her mother is shocked and desperate, so quickly consults a team of doctors for her care. Regan undergoes several intensely painful medical procedures, but nothing seems to give definitive physical results. After the death of a family friend and her continually dangerous behavior, the doctors 'give up' and resort to religious means. They suggest the ritual of an exorcism in helping Regan get back to her usual self.
Chris approaches Father Karras to perform the exorcism. After much hesitation and doubt on his part, he eventually agrees to do so under the instruction of the experienced Father Merrin. What ensues is a fight between good and evil, where both sides pay a price for the liberation of little Regan.
Overall, The Exorcist proved to be a breakthrough in contemporary horror film, setting the stage for future successes in this genre. On the surface, the film was popular because of its cinematic craftsmanship, successfully achieving basic elements of a horror film and portraying supernatural events as highly realistic for its time. Additionally, on a deeper level, its exploration of controversial issues tapped into the true fears and concerns of crowds at large. Both of these cinematic and thematic aspects contributed to the film's wide appeal.
This annotated bibliography provides a brief list of sources that investigate these topics.
(It should be noted that there are certainly several controversial themes highlighted in the film. Such include, but are not limited to: female and child victimization, uncontrollable youth, violation and disfigurement of the body, offensive language, sexual vulgarity, desecration of the Catholic Church, breakdown of the family, destruction of the home, etc. Since this project only entails ten items, I have chosen to focus on one overarching issue that the film forces us to contemplate--the roles of religion and science/modern day medicine in the healing process. I present four sources that offer differing views on this; the other six describe cinematic techniques, of which two assess their credibility based on audience reaction.)
Call#: Van Pelt Library PN1997.E96 K476 1997
This small reader gives an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at the making of The Exorcist. It includes details about disagreements between director Friedkin and producer Blatty, interviews with child star Linda Blair, rare photos shot on set, and background information on the methods used to manufacture the many subliminal images and special effects sequences. Written by film critic Mark Kermode, he gets at the bottom of many of the rumors and mysteries surrounding the film.Make-up artists, special-effects advisors, and the optical-effects team worked tireless hours in order to create shockingly realistic visuals that broke many cinematic boundaries. First off, it turns out that the entire MacNeil house was re-constructed from scratch in a New York studio. The real house in Georgetown was only used for exterior shots. Friedkin’s team constructed mock-ups of Regan’s bedroom, complete with false walls to promote the jerking of the bed, an air-vented window that would blow and billow on cue, and false ceilings that would allow Blair to levitate with the help of piano wires (previously rumored to have been possible by the use of a ‘magnetic field’). Furthermore, the entire room was encased in a refrigerator-like cocoon, which kept the temperature below freezing point in order to create visibly condensed breath.
Another salient special effect was Regan’s projectile vomiting. Make-up artist Dick Smith developed a plastic mouth harness that would pump split pea soup into Blair’s mouth, then out through a central nozzle. On other side of her face, the harness would be covered by heavy makeup, while the main feeder tube would lay underneath her hair. When in use, Regan could be seen vomiting large amounts of green matter from her mouth, in a supernatural--yet realistic way.
In addition, Regan had both a human-double (played by Eileen Dietz) and dummy-double. In the famous 360 degree head-turn sequence, the camera moves from Father Karras’ indifferent reaction, to the dummy, which is seen in a full face shot overlapped with the heavily made-up features of Eileen Dietz. Apparently, the optical effects team used a beam-splitter to match a live, glass reflection of Dietz speaking in demon-like make-up, over a head-shot of Blair’s life-size dummy, which remained stationary in contrast. This technique makes the viewer see the dummy ‘move’, which contrasts with the previous head-revolving shot. Thus, in a single image, Friedkin takes the film from the absurd to the awe-inspiring, thereby accomplishing horror when laughter could have easily replaced it.
These are only a few examples of the unconventional special effects employed in The Exorcist. With an approximate $12 million budget, and the ingenuity of a unique collective of artists, Friedkin was able to direct a film that blurred the line between illusion and reality, therefore successfully creating a true horror film.
Call#: Van Pelt Library--4 East--Temporary Location Annenberg PN1995.9.H6 C72 1994
In Ch 2 of Terror and Everyday Life, titled “Genre Criticism and the Horror Film”, Crane argues that there has been a dramatic shift in the fundamental characteristics underlying the successful contemporary horror film. He has seen a pattern in earlier films, in which it was obvious to discern whether a moment on screen was to be humorous or frightening. He believes that today’s horror does not draw such a clear distinction, but instead makes the viewer just as likely to laugh or squirm with terror.
In fact, he goes on to discuss how the viewer must take the film seriously, as some parts are harmful, but at the same time it demands detachment—since what could have been a gory scene actually turns out to be a dark joke. In his words, “the audience must willingly allow the film to put blood pressure up a notch and tickle macabre funny bones” (36).
In addition, Crane believes that true fans willingly accept discontinuity and meandering plots. Today’s popular horror films do not make conventional sense and thus cause viewers to watch the screen, continually wondering what to do and how to react. In other words, one must be willing to go on this ‘roller coaster ride’ in order to find the film satisfying. On the other hand, for those who need structure and predictability, these new films seem offensive and incomprehensible.
The Exorcist fits in neatly with Crane’s ideas regarding the basic elements of horror films. Through the use of various special effects, many scenes appear outrageous, consequently affecting the audience on opposite ends of a continuum (where one end represents humor and the other threat). For instance, the unpleasant projectile vomiting, desecration of the statue of Mary in the church, obscene sexual language voiced by the seemingly innocent twelve year old Regan, and her uncontrollable thrashing on her bed can either make the audience snicker and laugh, or cringe in utter fear. In addition, the plot is not completely predictable, and many parts do not neatly tie together (i.e. the ending can have multiple meanings). According to Crane, this marks a true contemporary horror film and thus a shift away from previous conventions.
Klemesrud, Judy. "They wait hours--to be shocked." New York Times on the Web 27 Jan 1974.
University of Pennsylvania Library, Philadelphia 9 May 2008.
This is a NY Times article written about a month after The Exorcist was released in theatres. Klemesrud stood in a massively long line, interviewing ticketholders and employees at Manhattan’s Cinema I complex. She found out that previous moviegoers had not only vomited, but also hurriedly left, fainted, screamed, endured heart attacks—and one even reportedly had a miscarriage due to the horrific scenes.
Many people waited for up to twelve hours to be able to see how the impossible would be represented on screen. The crowds wanted to see flying objects, spinning heads, levitation, and not to mention the morbid scenes capturing blood, vomit, guts, and gore. Several fans wondered if parts of the book would actually be represented in the film—such as the taboo masturbation-with-the-cross incident and gratuitous language use, among other possibilities.
Some of the interviewees were seeing the movie for the third or fourth time. In fact, one reported feeling “contaminated” when they left the theatre, unable to get rid of the images and feelings aroused during previous views. Even though he had been having terrifying dreams ever since, he still wanted to see it again because of its extreme shock factor.
People leaving the theatre commented on how accurate the film was in comparison to the book, and remarked how “there’s nothing else like it”. Klemesrud goes on to quote a Chicago newspaper, which reported a psychiatric hospital admitting six people who had seen the film.
In considering this historical report, The Exorcist seems to have realistically transmitted a sense of fear and threat; so much so that it managed to provoke all of these reactions and predicaments among its viewers. It can be inferred that the cinematic techniques employed throughout the film played a large role in bringing about these truly terrifying sentiments. Had these special effects not been believable and successful in capturing people’s greatest fears, the film would not have been enjoying so much box office prosperity.
Ballon, Bruce, and Leszcz, Molyn. "Horror Films: Tales to Master Terror or Shapers of Trauma?." American Journal of Psychotherapy. 61.2 (2007). 11 May 2008 .
This scientific article discusses the phenomenon known as cinematic neurosis; it was written by and based on the clinical experiences of two psychiatrists. The authors review the literature regarding symptom presentation and case reports, as well as the possible etiology of the pathology, including trauma theory, narrative theory, and borderline personality organization theory as it relates to the structure of the typical horror film. Specifically, they focus on The Exorcist since it is a powerful example of an “invasion metamorphosis” narrative of the paranoid-horror film class. The ‘invasion’ involves the possession of an innocent young girl; the ‘metamorphosis’ involves her transformation into a demonic creature who threatens those around her, and the setting is the safe home. The storyline constantly deals with paranoid anxiety due to Regan’s dangerous and unpredictable behaviors, as well as depressive anxiety with the loss of a loved one (as experienced by the passing of Father Karras’ mother).
Ballon and Leszcz argue that throughout The Exorcist, an individual can relate to parts of the narrative that parallel their own life experiences. This can either carry levels of stress that will be mastered, or serve as a traumatic event that will be re-enacted until it is conquered. This “re-enactment” takes the form of cinematic neurosis, which is a culturally influenced disorder associated with the development of anxiety, somatic responses, dissociation, paranoia, panic attacks, and even psychotic symptoms after watching a film. In this case, the film stimulus overwhelms the coping threshold of the viewer, resulting in symptom presentation. (However, the factors that predict the onset of this condition include not only the viewing experience, but also one’s pre-existing vulnerabilities/personality traits.)
The authors posit that the characteristics of the movie itself enhance the identification process and its potentially traumatic impact. Graphic films, such as The Exorcist, can overwhelm ego boundaries with the help of the actors’ skill, music, and most importantly, the special effects and cinematography—all of which further enhance the narrative. The latter features capture and heighten the characters’ pain and suffering, relentlessly shocking the audience without warning. Furthermore, the psychiatrists write that the “film’s special effects sequences become central as the film reaches its climax”. Thus, it can be concluded that the presentation of cinematic neurosis is related to the quality and shock-factor of the cinematic techniques that accompany the narrative. The fact there have been several medically documented cases of this culturally shaped disorder is a testament to how effective the artistic team was in capturing people’s greatest fears and creating effects that were easy to believe—although unfortunately sometimes to the viewer’s detriment.
Al-Krenawi, Alean and Graham, John. "Spirit Possession and Exorcism in the Treatment of a Bedouin Psychiatric Patient." Clinical Social Work Journal 25.2 (1997).
10 May 2008 .
This study investigated the diagnostic decisions regarding the case of a Bedouin psychiatric patient, called “M”, who underwent sudden and severe behavioral changes. He felt angrily towards his mother’s disrespect for his wife, eventually instigating several arguments, and nearly physically attacked her.
He was referred to the nearest biomedical hospital, where he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with auditory and visual hallucinations that were themed around demonic images. The psychiatrist also gave him anti-psychotics in order to alleviate the hallucinations. Though the drugs calmed him, they did not eliminate these intrusive images. M failed to improve until he received guidance from a social worker, who arranged treatment with a traditional healer upon consideration of his Muslim background. (Because they highly regard the Mother figure, any wrongdoing towards her is considered sinful. Thus, M believed that God inflicted punishment by imbuing him with evil spirits.)
The healer, or Dervish, functions as a Bedouin version of an exorcist, working to treat mental and physical illness through the use of ritual and prayer. He diagnosed M as being possessed by demons, and went on to perform Tazeem, which is a dialogue with spirits—much like Western exorcism. The Dervish overpowered the evil spirits and managed to quickly relieve M of both his hallucinations and pent-up anger.
He continued seeing both biomedical and traditional practitioners until he felt fully restored. The psychiatrist admitted his initial diagnosis was incorrect, since the medications were not appropriate for M’s condition as he should have been classified as neurotic. Understanding his cultural framework, which insists on an external locus of control, was crucial for offering him effective treatment. Thus, the modern, scientific system would have been futile without the integration of traditional, religious-inspired practices. The authors posit that both realms should be seen on the same level, as complementary structures enriching one another.
In terms of the film, The Exorcist presented the ritual as outrageous and dramatic. However, this actually promoted the curiosity of many viewers, compelling them to explore the possibility of exorcism as a real phenomena with tangible benefits. People began to entertain ideas relating to practices of the occult, which involve superstition and supernatural powers; many took an interest in studying foreign cultures and understanding their belief systems for healing. As addressed in this article, it turned out that the synthesis of both science and religion proved to give the best outcome.
Hence, the film was influential in shaping America’s modern day religious scene. Many fans started to explore what they initially feared, opening up their minds to a new world in which otherwise ‘strange’ and seemingly ‘uncultivated’ practices were discovered to be actually useful towards mental health. In essence, people began to realize that biomedicine, alone, does not always provide the best answers.
Thavis, John. "Catholic Exorcist: Demonic influence is strong in today's world." Catholic Online International News 29 Aug 2006. Catholic News Services. 10 May 2008. .
This article was written during a religious Communion and Liberation conference in Rimini, Italy in August of 2006. The journalist describes the controversial beliefs of Rome Diocese exorcist, Father Amorth. He has spoken openly about demonic possession, and feels strongly about the existence of the devil and its influences, which come in several forms. According to his knowledge, every culture in mankind has been aware of these powers. He goes on to say that not only individuals can become possessed, but also entire groups of people, and ultimately, populations. He mentions how he is certain that Hitler and the Nazi regime were under the devil’s influence, as well as Stalin and other major world leaders.
Father Amorth thinks that the reason why demonic influence has such a strong global presence is due to the steadying decline in Christian believers, and the shift to superstition and occult practices which rely on magic, spirits, and other supernatural phenomena. Though he acknowledges that devil possession is extremely rare, he posits that the only way to heal those who have been ‘enticed’ is through the ritual of exorcism. This involves a chant supported by the church, which will overcome the evil forces.
This respected religious figure brings forth a major theme throughout The Exorcist. Does the devil exist?, and if so, can it be overcome through religious means? In fact, during the first half of the movie, Regan’s mother only trusts science and technology in discovering her daughter’s condition. The team of physicians thinks her behavior originates from mental illness, but cannot seem to find any abnormalities that could explain her sudden personality changes. She is in complete shock when they suggest exorcism, and only allows herself to believe in Regan’s possession merely because she thinks nothing is actually wrong with her. Hence, it must have been some outside force inflicting this harm, and so the devil must indeed be real.
In addition, the ending was highly ambiguous to most viewers. It could have promoted them to question the existence of God, with the torment of an innocent girl and the eventual death of two Fathers. Or, on the other hand, the closing events could have caused people to re-affirm their faith in the Church, with the victory of religious rite over evil, since the exorcism returns Regan to her normal and healthy state. In essence, the interpretation is highly personal, where some may side with Father Amorth and his statements on the value of exorcism, while others may find this deplorable and refuse to believe in the possibility of demonic possession. Still many others fall in between, not quite certain about the position of religion and the causes of evil.
Ferracuti, Stefano and Sacco, Roberto. "Dissociative Trance Disorder: Clinical and Rorscharch Findings." Journal of Personality Assessment. 66.3 (1996). 10 May 2008. .
Ferracuti and Sacco, two psychiatrists, conducted a study on non-psychiatric individuals who believed they were possessed by the devil. From a biomedical perspective, the purpose of their research was to better understand and potentially classify their unique behaviors. After receiving permission from the official exorcist of the Rome diocese, subjects were recruited from weekly exorcisms. Participants, who all strongly followed the Roman Catholic faith, were administered the Dissociative Disorders Diagnostic Schedule, Roscharch Test, and clinical interviews.
Findings suggest that DTD is a distinct clinical manifestation on a dissociative continuum. It shares many personality features with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder), such as altered states of consciousness with a foreign identity, problems in control, psychological complexity, and feelings of guilt. However, those specifically with DTD use extreme dissociation for regenerative purposes, only performing the ‘possessed’ behaviors in a socially accepted, safe, and controlled environment. Otherwise known as an exorcism in the Catholic Church, this setting allows people to reorganize their inner conscious state around an image of “evilness”, thus allowing the expression of inappropriate and unacceptable behaviors. The belief in a state of possession functions as an external control for the low capacity for ego integration and reality distortion manifested by these individuals. In other words, the Church provides coping devices that work as effective therapeutic mechanisms, in which possession serves to fulfill various needs by giving people a chance to let out repressed feelings and develop a more organized ego framework. The exorcist works as a guide in this endeavor, eventually helping people control their socially denied impulses while simultaneously replenishing their faith.
Had the authors not known about the individuals’ religious beliefs, the diagnosis would have been high-functioning neurotic with DID, instead of DTD. They consider the major differences between DTD and DID attributable to traditional cultural attitudes, which influence the belief in possession. Claims of ‘possession’ signify an effort towards ego integration, giving people a sense of security and thus revealing the importance of exorcism as a valuable religious practice.
Their study directly relates to an issue in The Exorcist: if possession is a ‘real’ phenomenon, what does it look like? Also, where does one draw the line between mental illness, where science is most useful, and possession, in which religion offers the best treatment? Ferracuti and Sacco emphasize how DTD can be understood as a psychiatric condition with problems in ego dissociation, potentially treatable through psychotherapy and other biomedical means. However, they also acknowledge the importance of cultural beliefs in shaping its outcome. The possession state exists to those who believe in it, and consequently, many fans were curious enough to reconsider their religious commitment, as well as their views on the causes and remedies of mental psychopathology. This once taboo issue quickly became the center of attention for some time.
In “Part I: The Exorcist as Hero”, Cuneo describes America's surprisingly widespread fascination with exorcism. He points out two major contributing factors: the influence of the mainstream entertainment industry and the impact of contemporary cultural attitudes on society.
He discusses the novel and film of The Exorcist, claiming that its instant media attention sparked an avid interest in the healing power of faith. Since Blatty created the narrative from a supposed exorcism case, audiences across the nation had difficulty in separating reality from fantasy. Cuneo believes there was an overwhelming consensus regarding the image of the two Fathers who performed the exorcism--that of self-sacrificing heroes who commanded respect for the Church. It was not their scientific expertise that helped them wage the battle against evil, but rather their faith and knowledge of mysterious powers that saved Regan.
Consequently, from the mid to late-1970s, almost every media outlet concerned itself with exorcism and its validity. Newspapers, radio casts, talk shows, and even a series of related films were released (Devil Times Five, The Possessed, Good Against Evil, etc.). Furthermore, possibly because the entertainment industry is known to shape public opinion and capture the national psyche, there was a sudden increase in possession cases reported to Catholic rectories.
Throughout the rest of the section, he argues that modern US culture supports the use of exorcism. It is apparently readily available, cheap and fast; it does not require a lot of time and investment like many other treatments. Exorcism practices are also morally exculpatory, in that they place the blame of one’s problems outside of the self—it is essentially a guilt-free process. These are all precisely American values. In addition, it can even be seen as an alternative therapy. Since the current biomedical system is often unfeeling, heavily bureaucratic, and too technical, such therapies are seen as comforting and supportive. In line with Cuneo’s ideas, instead of seeing the problem as cholesterol or genes, many Americans actually think of it as a demon. Exorcism offers the possibility of a fresh start—a rebirth of sorts.
However, he acknowledges the fact that not everyone is equally influenced by the media nor our current cultural ideals. He maintains that exorcism is a “ritualized placebo”—those who want it to work, will believe it to work, and will actually feel changes as a result.
In continuation, though Cuneo watched hundreds of exorcisms, he never witnessed any strange happenings. He attributed many conditions to sound medical, social, or psychological causes. Since people report its efficacy though, he concludes that the practice has the potential to be advantageous, but not in the ways as advertised by the media. One can only judge its effectiveness on a personal level. Overall, American exorcism tests the limits of traditional religious values, pop culture, and current beliefs in psycho-spiritual healing practices, thus shaping the face of modern religion.
Shay, Don. "Dick Smith--50 Years in Make-up." Cinefex Jun 1995. <http://www.dicksmithmake-up.com/Cinefex_article.pdf>.
Cinefax is one of the first professional industry publications providing the latest information about physical and computer-generated image special effects. This particular issue was in commemoration of Dick Smith's fifty years in the TV and film arenas. Included in the spread were several interviews with his previous colleagues, dozens of photos displaying his work-in-action, year-by-year blurbs describing the details behind his most significant creations (1945-1995), and an in-depth interview with the artist himself.
Smith spoke about his beginnings in the make-up business, where he started off as an untrained yet passionate artist working long hours in his New York basement. He used any sort of material he could find in order to create astonishingly realistic molds and figures that were eventually used in many major productions. His dedication and drive are especially evident in what he still claims to be one of his best works, The Exorcist.
For this film, Smith had only three months to handle several types of challenges, ranging from demonic and old-age make-up to special effects make-up involving various technologies inspired by his own previous inventions. Most of his time went into the transformation of the innocent Regan into the frightening product of demonic possession. He used multiple appliances to mimic facial scratches and boils on her face; these became progressively worse by the use of other techniques as well. In continuation, he employed the use of “primitive bladder technology”, in which a condom was glued to the underside of a foam-latex appliance in a scene where Regan’s throat scarily swelled up (as if the demon was crawling down her throat). Smith also manufactured contact lenses of different colors and shapes—these were used in particular scenes in order to enhance the storyline. In one of the most memorable scenes involving her slithery, long tongue, the artist took a cast of Blair’s actual tongue and used special rubber to create eerie snake-like effects.
Smith claims that his most significant achievement in the film was something unnoticeable—the make up of forty five year old actor, Max von Sydow. He was given the role of the older priest, even though he looked the part of the younger, Father Karras. Smith was able to age him twenty five years by using appliance pieces and old-age stipple in a creative fashion. He also created several formulas to accommodate the set’s extreme weather changes, which went from the blazing hot Iraqi desert to the sub-freezing temperatures of the bedroom scenes.
All in all, Dick Smith’s contributions to The Exorcist changed the face of special effects and raised the expectations for films that were to follow. His work undeniably continues to influence the production of highly realistic effects. In fact, in the article, he claims that “even when the characters were fantastically weird, I always tried to make them believable…actors have to feel like they are the person they are portraying. I think my work has helped many to achieve that.” There is certainly no doubt that he was successful in transmitting this sentiment to audiences as well—instilling fear in millions of moviegoers.
Warner Brothers. "The Exorcist: The Sound of Silence." 1973, 2000. 10 May 2008 <http://theexorcist.warnerbros.com/cmp/silencebottom.html>.
This webpage offers the perspectives of many contributors to the soundtrack of The Exorcist. There are several instances of the unique mechanisms used to convey the unusual sound effects.
For example, Friedkin stresses the use of sonic contrast throughout the film. He wanted to use sound to match the extreme visual shifts onscreen, such as that between light versus dark. This creates a “startle effect”, where sound functions as a weapon that penetrates the audience with sudden assaultive effects, unpredictably followed by a surrounding quiet. Perfectly capturing this is the scene where the traumatizing noises of the x-ray machine suddenly disappear into thin air. The screen blacks out, making the moment much more intense.
In addition, many examples of diegetic sound exist throughout the film. In the opening scene, which displays countless workers digging in the rubble of the Iraqi desert, the sound of the axes hitting the rocks simultaneously occurs with the echoing sound that is produced. Apparently, Friedkin checked this scene over one hundred times in order to ensure its accuracy, in hopes of creating the most realistic soundspace possible.
Friedkin also perfected the voice of the demon. Initially, he tinkered with the combination of Blair’s voice and that of a male. However, the synthesized result sounded too fake. He resorted to calling an old friend—Mercedes McCambridge—in order to create a more convincing demonic tone. She went to great lengths to try and produce the most horrific noises; she chain smoked, swallowed raw eggs, and even tied herself to a chair, among other things. Eventually, her painful sounds were combined with frequencies of angry bees and slaughtered pigs to produce the relentless devil within Regan.
Overall, Buzz Knudson was responsible for bringing together all of these sounds and inserting them into a continuous flow. Hundreds of different sound experts were called in to contribute to even the smallest auditory effects. Artists would experiment with atonal beats using materials like crystal stemware, old leather wallets, and pencils. The track took over fifteen weeks to make, though most movies took around six weeks. Indeed, the film had brilliant sound engineering.
Part of the success of The Exorcist must be credited to the work of the sound production team. Sound functions as a storytelling element, becoming just as important as the visuals when it comes to horror filmmaking. Buzz Knudson pioneered the use of new ideas and technologies; he was able to blend in music with the background—never dominating a scene—yet subtly building up its intensity. His immense efforts were crucial in portraying the evil nature of the devil, certainly shocking audiences across the nation.