Because nothing says “lingering religious guilt”—and a universe in which evil is real, indiscriminate, and capable of destroying our lives at a moment’s notice—like a bunch of poorly paid teenagers splashing pea soup on each other while bored families look on in simulated horror, Universal Studios has announced that it’ll be bringing William Friedkin and William Blatty’s The Exorcist to its annual “Halloween Horror Nights” event. The influential 1973 horror film will be featured in both the company’s Orlando and Hollywood locations, where Florida attendees will get to “hear, feel—and even smell—” (gross) “every iconic levitating, head-spinning, vomit-wrenching, skin-crawling moment,” while attendees at Universal Studios Hollywood will be treated to “The Exorcist Maze,” in which they’ll get to emulate the experience of the franchise’s producers, as they chase after a terrifying spectral presence known as “diminishing returns.”
Halloween Horror Nights is an institution at the theme parks, often adapting famous horror movies for the park-going public. It’s only natural, then, that Universal would eventually get around to adding The Exorcist to its line-up. Still, we can’t help but think the company’s approach is a little conservative. Why stop at a simple maze, or a recreation of the famous head-twisting scene? Why not indulge in true horror, and recreate the deeply upsetting medical testing scene from early in the first film, and its attendant feelings of a mother’s helplessness as she watches science utterly fail her daughter, who suffers from an affliction she neither believes in, nor understand? Or they could expand out into the rest of the franchise, and bring attendees something like “Whatever The Hell Richard Burton Thought He Was Up To,” or the “George C. Scott Tells You About A Carp Experience.” You know, real existential fear.