The Exorcist movies in order (and where to watch them)

The Exorcist. Image Courtesy Shudder
The Exorcist. Image Courtesy Shudder /

It’s been 50 years since The Exorcist scared the living hell out of a generation of moviegoers and became what was then the highest-grossing movie of all time. It began its own legacy of scares with a variety of sequels and can be confusing to some newcomers. It even had a TV sequel spin-off as well, and while the first is the best, each of the sequels has some fans.

So, in light of its 50th anniversary and in time for a new sequel, here is each Exorcist movie in order and where you can watch them to scare things up.

The Exorcist (1973)

The one that started it all, William Friedkin’s masterpiece from William Peter Blattey’s novel, is still a stunner. Linda Blair is terrific as Regan O’Neill, the young girl possessed by a demon and moments from the vomiting to the head turning all the way around remain chilling to watch. Max Von Sydow is great as the priest trying to help her with Ellen Burstyn as her mother and the thrills and chills retain their power five decades later.

Where to watch: Max

The Exorcist Part II: The Heretic (1977)

Sadly, the much-anticipated follow-up is now recognized as one of the worst movies ever made and a huge bomb. Blair reprises her role as a now-teenaged Regan, trying to recover from her ordeal. Despite a supporting cast of Louise Fletcher and Richard Burton, the movie is a mess, a bizarre road to exploring the demon’s origins and other bits that simply don’t work. Maybe if you’re a bad film lover, you can enjoy this, but otherwise, fans prefer to imagine this sequel simply doesn’t exist.

Where to watch: Max

The Exorcist III

Written and directed by Blatty, this film had a very convoluted production, including some last-minute changes by the studio. A Director’s Cut is available on Blu-Ray, but streaming has the original theatrical cuts, with George C. Scott as a cop investigating a series of strange murders. He teams up with a priest to discover it’s tied to the same demon from the first film and tries to stop a killer who’s more than human. While a bit flawed, it does have a gritty appeal, marrying the franchise to a cop drama to make it watchable.

Where to watch: Tubi and Peacock

Exorcist: The Beginning

Okay, this is…complicated. In 2005, Paul Schrader had begun work on an Exorcist prequel, but once it was completed, Warner Bros execs were concerned it wouldn’t be commercially successful. So Renny Harlin was brought in to retool the movie into something more “exciting.” So, instead of a naturally scary thriller, it was a lot more action-oriented with a new cast. The results naturally are messy to the point you can’t find it on streaming, and so the studio just ended up blowing a few million on a bigger flop. The backstory of the movie is far more interesting than the film itself.

Where to watch: Available to buy on Amazon or DVD. 

Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist

So, as noted, Paul Schrader had her prequel movie in the can when WB executives worried it wouldn’t work. They wanted it re-edited, Schrader refused, and the entire thing was retooled. After The Beginning flopped, the studio had buyer’s remorse to talk Schrader into releasing his version in select theaters. This take is gorier but takes the search for a demon and a priest wrestling with his faith more seriously. It’s telling this version is more available to stream than the other one and how maybe it would have been better for this to be released first.

Where to watch: Peacock

So this all sets the stage for the upcoming The Exorcist: Believer, with Burstyn reprising her role from the first film and shows the wild journey this story has had.

The Exorcist: Believer premieres in theaters Friday, Oct. 6.

Next. PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie cast. dark