HORROR IS JUST not going to work this early in the morning, I think as I fight my sleepiness on the way down to a 9:00 a.m. press screening at Cinerama. The last time I saw The Exorcist I was just a kid, and you know how it is when you revisit something that made a big impact on you as a child--it's never quite the same. But soon enough I'm cowering in my seat, sheepishly looking around the theater to see if any of my press cohorts have witnessed my childish reactions. By the time I emerge back out into the sunlight, nearly jumping out of my skin at the sight of a bridal-gowned skeleton in a Halloween-decorated store window, there's no doubt left: This movie has scared the living hell out of me--once again.

Though the re-release of The Exorcist is unlikely to leave the same mark it did in 1973--when audience members purportedly vomited and ran screaming from theaters across the globe--it is nevertheless a great excuse to see the film in a dark theater, with the surround-sound effects of a remastered soundtrack. The horror in The Exorcist was created through story pacing, character development, sound, light, makeup, and simple mechanical effects; and given all the overdone horror movies of the last several decades, it's wonderful to be reminded how deeply terrifying a film can be without the use of the latest computer-aided effects (something the success of The Blair Witch Project underscored).

The 11 minutes of additional footage in the re-release ("The Version You've Never Seen") is interspersed throughout the film, including the notorious and truly horrifying "Spider Walk," where Regan scurries backward down the stairs. Two of the restored scenes actually change the tone of the film, giving it a new spiritual depth: a conversation between the two exorcists on the meaning of Regan's possession, and a different ending. These clips provide an overall message of hope, which author William Peter Blatty says he had always intended.

As I return to work, though I still sense the adrenaline bouncing around my body, I feel strangely buoyant--as if something profoundly evil had just evaporated.