Roger Ebert perhaps said it best: "I am not sure exactly what reasons people will have for seeing this movie because it's a raw and painful experience. Are people so numb they need movies of this intensity in order to feel anything at all?" The answer was a resounding “Yes!”, since The Exorcist become one the highest grossing films of all time and the mother of all supernatural horrors. The members of the HFPA, still shocked and shivering, gave William Friedkin's thriller four Golden Globe Awards, out of seven nominations, paving the way to a legendary classic in its genre and beyond. The film, shot with an estimated budget of $12 million, grossed $232 million in the U.S. alone.
The 31st Golden Globe Awards ceremony was held on January 28, 1974, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Linda Blair (in the role of the possessed), won for Best Supporting Actress - at 13, one of the youngest Globe winners ever. The film won in the Drama section, Friedkin got his second Globe for direction (following The French Connection), and for Best Screenplay by William Peter Blatty, who adapted from his own 1971 book (based on a real 1949 story). The Exorcist prevailed that year over acclaimed films such as Last Tango in Paris, Serpico and The Day of the Jackal. Ellen Burstyn was nominated for Best Actress, but lost to Marsha Mason (for Cinderella Liberty), same for Max von Sydow (John Houseman won the Globe for The Paper Chase).
Filmed in Washington and New York, the opening sequences were filmed in and near the city of Mosul, in Iraq, and Hetra (the archaeological dig site seen at the film's beginning, also in Iraq). That's were demonic entities are unleashed, and come to possess a girl (Blair). Two priests (von Sydow and Jason Miller) try to perform the exorcism of the demonic foe. Due to death threats against Linda Blair from religious zealots who believed the film "glorified Satan", Warner Bros had bodyguards protecting the actress for six months after the film's release. There were also some security concerns before the Golden Globe ceremony, though it was aptly downplayed and nothing happened.
The Exorcist is still considered by many the scariest and one of the best horror films of all time and has had a significant influence on popular culture. Many publications rate it among the ten best films ever. The Library of Congress selected the film to be preserved as part of its National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".