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09th Oct 2023

The original Exorcist was effectively banned in Ireland until surprisingly recently

Fiona Frawley

exorcist banned ireland

Director of the new Exorcist sequel David Gordon Green was shocked to find out the original version wasn’t available here for decades.

Released in cinemas on 26 December 1973 (yeah, an odd date for a horror movie), The Exorcist went on to become an immediate commercial and critical hit.

The movie cost $12 million to produce but made over $428 million worldwide at the box office. Adjusted for current ticket price inflation, it would stand at the #9 spot for the biggest box office hits of all time.

It was also nominated for 11 Academy Awards, becoming the first horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture. It won two of those awards – Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound – and to this day The Exorcist is regularly cited as one of, if not THE, greatest horror movie ever made.

The Exorcist was banned from home entertainment in Ireland until 1998. Image via IMDB

Except in Ireland, where the movie was briefly shown on the big screen in the original version, before being retracted and edited with much of the more famously explicit scenes cut out. The movie was then banned entirely from home entertainment, completely unavailable to purchase on VHS until 1998.

William Friedkin, director of The Exorcist, had been lead to believe that the movie had been banned outright in Irish cinemas, unaware that it had been re-released in an edited form. He told the Irish Independent in 1998, upon the home banning being lifted:

“I would have opposed that. I would have preferred not to release it at all. But there is too much water under the bridge to do anything about it now. As it happens Irish audiences will be seeing it for the first time uncut when it goes out again next week.”

The Exorcist: Believer arrives in Irish cinemas on Friday 6 October.

Header images via

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