An Account of the Birth of a Classic: From **** to a Masterpiece of Its Genre, The Rise of The Exorcist in Italy

by Nadia Scippacercola

Note: Page numbers from the print version are indicated in brackets and should not be considered part of the text of the article. 

[page 191] Abstract: This paper analyzes news articles regarding The Exorcist over the last fifty years from the Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s oldest and most influential newspapers. This analysis uses the newspaper’s online database (Archivio PRO del Corriere della Sera) and was conducted systematically for the first decade or so from the book’s publication and the film’s release (1971–1983) and then in a synthetic way for the intervening decades. Through the study of the distribution, location, and content of the more than 1,500 references, the examination of the forms and stereotypes of the journalistic lexicon and storytelling, and the analysis of the critical judgments expressed in the elzeviri, this investigation focuses on a series of characteristic elements that over time have been inseparably merged into the narrative and the Italian imaginary connected to The Exorcist; finally, it highlights the evolution of critical perspectives

Keywords: history of criticism, Corriere della Sera, journalistic treatment, Italian Imaginary, reception

For assessing the cultural impact of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973), it is relevant to study how the film is firmly embedded in the imaginary of a people. Within the European context, the study of Italian culture is significant, both because the history of Italian cinema began a few months after the Lumière brothers’ first film screenings and because Italy is the state historically closest to the influence of the Vatican. This makes its audience culturally more sensitive to the diabolical theme. In this regard, concerning The Exorcist, we note that the Italian critic does not often speak of possession by a demon, but of diabolical possession tout court. [page 192]

The Exorcist: Notoriety

The first report in any way related to The Exorcist appears in the Corriere dell’Informazione1 on Saturday–Sunday October 23–24, 1971, among the Notizie da Hollywood (“News from Hollywood”); the article reports that Warner Bros. bought the cinematic rights to William Peter Blatty’s—incorrectly reported as “Bratty”—The Exorcist. The article clarifies that the author, although not new to working in cinema, managed to receive an exceptional contract, amounting to over US $600,000 (the equivalent of 350 million lire), as well as a percentage of the film’s earnings and the right to have unlimited supervision over production (“Un Esorcista”). This news is later taken up in a brief piece for the Corriere della Sera, “Un libro da 375 milioni,” which talks about a novel that, in the United States, would soon exceed over one million copies sold (Gervaso). 

About a month later, the film’s release caused a sensation in Italy, taking up two full pages of the Corriere della Sera at the beginning of February 1974, pages which convey part of the mythology being constructed around the film. First, there is Franco Occhiuzzi’s article “On American Screens, Friedkin’s Film ‘The Exorcist’: Queues and Fainting in New York for a Possessed Twelve-Year-Old” (“Sugli schermi”),2 followed by Gian Mario Maletto’s article “Millions in Line to See Her: Hysteria and Madness in America for a Possessed Twelve-Year-Old—Apocalyptic Scenes in Cinemas Where It’s Being Shown,” which reported:

A woman has even miscarried because of the horror caused by some sequences of the film, which tells the story of a young, possessed girl who commits blasphemous acts and tries to seduce the priest who wants to cure her—Two-million already grossed: audience success bigger even than that of The Godfather looms—In the meantime, hundreds of young spectators suffer from nightmares, and young girls see Satan in the faces of their boyfriends.—Accidents and deaths have [page 193] mysteriously affected the actors as well.3—The young protagonist, who is also a student, has suddenly become famous as a star. (“Milioni”)

Due to the dubbing process, the film arrived in Italy the following autumn, in 1974, so reporters were left to describe the lead-up to the Oscars (April 2, 1974) for this “film scandalo” since it hadn’t yet been released to the Italian public (Serafin, “La piccola”; Occhiuzzi, “È blindato”).

The Italian Reception

The Italian release of the film represents an exemplary case for several reasons. Its arrival is first announced by a 1974 short article, “September at the Movies: Here’s What We’ll Be Watching, The Film That Has Been Terrorizing America Arrives in Milan,” reporting: “The diabolical film The Exorcist will be in cinemas from September 20, after having terrified delicate nerved Americans for over a year.” Its release occurred in a “season that promises to be particularly rich. ... The likes of Buñuel, Visconti, Antonioni, Rossellini, Pasolini, and Bresson appear in the distribution companies’ release schedules.” The caption to a photo of a scene showing Regan and her mother in the studio reads: “the film that has been spreading panic and making millions in the USA and other countries,” with an accompanying chart entitled “The hit of the year” (“Settembre”).

From here follow excerpts from certain packed pages of criticism. A few days before the Italian release, Claudio Gorlier’s article “Preceded by Huge Hype The Exorcist Arrives in Italy, The Devil as ‘distraction’” opens with the following: “The reasons why Blatty’s book and the film that William Friedkin has adapted from it have so shaken American public opinion.—This irrational vein of ‘Satanism’ is an alternative to faith in psychoanalysis—We’re talking about scenes of mass hysteria, fainting, horror: how will an Italian audience react?” Gorlier begins by noting that the film was released in the United States immediately after Christmas 1973, and “in a [page 194] country that lives by the word of the Lord (and the pilgrim fathers were very concerned about the devil), the choice can’t have been accidental.” It’s worth remembering that the novel had already sold almost 10 million copies and that, in Italy, the story had “even reached women’s magazines.” Still: “We’re not, however, interested so much in the discourse around the novel or the book itself, torn to shreds by all the American critics who matter, as the background to both.” The contemporary context, therefore, should be analyzed:

The growing incidence of satanism and “dark” practices in the US, in literature or cinema—Rosemary’s Baby comes to mind, as well as the infinite spin-offs it produced—is distressingly seeping into everyday reality, as the horrific fate of Sharon Tate teaches us. ... This shift ... is becoming evident regarding the spectators. Aside from the usual endless queues at screenings, there have been thousands of outbursts of hysteria, fainting, filmgoers fleeing the cinema, and in one case, even a miscarriage. Vomiting seems to be the most common response to the most violent scenes. It should be remembered that the devil speaks through the mouth of the victim, with imaginable vulgarity, not to mention the excrement element. At one point, the girl masturbates with a crucifix. 

Various news reports indicate numerous hospitalizations of spectators in psychiatric clinics and requests for exorcists: “the [film] industry has transformed the show into a psychodrama” in which “the audience, in turn, imagines enjoying exorcism.” This is all explained by reference to “America’s long-standing spiritualistic and metaphysical vocation, with a strong magical connotation. One sorcerer hunts another: the devil defeats the computer.”

The landscape was sympathetic in America, with the puritan insistence on the devil’s constant presence in everyday life’s most insignificant episodes. ... The alienation of the “solitary crowd” and the neurosis of the age of technology find easy proof in the devil. The same [page 195] goes for individual and collective frustration, hence the considerable presence of people of color in the audience of The Exorcist. The progressive secularization of Protestantism has, however, watered down satanism. Hence the focus is on a Catholic environment in which the debate about the devil has regained strength. ... The hero who defeats the devil is a Jesuit, that is, the quintessence of the militant who is, at the same time, inflexible and theologically prepared.4

The critic continues: 

Without any doubt, satanism and magical practices represent a form of escapism in US society, especially in an urban society. Society identifies with the devil, masking a reality it fears or wishes to hide for convenience’s sake. ... The other side of the coin, for The Exorcist, aside from commercial interests, concerns he who, in the director’s chair, manipulates reality, arriving at a real brainwashing, a calculated dose of occult persuasion. The average American spectator ... offers themselves, in a sort of Russian roulette, as the victim of an exorcizable devil, a kind of Faust of the megalopolis, without realizing they are the victim of total mystification. (Gorlier) 

An additional two paragraphs are included on the same page: “Friday [20 September] The premiere in Milano e Rome” and Lorenzo Bocchi’s “Paris wasn’t shocked,” which informs us that the “film that terrified America, as it was defined by clever commercial propaganda,” and the “controversial cinematic work,” was viewed at a private preview screening in Paris and left viewers “quite impressed;” even if “to reassure the most sensitive” they had first to explain the special effects (e.g., the use of “spinach puree” for the green projectile bile). Father Henri Gesland, the exorcist of the diocese of Paris, “reminds Catholics who doubt the truth of the devil that Pope Paul VI said in November 1972 ‘This dark and seductive being really does exist. He is always in action.’” The critic of the Express, after watching The Exorcist, wrote that “he is still waiting, like [page 196] he is waiting for the Messiah, for a truly great horror film” (Bocchi).

The day after the Italian premiere, we see two full pages almost entirely dedicated to the film. In the first, we find the article “Exorcist: In Certain Key-Scenes the [Italian] Audience Burst Out Laughing” by Roberto Serafin, with photos and captions of “Linda’s two mums,” and “the film profile,” from which we learn that in Italy, children under the age of 14 are banned from viewing the film.5 Serafin accurately informs us, as we might guess from the heading:

Three cinemas showing the “diabolical” film stormed.—At the Manzoni, the crowd moved the box office two meters, with the cashier inside.—An ambulance was called for a fainting episode, but when it arrived, the spectator preferred to go back into the cinema and watch the end of the film.—The “crucial” moment: the Crucifix scene.—At the end scattered applause but disparate, varied comments. (“Esorcista”)

In addition to the young man’s illness, which we would today classify as needle phobia, the journalist, apparently well-informed, adds:

Among the other ten thousand Milanese that yesterday contented for the privilege of baptizing the devil in three of the city’s cinemas, several episodes of illness were reported, not serious, but numerous enough to strengthen William Friedkin’s film’s sinister notoriety and therefore retold with a wealth of detail and great pleasure by the cinema staff. The reporters, who were sent to the scene under instruction to record such incidents and any premature births by careless pregnant women (in America, it seems even this has occurred), kept a close eye on the toilets. Also on this front, however, the reports remain vague and contradictory. In the late afternoon at the Manzoni, some swear to have seen some gentlemen quickly heading towards the bathroom, pressing handkerchiefs to their mouths, evidently influenced by the colorful [page 197] projectiles of the possessed young woman. And there is no shortage of those who assure that at the Apollo, two other gentlemen, white as sheets, made quick exits and collapsed into couches to get some color back. On one detail, however, all the testimonies agree. Illness and fainting were reported only and exclusively by representatives of the so-called “stronger sex.” Women and young ladies left at the end of the screening reeling but equally ready to laugh about it. Some women massaged their stomachs to show that they were slightly upset. Almost all agreed that they had expected worse and that they almost felt sympathy for the devil, with its several swear words on several occasions.

Serafin, however, is rather perceptive:

However, the most scrupulous observers of the audience’s behavior insisted that the reactions should be studied during the screening, not at the end when instinctive modesty stops the spectator from revealing their real suffering. And so here we are, seated amongst the afternoon and evening audiences, recording, checking, glancing sidelong at the other moviegoers beside us.  And a surprising detail immediately jumps out. People thoroughly have fun in the scariest sequences. There is laughter after 25 minutes when the mother goes to rummage in the attic, laughter when the little girl urinates on the carpet (35th minute), some fanning of faces with newspapers when the possessed young girl visits a clinic (45th minute), laughter after an hour when the hypnotist arrives, when she turns her head 180 degrees (75th minute), and when she vomits yellow on the priest’s glasses (almost at the end). Just as the lights come back on, a weak applause breaks out, and it’s not clear if it’s for the actors, the director, or the entertaining old devil.

Finally, the interpretation and commentary follow:

And in this last case, there is a ready explanation. People from Milan spend a billion lire a month, thirty [page 198] million a day, on sorcerers, witches, and witch doctors: these things are well understood. But, at this point, only some of the comments the reporters scramble to record are characterized with great satisfaction. Indeed, there is the mature gentleman who dismisses the film, defining it with an unpublishable adjective in harmony with the film’s dialogue: “a jumble of key scenes—he says—to entertain idiots.” And there are youngsters of both the new and old left who take issue with Nixon and Ford’s America, where “people must have very empty heads to be shocked by these antics.” 

From the news for the city of Milan, we move to the capital: “Fainting in Rome ... Crowds, windows shattered at the Maestoso, and during the screening hysterics from some impressionable spectators. One newspaper reports more than forty fainting fits, more men (who silently collapsed) than women (who felt faint after having screamed with fear).”

Angelo Falvo instead supplies a summary: “It’s Beelzebub Superstar: How the Film of the Moment Was Born and What It’s Like” divided into several points that also offer significant comments:

The Devil: The Exorcist, in addition to its colossal success, has also had considerable theological support. The Film: the film suffers from the mediocrity of the book. There is no investigation into these paranormal phenomena; everything is superficial and rushed (the death of the old priest, the suicide of the young one who offers himself to the devil); in short: after Jesus Christ Superstar, here is “Beelzebub Superstar.” ... The Actors: Linda Blair, the girl (“adult hands” were used in the crucifix scene), is amazingly talented. Max von Sydow ... confessed: “I don’t believe in it.” (“Scheda”)

On the same page, there is an interview with Emma Pereira De Souza, “a young psychology specialist with a practice in Milan,” because “her opinion on The Exorcist seems a competent one.” It is as follows: “the only new fact is this: The Exorcist will trigger some questions for the man on the street. ... [page 199] These things happen in Milan, too” (“Una maga”). A short article notes that it was “a difficult dubbing process” for the part of the possessed child, and the accompanying photo and text are dedicated to Stella Carnacina, the protagonist of the film L’ossessa, a film announced by the production company’s press agents as “the Italian answer to The Exorcist.” 

In his review, “Dramatic Effects of an Out-of-Fashion Beelzebub,” Giovanni Grazzini places the film in the “drama” category and provides a summary that leads to an interpretation of the finale.6 His verdict is not flattering, but the focus remains on the public: 

We didn’t faint, and none of us vomited. A childish film and irritating for its total lack of imagination. The audience is once again the victim, just as in the case of The Godfather, of a massive advertising campaign that has had as an involuntary accomplice, the media. This has created a hysterical wait for a film that should already be a triumph, thanks to the recent trendiness of witchcraft. Instead, the film, made without overly great means, is just a soup of ancient special effects that amaze an audience of little culture and imbalanced nerves. ... Why do we say that The Exorcist lacks imagination? Precisely because Beelzebub, incarnated in an innocent child, reflects the most decrepit satanic models, which continues a tradition that sees evil only in crime, blasphemous behavior, obscenity, and offense to the Mother. The author of the novel the film is based on, William Peter Blatty, and the director of the film William Friedkin, do not for a moment consider that the Devil, today, has updated himself and rather than in the body of a little girl, lives instead in the body of all of society. The theatrical effects they sought are medieval, in line with the values of a regressive Catholicism, and perhaps even distasteful to the Pope. When Regan, with her twisted head, lifts furniture, vomits pistachio, inserts the crucifix into her womb, insults her poor mother, and with superhuman strength [page 200] throws people out of the window, the public is consigned to the dark ages. And the drama of the young priest [... represents a] desperate attempt to give a minimum of psychological depth to a story of the railway comics variety or meant for ladies of delicate character. The anxieties of our time and our search for the absolute are expressed in very different ways. The Exorcist is a repellent film, not for the predictable, disgusting things you see, but for the reactionary ideology and contempt for the audience that guides it. Well-crafted suspense barely saves the first part: everything else confirms that the progress of cinematographic technique is measured by the willingness of large audiences to indulge their fears. (“L’Esorcista”)

In a paragraph on the same page, Renato Palazzi also provides a detailed account of the day of The Exorcist’s debut in Milan: 

A real field day, with at least three theatres holding first showings and attracting large audiences, according to estimates. Four months of advertising hype have borne fruit. The day, which seemed to begin quietly, concluded in an authentic carnival of fanaticism, with crowds at box offices and bivouacs in corridors between the seats. The first clusters of people formed in front of the theatre Manzoni around 14.15, but the influx of people progressed steadily, and when the lights went out, there were still numerous empty seats. The entrance was orderly, despite longer queues, at the Tonale, where the show’s start saw the eight hundred seats filled. The audience, composed of residents, was somewhat different from that of the center: families, older ladies on their own, mothers with young daughters, and pensioners. Order and composure at the Apollo box office, where the theatre was barely filled with around a thousand people. 

The evening screening, however, attracts more people: 

Then, at the evening screening, a collective frenzy explodes. At the Apollo, at a quarter past ten, the [page 201] audience members for the last screening were already all standing as many continued to enter. At the Tonale, the queue spilled out onto the road, orderly but rather packed. At the Manzoni, to regulate the flood of people, there was police intervention, albeit as a precautionary measure, was even necessary. The standing audience almost seemed bigger than the seated one. With the increase of spectators, emotions heated up: it was even necessary, in the case of one spectator, to call an ambulance. A record-breaking number of tickets was sold. (“Ha incassato”)

Analysis of the Journalistic Treatment of The Exorcist

From an examination of these news stories, certain factors emerge that distinguish the Italian reporting of The Exorcist over the following decade. From a formal point of view, two trends are revealed: the first treats the film in ironic and sarcastic terms, even demeaning ones; the second tends towards the dissection of the more shocking sequences of the film, through detailed explanations of the plot (with spoilers) and of the special effects. When taken as a whole, these two attitudes seem to reflect a strategy aimed at exorcizing fear associated with a direct confrontation, that is, mitigating the fear caused by watching such a powerful cinematic product without cultural or technical mediation.

From a substantive point of view, a series of new elements emerges that will later become entrenched in the journalistic memory of this film: a) the massive advertising campaign, b) the economic mobilization: the expenses7 and the film’s profits, c) the methods by which the “possession” was represented: the young protagonist, the vomit, the obscene propositions and the blasphemous acts,8 d) the fruitful nature of the “format”: sequels,9 parodies10, and re-screenings, e) the use of special effects,11 f) the commercial success:12 an award-winning film and popular with audiences,13 g) the enduring fame and notoriety that reflected on all the protagonists of the saga: [page 202] author,14 producers,15 directors,16 actors,17 distributors, musicians, special-effect artists (Cervone), make-up artists (Grassi, “Duelli”), and voice actors (Porro, “Bertolucci”).

The Film’s Structure in the Italian Imaginary

Over time, The Exorcist has become an iconic film that serves as a point of reference and as a point of comparison both for critics and other authors. In just a few years, the film’s scenes became the heritage of the collective imagination, so much so that they are quoted easily, even in very different contexts. 

As in the case of the dramatic episode from the news that involved a twenty-two-year-old from Nicotera, Reggio Calabria, who “like the exorcist threw herself into nothingness and is in a critical condition” the film influences, without a doubt, the interpretation of similar stories in the news—becoming a key cultural reference—as in the case of Alessandria, a woman who was supposedly seduced, then beaten, by Satan (“Sono posseduta”). Falvo comments on this story in ironic tones: 

The Devil, then, exists. Some time ago, its presence would have been reported by the highest post in the Vatican. But we are too skeptical. ... And then, we’ve seen The Exorcist where Satan enters a girl’s body and forces her to say profanities and vomit pea soup. But it could have also been an invention. And here, instead, the Devil has descended into the Po Valley. ... Of course, he entered a house in Alessandria. He didn’t imitate his American colleague from The Exorcist. ... Maybe, before crossing the Alps, he stopped in Paris and had a look at the Histoire d’O. ... In short, the Devil keeps up to date. (“Marito”)

Luigi Giliberto follows up on the story the next day, informing us that the Devil that had appeared wasn’t “exactly the one from the film The Exorcist. Maybe Dostoevsky’s Demons.” 

In addition, exorcists are often referenced in relation to football, regarding different teams. In Nino Petrone’s article [page 203] “Exorcist for Rocco,” the reference is clever: for A.C. Milan, a priest has arrived who is as “mysterious and fascinating as the protagonist of The Exorcist.” In “The World of Art, The Masterpiece Returns to the Halls of the Pinacoteca Vaticana: Raphael’s Transfiguration Transfigured,” similarly, the comparison appears regarding an image by Raphael: “making the Devil despair and whine (a bit like the protagonist of The Exorcist, to be clear to even the lowest levels, when the cross compels her)” (“Il mondo”). 

Leonardo Vergani, in “Father Killed by Fifteen-Year-Old Son Tired of Paternal Abuse: Love Potions and Gunshots in Lomazzo,” reports the words spoken by the sister of the unfortunate boy that describe the state of the mother, presumably under the effect of drugs: “‘She seemed a character from one of those films,’” and the author comments, “Maybe Rachele is thinking of The Exorcist.

Or even, “if you had dived into the [Adriatic] sea, suddenly, you would have seen that the foam was no longer white, but green, and thick, and recalled ... the vomit of the girl possessed by the Devil in The Exorcist,” according to Falvo, referring to a 1976 phenomenon caused by drainage that fertilized algae, in “How Are the Beaches for Our Holiday? Look! The Sea’s Blue, It Looks Like It Used To” (“Come stanno”).

The Impact of the Film’s Reception:  Generalizations and “References”

The Exorcist marks the start of a new chapter in cinema history. Over the decade following its debut, journalists talk about the film in terms of the series it spawns and which they identify as a particularly Italian category. When reviewing L’ossessa (The Eerie Midnight Horror Show, Italy, Mario Gariazzo, 1974), Palazzi references these exorcists all’italiana (“Falso candore”); Occhiuzzi titles an article “Let’s Go to the Cinema in New York: Still Sharks and Exorcisms” (“Andiamo”); Maurizio Bertè references “the terrifying films in the series started by The Exorcist,” and we then come across the [page 204] comment that “there is no sign of the fashion for demonic films diminishing” (“Più di mezzo”) and the news that, in India, films “like The Exorcist” have been banned (“Il ‘drink’”). Finally, “the underappreciated Audrey Rose by Wise ... ennobles the grand-daughters of The Exorcist” (“Paura’”). An awareness of the watershed event of the film emerges in Grassi’s reflections in “Voyage in the Dream Factory,” in which she refers to “Materials from the “machine” that hadn’t yet birthed exorcists” (“Viaggio”). An indication of the steady progress of The Exorcist into the Italian imaginary is evident in the use of similar generalizations: “as in any exorcist, Grazzini says (“Schizofrenia”), while according to Palazzi, “la Tanzi” (the actor Lia Tanzi), when reciting Shakespeare, “speaks like the women possessed in the Italian reinterpretations of The Exorcist” (“Sognando”).

During the same decade, apart from the sequels and parodies, a number of articles cite The Exorcist in general news reporting, since they recognize generic consonances or references to elements of the film or its peculiar history. Maurizio Porro, reviewing Cagliostro by Daniele Pettinari, comments: “The film is not lacking, in honor of The Exorcist, a bit of whitish drool” (“Cagliostro”), while Carlo Brusati, on the evening of the 1975 Oscars, notes in the byline to his article that “there may be a last-minute surprise, as was the case last year with The Exorcist, which was resoundingly beaten, despite predictions.” 

Palazzi, when reviewing Fear Over the City (Henri Verneuil, France, 1975), writes that “the film ... draws ... on The Exorcist without any ironic detachment” (“Demonio”). Palazzi, again returning to The Exorcist, supplies this description of a film’s reception: “Standing audience, huge crowds at the box office, long lines of umbrellas that unravel onto the sidewalk. ... The spectacle, not unusual, didn’t, however, happen for a ‘blockbuster’ destined to inaugurate a new, successful series, like the neo-satanic Exorcist, but rather for a [Bruce Lee] biopic” (“L’ambiguo”). Grassi, recalling Mario and Ennio Longardi, states that “their last extremely successful venture [page 205] was the launch of The Exorcist in Italy,” when in 1975 the brothers declared that “we are sure that the new [Mel] Brooks film will be the film of the year, it will surpass The Exorcist, Young Frankenstein [1974] is, at the same time, both a modern and historical Exorcist” (“La Loren”).

Serafin warns, “Pregnant women are advised, as was the case last year with The Exorcist, to refrain from watching the film Jaws [1975], directed by Steven Spielberg” (“Uno squalo”). Dario Fertilio notes that “the authors of Earthquake [Mark Robson, USA, 1974] and The Exorcist put together, earned less than ... Peter Benchley, author of the book [Jaws, 1974], who maintains that in his case, it’s impossible to talk about ‘a trend of terror: nobody really believes the Devil possesses them. Sharks, on the other, are an everyday reality.’”

In Black Exorcist,” a negative review of Abby (William Girdler, USA, 1974), Leonardo Autera explains that “The Exorcist, last season’s box office hit, now has a version particularly aimed at an audience of color in the United States ... in line with the arsenal of this kind of bambocciades” (“Esorcista”). For Falvo, it is “Incredibly clumsy and, in comparison, The Exorcist towers over it like a masterpiece” (“Lollo”). Grassi expresses this opinion on the film: “It is interesting for just one reason: it represents the typical example of the low-budget film, copied from a successful model (in this case, The Exorcist), entirely performed by actors of color” (“Caccia”). Then, with the screening of The Godfather Part II (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1974) “it seems we have returned to the times of The Exorcist,” at least regarding the endless lines, photographers, and sold-out tickets at cinemas in Milan (Sotis).

Guido Credazzi, in “The Devil isn’t Private Property,” followed the outcome of the appeal against L’Anticristo (The Antichrist, a.k.a. The Tempter, Alberto De Martino, Italy, 1975). According to the Warner Bros. lawyers, the film was “a true copy of The Exorcist,” copying its “original dramatic models.” However, “the most famous living demonologist, Monsignor Corrado Balducci,” when called to testify, demonstrated [page 206] that an exorcist may only behave in a certain way, “precisely the one used in the famous American film, and also reused in the Italian film,” and as such, “the request for the withdrawal of the film was rejected” (“Respinta”). Nevertheless, Giovanna Grassi argues, “The Antichrist owes a great debt to The Exorcist” (“Esorcismo”).

Next, it was Dario Argento’s Profondo Rosso’s (Deep Red, Italy, 1975) turn to be compared to The Exorcist (“58 cinema”); and Grassi mentions the “domestic exorcist” movie Return of the Exorcist (Un urlo dalle tenebre, Elio Pannacciò, Italy, 1975): “This national, petty bourgeois plague of The Exorcist is a vulgar and pretentious product” (“Esorcista”). Falvo reviews The Omen (Richard Donner, USA, 1976) as follows: “In my opinion, there is no doubt the director ... wanted to make a film that sits somewhere between Rosemary’s Baby [Roman Polanski, USA, 1968] and The Exorcist.” He reminds us that the Devil “the other day, was again a cause for concern for the pope (the Devil has put its tail into the disintegration of the Catholic world),” and the same evening Giulio Andreotti echoed him: “I believe in the Devil, even if at times his incarnations are not easily recognizable” (Falvo, “L’Anticristo”). It would later be said that “the film, on the back of the success of The Exorcist, received enormous popular acclaim in the United States, leading at the box office for weeks” (Grassi, “Un diavolo”).

Regarding Crash! (Charles Band, USA, 1976), Porro notes: “There’s Sue Lyon (the former Lolita) whose eyes burn like in The Exorcist” (“La vendetta”). I Don’t Want to Be Born (Peter Sasdy, UK, 1975) is said to be “in part taken from Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and in part from Friedkin’s The Exorcist” (Autera, “Un baby”). According to Grazzini, in The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, USA/UK, 1980), “little Danny Lloyd seems, you must pardon us, a sort of drooling, inelegant Topo Gigio who has seen The Exorcist” (“Quando”). In his review of The Awakening (Mike Newell, UK, 1979), Autera states that the “echoes of recent horror films such as The Exorcist are fused,” returning to “the figure of the adolescent possessed by a dia-[page 207]bolic being” (“Non risvegliate”). Regarding Devil’s Rain (Robert Fuest, USA, 1975), Falvo emphasizes that the story is “conceived in the wake of The Exorcist’s success” (“Il Maligno”). Grassi writes, of Graham Baker’s The Final Conflict (USA, 1981), “Hollywood continues to hang out at the Devil’s house and give birth to The Exorcist’s profitable children” (“Fatti”).

Autera additionally authored an extremely negative review of The Boogeyman (Ulli Lommel, USA 1980) that includes this reference: “recourse, without results, to a priest exorcist (just to reference Friedkin’s famous film)” (“Guai”). Meanwhile, referring to the film Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper, USA, 1975), Serafin noted that “essentially, we are in the vicinity of The Exorcist, but of even poorer quality” (“Bellocchio”). Finally, Grassi reports that Tregenda’s first film Cutnight (Giovanni Pedde-Lay, Italy, 1986), according to the director, “is explicitly inspired by William Friedkin’s The Exorcist” (“Il nostro”).

The Historical Evolution of Critical Perspectives

The first critique that The Exorcist received, ten months after the Italian release, is positive, disappointed, but also humorous; author Umberto Simonetta, who edits an amusing little dictionary of current ideas for the newspaper, writes, “Exorcist (The)—Wonderful film, however, also repulsive due to the repeated scenes in which the little girl vomits green cream (pistachio ice cream perhaps?). In the United States, seventy percent of the spectators fainted. Taking the opportunity to compare American and Italian audiences, we might argue that we are savvier.”

After a few days, in “Observations on Last Season’s Highest Grossing Films: Thrill Grosses More Than Sex,” we find articulate commentary, once again by Grazzini, on the latest statistics regarding the film. He tells us that The Exorcist was the highest-grossing film of the last season, the third time, after The Sting (George Roy Hill, USA, 1973) and The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, USA, 1972) that a Hollywood film is at the top of the Italian charts: [page 208]

Suppose the three films had such a positive impact on the spectator. In that case, no surge of national pride could stop us from being satisfied with these results: cinema is an international language, and we don’t look at the passport of those films that enrich taste, conscience, and cultural heritage. Instead, as it happens, these three films haven’t made any relevant contribution to the refinement of the audience’s sensibility or brought any nourishing news. 

The judgment isn’t particularly flattering towards either the film or the contemporary socio-cultural context: 

Of everything, The Exorcist is the least likable: a reactionary, poor film (or: birbonata) that, not by chance, is most appreciated in Southern Italy, where the fashion, spread by a crisis of reason, has been to return to magical practices, reinforced by an openness to superstition perpetually fueled by industrial under-development. The primary reason for these choices is the passionate character of the Italian audience (although perhaps not just the Italian one), which often is a pliable instrument of manipulation in the hands of those who trust in its limited ability to apply the essential spirit of criticism. 

In the film’s earnings, the critic sees “the results of a gigantic operation to manipulate public consensus that, starting from across the Atlantic,” which has found a source of energy “in the distrust derived from cultural poverty, towards thoughtful, tasteful films.” He identifies two reasons: 

The first incentive channels the desire for strong sensations, typical of amorphous masses, in America and the colonies; this desire is met by the grisly and by witchcraft, providing respite from the boredom of a standardized life. The second, motivated simply by economic profit, is inherent in the part of the industrial and commercial structure that contributes to the spiral of the increase in production costs with films for mass consumption, therefore often of mediocre quality and conformist ideological and artistic design. [page 209]

And, “the proliferation of these deadly effects is, due to a phenomenon of refraction, the same mass media,” which does not act as a filter for the “intolerance of the weak for reasoning” (“Osservazioni”).

On the other hand, the Milanese association of arthouse cinema viewers complained that their scheduling was interrupted “by screenings, albeit occasionally, of films like The Exorcist” (Serafin, “Ma i film”). From the caption to “Hollywood Has Established a Trend of Infernal films: There’s a New divo: The Devil,” we learn that “Linda Blair, the possessed girl from The Exorcist, has triggered a trend of diabolical films: now, in the wake of the first film’s success, she’ll star in The Exorcist, part two.” Serafin writes that Warner Bros. has scheduled twelve films in the same genre, and this is due, according to Variety, to the “100 million dollars grossed by Warner Bros,” and reminds us that

There is also an explanation provided by scholars of mass psychology, according to which many Americans are convincing themselves that the anxieties and complexes of our age have their roots in the occult. Many realized from the film’s release that this “couldn’t be considered a passing fad.” A flood of requests for exorcisms has swept the United States. Dozens of surveys published by weeklies highlight that the occult has returned with a vengeance, above all in developed countries, with black masses, diabolic evocations, orgiastic cults, and most importantly, with an impressive revenue of which cinema represents a considerable share (“Hollywood”).

In “The Church’s Position: It Was Paul VI Who Revived Satan,” Roberto Denti argues that

It was Paul VI who revived the Devil with a disconcerting and unexpected speech at the end of 1972. Then a year and a half later, on a completely different level, the film The Exorcist. Since then, Satan has skipped over from the Middle Ages, where official culture had left him (certainly not superstition and popular beliefs, [page 210] however) to the twentieth century, returning to be a contemporary figure. … In Italy, those possessed by Satan would number at least ten thousand. 

In 1979, Grassi writes, in “Genre Lessons That American Cinema Has Taught Us”: “Indeed, in the current Italian arena, spectators in front of the possessed twelve-year-old won’t scream, won’t faint, won’t vomit. But maybe, as happened at the cinemas in 22 American cities, after the film’s distribution, they will endure long queues to get to know, on a commercial scale, the Devil” (“La droga”). Valerio Guslandi, combining the two films The Exorcist and Exorcist II: The Heretic in his introduction, recognizes in the first a “huge success, thanks as to a skillful advertising campaign and Friedkin’s ability in creating a story of glacial tension, with unusual effects to render the diabolical possession explicit.” Grassi confirms the triumph: “Over six million copies of the book [Blatty’s The Exorcist] have been sold in the United States, and the film has opened up a trend that has been thoroughly exploited, in every which way” (“Nuovo”).

Ten years later, the presentation of  evening television programming carefully avoids spoilers for the film: 

The director Friedkin ... decided in 1973 to seize a best-selling novel and to transfer it into a film, breathing new life into the field of horror cinema, to the demonic genre. ... We won’t reveal what happens to those who still haven’t seen the film (a blockbuster worldwide). We’ll limit ourselves to saying that this is a film for strong stomachs; the director has left no stone unturned when trying to overwhelm the spectator with sequences of great impact (though repulsive, at times). (Porro, “‘Alien’”)

Even when the film returned to US theaters after twenty-seven years, it drew attention: “it earned 18 billion [lire] in a single weekend,” writes Alessandra Farkas, a correspondent from New York:

America is once again going crazy for The Exorcist. ... “A phenomenon without precedents,” comments Dan [page 211] Felman, head of distribution at Warner Bros., “a film this old has never grossed this much the second time round.” When the film ... came out, ... America was bewitched. “It wasn’t just an event of the Christmas season,” explains critic Terrence Rafferty, “but also a pop-culture phenomenon that accompanied the last days of the Nixon presidency.” In the expulsion of the demon from the body of the twelve-year-old, “possessed” Regan, many saw the metaphor of a nation anxious to evict the “diabolical” Watergate scandal president from the White House. But while the media at the time spoke of audiences “in the grip of vomiting crises, collective hysteria, and fainting” in front of this “blasphemous and obscene film,” no incident occurred amongst the audience in 2000. “Horror is the bread and butter of contemporary culture,” theorizes the New York Times, “our tolerance for the gory and obscene is infinitely greater than it was 30 years ago.” When reviewing the “new Exorcist,” critics displayed deference reserved for the classics.

In “The Exorcist Becomes a Saga,” Giuseppina Manin uses an ironic and good-natured tone to announce that “The Exorcist 4” (released as Exorcist: The Beginning [Paul Schrader, USA, 2004] and originally to be directed by John Frankenheimer), dubbed as the prequel of the “cult film,” part of “that classic horror saga,” of which the “progenitor film” was awarded an Oscar for best screenplay: “A milestone of horror cinema, even subject to an all-Italian parody, ... the Exorcist continues to terrify us with its horrors. For which, apparently, we are hungry given that, back in theatres last year, the ‘first film’ immediately returned to its blockbuster status, here and in America” (Manin). Later, the VHS of the 2000 uncut Exorcist was sold with the Corriere della Sera, and the author of that paragraph again reminds us that the film won an Oscar and was “a milestone of horror films (with countless imitation attempts and two official sequels)” (“Watergate”). Maurizio Porro wrote, for the occasion, a very positive review: “It was a corner-[page 212]stone of shock cinema, that became a subject in its own right and resulted in a case of mass sociology.” He further specifies that “horror will be dated pre- or post-Exorcist” (“I nuovi”).

In “Hollywood, The Business of Horror, and The Exorcist Start Up Again,” Grassi provides an update that “the production has started on the long-awaited Exorcist: The Beginning, the prequel of one of the most-watched films of its genre, ... the collective imaginary consumes both b-movies ... and classics such as ... The Exorcist” and reports that, according to Variety, The Exorcist is the highest grossing film in the history of American cinema (“Hollywood”). Grassi additionally wrote “A New Exorcist: Chills in Two Versions. Schrader’s Film (Rejected by Producers) Will Be Released Directly to DVD. In the Cinemas the Same Story, Filmed by Another Director [i.e., Renny Harlin]),” where, in light of the “Fourth Chapter,” steps are retraced, and the first film assumes the title of “masterpiece” in its own right (“Nuovo”).

So, when the book’s new Italian edition, from Fazi Editore, was published, it was noted that the film “received ten Oscar nominations and won two awards, best sound, and best screenplay” (“L’esorcista’”). Grassi also interviewed Geena Davis, who plays the protagonist of Jeremy Slater’s The Exorcist, the television version of “that which many, even today, consider the horror film: The Exorcist, masterpiece of the director of Evil, William Friedkin.” The actor argued: “And, yes, it’s scary, like the films at the time, which had an important cultural impact: after seeing it, I was even afraid that there were demons under my bed” (“La signora”).

Jessica Chia reported that William Peter Blatty died in 2017: “Addio Blatty, fu lui il vero padre dell’Esorcista” with the subheading “The Film … Masterpiece of the Horror Genre.” William Friedkin, who broke the news, is identified as the director of “the now legendary film.” Stephen King also salutes the author of the “best horror novel of all time” and wrote that “the film was an experience. Fainting in theatres, crowds at the box offices. It deeply disturbed audiences with its image of Evil embodied in the twelve-year-old Regan.” [page 213]

The film received a recent hallowing, in terms of cultural impact, in the article “Exorcists to the Rescue: Rare in the Middle Ages, Rites against Demons Have Been Back in Fashion for a Few Decades” by Paolo Mieli, with reference to “The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, published in 1971, and then a film directed by William Friedkin, released in 1973, adapted from Blatty’s text,” and explains, “ After the book, and especially after the film, the exorcistic practice began to spread again.” Finally, a sequel trilogy was announced in 2020, has been announced and the first of these  films, Exorcist: Believer, directed by David Gordon Green, produced by Blumhouse Productions, and distributed by Universal Pictures, was released in October 2023, a sign that the legend continues.

As only occurs with classics, the film The Exorcist encourages conversation, and through that conversation, we are able to engage with key issues of the time. Some critics, realizing the impact the film had on the masses, tried to oppose it in the name of the pedagogical function claimed by intellectuals in relation to society, making efforts that, in hindsight, seem vain and reactionary. The facts remain that, over the course of the past fifty years, we have borne witness to an interesting phenomenon: an evolution of the criticism of the film, based on the historical and political moment in which its “reception” is situated. In short, the interpretations “have aged,” but not the film. 


All translations from Italian to English are authorial; when article titles are given in English, the citations correspond with the Works Cited entries, with titles in Italian.

Works Cited

“58 cinema a New York per Dario Argento.” Corriere della Sera, 15 June 1976, p. 11.

Archivio PRO.

Argentieri, Benedetta. “Il regista dell’Esorcista: città ostaggio della violenza.” Corriere della Sera, 30 June 2007, p. 6.

Autera, Leonardo. “Esorcista negro.” Corriere della Sera, 15 Aug. 1975, p. 11.

---. “Guai a infrangere quello specchio.” Corriere della Sera, 21 Aug. 1982, p. 17.

---. “Non risvegliate la Faraona.” Corriere della Sera, 5 Feb. 1981, p. 27.

---. “Un baby terribile.” Corriere della Sera, 17 June 1979, p. 14.

Bertè, Maurizio. “Alla riscossa le mini-dive acqua e sapone.” Corriere della Sera, 5 Aug. 1977, p. 12.

Bocchi, Lorenzo. “Parigi.” Corriere della Sera, 17 Sept. 1974, p. 15.

Brusati, Carlo. “Una nonna con licenza di sedurre.” Corriere della Sera, 8 Apr. 1975, p. 3.

Cervone, Paolo. “Un lupo mannaro.” Corriere della Sera, 15 Dec. 1981, p. 21.

Chia, Jessica. “Addio Blatty, fu lui il vero padre dell’Esorcista.” Corriere della Sera, 14 Jan. 2017, p. 47.

“Contratto fiabesco per Pelé in USA.” Corriere della Sera, 5 June 1975, p. 18.

Credazzi, Guido. “Il diavolo non è proprietà privata.” Corriere della Sera, 10 Nov. 1975, p. 2.

Denti, Roberto. “La posizione della Chiesa, È stato Paolo VI a rilanciare Satana.” Corriere della Sera, 18 Mar. 1977, p. 9.

Falvo, Angelo. “Come stanno le spiagge delle nostre ferie: Toh, il mare è azzurro sembra quello di una volta.” Corriere della Sera, 1 July 1977, p. 3.

---. “Il Maligno nel West.” Corriere della Sera, 19 Aug. 1981, p. 12.

---. “L’Anticristo è un bimbo biondo.” Corriere della Sera, 15 Oct. 1976, p. 15.

---. “Lollo a sorpresa per i milanesi rimasti in città.” Corriere della Sera, 18 Aug. 1975, p. 13.

---. “Marito mio, ti ho fatto le corna con il diavolo.” Corriere della Sera, 26 Sept. 1975, p. 2.

---. “Scheda: È Belzebù Superstar: Come è nato e com’è il film del momento.” Corriere della sera, 21 Sept. 1974, p. 6. [page 217]

Farkas, Alessandra. “L’Esorcista, successo 27 anni dopo: Esce negli Usa il celebre film con 11 minuti in più e vola in testa agli incassi.” Corriere della Sera, 26 Sept. 2000, p. 35.

Fertilio, Dario. “Ho battuto ‘Via col Vento.’” Corriere della Sera, 2 Dec. 1975, p. 7.

Galimberti, Carlo. “Petacco da ‘Petrosino’ al ‘Triangolo del diavolo.’” Corriere della Sera, 19 Aug. 1975, p. 11.

Gervaso, Roberto. Corriere della Sera, 25 Oct. 1972, p. 3.

“Già si fa la parodia al film ‘L’esorcista.’” Corriere della Sera, 26 Feb. 1974, p. 13.

Giliberto, Luigi. Corriere della Sera, 27 Sept. 1975, p. 10.

Gorlier, Claudio. “Preceduto da un massiccio ‘battage’ pubblicitario arriva in Italia L’Esorcista: Il Diavolo come distrazione.” Corriere della Sera, 17 Sept. 1974, p. 15.

Grassi, Giovanna. “Caccia al Maligno.” Corriere della Sera, 23 June 1983, p. 22.

---. “Duelli mortali a colpi di mente.” Corriere della Sera, 3 May 1982, p. 20.

---. “Esorcismo, horror e fantascienza sulla scia dei successi americani.” Corriere della Sera, 30 Aug. 1980, p. 14.

---. “Esorcista casalingo.” Corriere della Sera, 5 Jul 1976, p. 13.

---. “Fatti e misfatti dell’Anticristo.” Corriere della Sera, 22 Aug. 1981, p. 13.

---. “Hollywood, affari horror e riparte L’Esorcista.” Corriere della Sera, 9 Nov. 2002, p. 39.

---. “Il nostro è un cinema da tregenda.” Corriere della Sera, 3 Jan. 1987, p. 30.

---. “La droga e il diavolo.” Corriere della Sera, 31 Aug. 1979, p. 19.

---. “La Loren del 1975 si chiama Frankenstein.” Corriere della Sera, 9 May 1975, p. 3.

---. “La signora dell’horror: Il profilo.” Corriere della Sera, 1 Oct. 2016, p. 54.

---. “La violenza nel paesaggio della natura e della città.” Corriere della Sera, 3 Sept. 1981, p. 19.

---. “Nuovo Esorcista, brividi in due versioni.” Corriere della Sera, 11 Aug. 2004, p. 37.

---. “Stasera a ‘Massenzio al Massimo,’ Brividi, e un po’ di tenerezza.” Corriere della Sera, 4 Aug. 1982, p. 17.

---. “Un diavolo affarista e ambasciatore fra maledizioni, orrori ed esorcismi.” Corriere della Sera, 19 Aug. 1982, p. 16.

---. “Viaggio nella fabbrica dei sogni.” Corriere della Sera, 27 Dec. 1979, p. 15.

Grazzini, Giovanni. “Al Pacino poliziotto tra i ‘gay.’” Corriere della Sera, 1 Nov. 1980, p. 19.

---. “Alice vagabonda.” Corriere della Sera, 25 May 1975, p. 20.

---. “Con la banda scalcinata la rapina è fortunata.” Corriere della Sera, 22 Feb. 1980, p. 21. [page 218]

---. “EsorCiccio Ingrassia.” Corriere della Sera, 19 Mar. 1975, p. 16.

---. “L’Esorcista: effetti plateali di un Belzebù fuori moda.” Corriere della Sera, 21 Sept. 1974, p. 13.

---. “Leoni fotogenici.” Corriere della Sera, 24 Dec. 1981, p. 27.

---. “Osservazioni sui maggiori incassi dei film dell’ultima stagione, L’emozione fa più cassetta del sesso.” Corriere della Sera, 17 Jul. 1975, p. 3.

---. “Quando la mente partorisce mostri e l’uomo è assediato dagli spettri.” Corriere della Sera, 23 Dec. 1980, p. 15.

---. “Schizofrenia totale.” Corriere della Sera, 26 July 1980, p. 18.

Guslandi, Valerio. “23 ragioni per credere all’incredibile.” Corriere della Sera, 9 June 1981, p. 15.

“Il ‘drink’ sullo schermo vietato in India.” Corriere della Sera, 18 Apr 1979, p. 23.

“Il mondo dell’Arte, Il capolavoro torna nelle sale della pinacoteca vaticana: La Trasfigurazione di Raffaello trasfigurata.” Corriere della Sera, 31 Jan. 1977, p. 7.

“La Moreau ha sposato l’esorcista.” Corriere della Sera, 9 Feb. 1977, p. 13.

“La Trama.” Corriere della Sera, 6 Feb. 1974, p. 5.

“‘L’esorcista,’ il libro e il film senza tagli.” 27 July 2009, p. 7.

Maletto, Gian Mario. “Diabolici incidenti sul set. Incendi, disgrazie, morti durante la lavorazione.” Corriere della Sera, 6 Feb. 1974, p. 5.

---. “Milioni di persone in coda per vederla: Isterismo e follia in America per una dodicenne indemoniata - Scene apocalittiche nei cinema dove si proietta L’Esorcista.” Corriere della Sera, 6 Feb. 1974, p. 5.

Manin, Giuseppina. “L’Esorcista diventa una saga.” Corriere della Sera, 1 Nov 2001, p. 32.

Mieli, Paolo. “Gli esorcisti alla riscossa: Rari nel Medioevo, i riti contro i demoni sono tornati in voga da alcuni decenni.” Corriere della Sera, 19 Sept. 2018, pp. 44-45.

Occhiuzzi, Franco. “Andiamo al cinema a New York. Ancora squali ed esorcismi.” Corriere della Sera, 22 June 1977, p. 15.

---. “È blindato il segreto degli ‘Oscar.’” Corriere della Sera, 8-9 Apr. 1975, p. 13.

---. “La tormentata vigilia dell’Oscar.” Corriere della Sera, 1 Apr. 1971, p. 7.

---. “Sugli schermi d’America il film L’Esorcista di Friedkin: Code e svenimenti a Nuova York per una dodicenne indemoniata.” Corriere della Sera, 1 Feb. 1974, p. 13.

Palazzi, Renato. “Demonio pittore macabro a Spoleto.” Corriere della Sera, 25 Apr. 1975, p. 14.

---. “Falso candore del qualunquismo.” Corriere della Sera, 22 Feb. 1975, p. 15. [page 219]

---. “Ha incassato più del Padrino.” Corriere della Sera, 21 Sept. 1974, p. 13.

---. “L’ambiguo richiamo del mito di Bruce Lee eroe del ‘Kung-fu.’” Corriere della Sera, 7 May 1975, p. 15.

---. “Noschese, Majakovskij, Medioevo.” Corriere della Sera, 2 Mar. 1975, p. 19.

---. “Sognando di domare la ‘Bisbetica.’” Corriere della Sera, 14 Jan. 1982, p. 22.

Pasinetti, Pier Maria. “Nuove ‘Radici’ da 18 milioni di dollari.” Corriere della Sera, 22 Feb. 1979, p. 3.

“‘Paura’ al cinema per un mese a Milano.” Corriere della Sera, 15 June 1979, p. 22.

Petrone, Nino. “Esorcista per Rocco.” Corriere della Sera, 22 Oct. 1975, p. 12.

“Più di mezzo miliardo a Liz per un ‘Carosello.’” Corriere della Sera, 12 Aug. 1977, p. 10.

Porro, Maurizio. “‘Alien’ contro ‘L’esorcista.’” Corriere della Sera, 5 Oct. 1984, p. 23.

---. “Bertolucci fra gerarchi e contadini.” Corriere della Sera, 25 Feb. 1975, p. 15.

---. “Cagliostro, di Daniele Pettinati.” Corriere della Sera, 23 Feb. 1975, p. 19.

---. “I nuovi confini dell’horror.” Corriere della Sera, 17 Oct. 2002, p. 40.

---. “La vendetta dell’antico talismano.” Corriere della Sera, 19 Aug. 1977, p. 11.

“Pronta con l’’ossessa’ una ‘risposta italiana.’” Corriere della Sera, 21 Sept. 1974, p. 6.

“Respinta la richiesta di sequestro del film ‘L’Anticristo.’” Corriere della Sera, 11 Nov. 1975, p. 7.

Serafin, Roberto. “Bellocchio, Woody Allen e ‘Poltergeist.’” Corriere della Sera, 17 Sept. 1982, p. 22.

---. “Esorcista: alle scene-madri i milanesi scoppiavano a ridere.” Corriere della Sera, 21 Sept. 1974, p. 6.

---. “Hollywood ha scoperto il filone dei film infernali, C’è un nuovo divo: il diavolo.” Corriere della Sera, 9 Nov. 1976, p. 15.

---. “La piccola imbrogliona sfida l’indemoniata.” Corriere della Sera, 30 Mar. 1974, p. 5.

---. “Ma i film d’impegno non trovano le sale.” Corriere della Sera, 14 Oct. 1975, p. 14.

---. “Uno squalo che incassa un miliardo al giorno.” Corriere della Sera, 7 Aug. 1975, p. 5.

“Settembre al cinema: ecco cosa vedremo, Arriva a Milano il film che terrorizza l’America.” Corriere della Sera, 26 Aug. 1974, p. 9.

Simonetta, Umberto. “Nella vita il denaro non è tutto.” Corriere della Sera, 15 July 1975, p. 3.

“Sono posseduta dal demonio.” Corriere della Sera, 5 Feb. 1975, p. 2. [page 220]

Sotis, Lina. “Ma questo Padrino non fa mai l’amore?” Corriere della Sera, 26 Sept. 1975, p. 15.

“Stasera film, ‘Odeon’ e Carosello-story.” Corriere della Sera, 26 Jan. 1977, p. 14.

“Torna ‘L’esorcista’: nuova trilogia horror con Ellen Burstyn.” Corriere della Sera, 28 July 2021, p. 37.

“Un ‘Compleanno’ tutto da scoprire.” Corriere della Sera, 31 July 1981, p. 13.

“Un Esorcista da 300 milioni.” Corriere dell’Informazione, 23–24 Oct 1971, p. 15.

“Un libro da 375 milioni [lire].” Corriere della Sera, 27-28 Jan. 1972, p. 11.

“Una maga lo ha visto: ‘Anche a Milano queste cose accadono.’” Corriere della Sera, 21 Sept. 1974, p. 6.

Vergani, Leonardo. “Il parricidio compiuto dal quindicenne stanco delle violenze paterne: Filtri d’amore e rivoltellate a Lomazzo.” Corriere della Sera, 17 Mar. 1977, p. 7.

“Watergate, un successo: E adesso È in arrivo ‘L’esorcista’ integrale.” Corriere della Sera, 15 Oct. 2002, p. 41.

Nadia Scippacercola holds a PhD and collaborates at the University of Naples Federico II as a Cultore della materia. At the University of Naples Federico II, she has been actively involved in research for several years. Additionally, she has achieved the ASN (National Scientific Qualification) as professore di seconda fascia in Lingua e Letteratura Latina. Her research interests range from Greek and Latin literature to the analysis of cultural horizons through the comparison of ancient worldviews with contemporary reality, as well as the examination of classical elements in modern works. Her studies have resulted in numerous scientific articles, three monographs, seminars, and papers presented at international conferences.

MLA citation (print): 

Scippacercola, Nadia. "An Account of the Birth of a Classic: From **** to a Masterpiece of Its Genre, The Rise of The Exorcist in Italy." Supernatural Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Art, Media, and Culture, vol. 9, no. 1, 2023, pp. 191-220.