In Praise Of Linda Blair

Categories: Film

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After her Oscar-nominated turn as split-pea-soup-spewing Regan in The Exorcist, Linda Blair was catapulted into a career playing runaways, alkies, rape victims, and inmates, and she never looked back.

If she did, her drop earrings would have swung uncomfortably.

The girl was fearless in her fierce, bristling determination to elevate a lot of those films from the grindhouse, even if that proved to be its own sort of tawdry temple of appreciation.

Linda's '70s TV movies, like Born Innocent and Sarah T -- Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic, were jaw-droppingly dark depictions that were far in tone from Bedknobs and Broomsticks -- especially since in the former film she was horrifyingly raped via a broom handle!

And in the '80s, Linda really went graphic, toughing it up as the kick-ass sister of a deaf girl who's raped in the smarmy Savage Streets (1983), and taking shit but giving it back as the abused and handled but ultimately triumphant "new fish" in the relentless women-in-prison melodrama Chained Heat (1984).

In that one, prison virgin Linda gets tossed into the clink even though she only accidentally killed someone, finding herself hardened by the experience of being human chattel for everyone's pass-along abuse.

Warden John Vernon molests her ("Don't call me warden, call me Fellini!" he exults whenever he films his episodes), fellow inmate Sybil Danning demands same-sex action (obviously more for the straight male audience than for herself), and black glamazon Tamara Dobson exclaims, "Don't turn your back on me, you chalk-faced whore!"

And through it all, Linda was tough and cute and appealing and never looked embarrassed.

And why should she?

She is one of my B-movie icons -- the Meryl Streep of exploitation, the grande dame of debasement -- and I am proud of her.

And she can roller-skate, too!


P.S.: Thanks to Kenyon Phillips of the band Roma! for turning me on to Linda.


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14 comments
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Barkley
Barkley

And she did both Rick James & Rick Springfield.

Dana
Dana

No she never looked back. We were good friends as kids before and during the time when she made The Exorcist. She thought it was a lark. After the movie I don't think I ever saw her more than once or twice. She catapulted herself up and out of there.

NellieDanica
NellieDanica

Let's not forget Wes Craven's ultra-campy "Stranger In Our House" . From Linda Blair's enormous hair to her catfights with her southern cousin/possible witch played by Lee Purcell, the film is a hoot from start to end.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig

Linda often appears at the Chiller Theater convention in NJ, but unfortunately not at the one coming up in two weeks.  I saw her there a few years ago and she was very charming.  She also donated all the money she made there to an animal rights charity.

Musto
Musto

She was once at an AIDS charity event at the Roxy but wouldn't pose with the drag queens because she thought it would hurt the cause (i.e., people seeing the photos might get phobic)! I read her the riot act.

Bill Huelbig
Bill Huelbig

Linda often appears at the Chiller Theater convention, but not this upcoming one:

http://chillertheatre.com/gt/g...

I saw her there a few years ago and she was very charming.  She also donated all the money she made there to an animal rights charity.

Corsicanjoe
Corsicanjoe

Well, it's not a contest. Waters has the right to say she's not really right for him.

Devore
Devore

Why has John Waters never used her????

Gotojunkemail
Gotojunkemail

I met John and he said he never was a fan. That people often asked him why not use LInda Blair in one of his films, and he said he just doesn't get it  (her appeal) he thought she was too suburban.

Rogie
Rogie

And what has John Waters turned into since then? Linda Blair started in a Hollywood classic and moved all the way out while he started on the fringe and now churns out mild entertainment ... for the people of suburbia.

Ynnocence
Ynnocence

Can't believe I'd be having one of those "It gets better" moments on a "mere" gossip blog. All these years I thought no one else was capable of appreciating Linda Blair AFTER her Exorcist role, for daringly taking the trash-princess role rather than the art-film route that was the more obvious option for those associated with that blockbustery critics' fave.

Thank you forever, Monsieur Musto, for giving voice to the genuine freaks (like moi) who worship at La Blair's fabulously wacky altar!

Musto
Musto

Thank you, Ynnocence. Glad I'm not alone in this.

Kick
Kick

This is so much fun. You make everything magical.

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