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observation notes: Anneliese - The Exorcist Tapes

It's the film that a week ago, we didn't even know it existed, but now here it is, ready for its DVD release this coming Tuesday, the 1st of March: Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes.*

As I believe all such found-footage films - documentary or narrative - are pretty much entirely spoilers, I'm going to make these notes intentionally vague, resorting mainly to the backstory of the film and the tapes within the film, as well as my emotional responses. The biggest spoiler in all found-footage films is: "is it real?" I'm not touching that at this point. After we've all had a chance to view it and form our opinions, I'll be happy to share my stance. But for now, all I'm saying is, "watch the movie and judge for yourself." I will say that the movie begins with a disclaimer stating the footage contained therein is real, has not been doctored, and was gathered for medical purposes. So...there's that.

There are two options on the start-up menu, "Play Tapes" and "Play Documentary." I only mention this because it confused me a little bit, so I thought I'd save you similar turmoil: "tapes" is the film itself; "documentary" is the film about the film, and only runs 9 minutes. 

What is not up for debate is the veracity of the story and the girl behind the film. As I've mentioned a few times, Anneliese Michel was a German teenager in the late 1960's, early 1970's who was purported to have been possessed by demons. After undergoing approximately 70 exorcisms (accounts vary from 66 to 72), Miss Michel died from exhaustion, dehydration and near-starvation. She was 34 years old. Her parents and the priests involved in her exorcisms were charged by the state with negligent homicide in her death, and at the trial, it is an acknowledged fact that tapes depicting the exorcisms of Anneliese Michel were shown. 

No one in the general public had ever seen those tapes until, supposedly, now. 

Discovered and compiled by Jude Gerard Prest, best known in these virtual pages as the Looney-award-winning supporting actor from Mega Piranha, but also an accomplished producer**, what we have here is a first -person filmed account of the poor girl's ordeal featuring Anneliese, her parents, the priests and a small American film crew. It's 90 minutes of visceral footage, emotional interviews, frightening sights and sounds and an on-going debate within the film to mirror the one no doubt most viewers will have: is this behavior real? is this girl possessed?

In short (and vaguely), this film is a disturbing, compelling, gut-wrenching experience, rife of images that won't soon leave your nightmares. And whether the girl on the tape is Anneliese Michel or not (whoever she is, man, does she scare the shit out of me, especially her eyes), that does not change the fact that Anneliese existed, she experienced horrible things in her short life, and this film, by all reports, is an accurate depiction of those experiences. Not for the faint of heart, or the wavering in faith; you're either all in or all out, there's no straddling the subject of this one. But whatever your stance, when you watch it, leave a light on, and if you're so inclined, a prayer or two probably wouldn't hurt.

* because of the rushed nature of this release, I feel compelled to explain for the first time how I get my hands on new releases, if only to assure my readers that I am not, nor do I condone, the illegal downloading or "pirating" of films. music, sure; films: no way. I work, as I've mentioned, in a video store, meaning we get next week's new releases several days early for preparation purposes. that's how I procure early peeks.

** including a pre-production supervising producer gig on "Deadliest Warrior," one of the most awesome shows in the history of visual media.


  1. i think this is not a true footage of the real exorcism of Anneliese Michel. i want to state that Anneliese died very thin. she only wheighed 68 pounds (30.91 kg). but the girl in the film looks heavy than that of the real Anneliese.. just refer to Anneliese Michels's photos during her sufferings.

  2. its only a film, not a true documentary.

    the only, 'real,' parts were the audio recordings that were played with what I think were the Bavarian coat of arms displayed.

    the rest was fiction

  3. This is a movie. Kind of made like the Blairwich project but with bad actors. This is a movie people. Not real footage. Do some research there is the real tapes on Youtube. One note if she was possesed, how come the devil only talks (through) her about only the stuff that Annaliesse knows about from her life till then. Coming from a religious family and suffering from mental illness. If anybody doubts if a woman can make those sounds in the real tapes. How come the actress in this movie could.

  4. oh my god key element absolutely necessary for film enjoyment is the suspension of disbelief. of course it's a fucking movie; they're a movie studio. it is, however, more fun to suspend one's disbelief and just watch the movie than it is to whine about the illusion. you want reality, you probably shouldn't watch Asylum movies. sheesh. can't believe i had to actually post this...