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Film Studies 101
The 666 Greatest Horror Characters
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10
FATHER MERRIN

Played by: Max von Sydow
Film(s): The Exorcist (1973)

Years after playing chess with Death, Max von Sydow donned a dog collar and seamless old-age make-up to play Rock Paper Scissors with the Devil himself. Father Lankester Merrin is a noble, implacable soul who, unlike Jason Miller's Damien Karras, has faced demons before, and knows how deceitful they can be. It's just a shame that his flesh isn't quite as unwavering as his spirit. Merrin is, of course, the star of the film's poster and the title itself, but - prologue aside - Merrin doesn't really show up until near the film's end and, once there, he's virtually straight into compelling Pazuzu with the power of Christ. Nevertheless, the impact von Sydow makes as Merrin cannot be overstated: just check out any Exorcist parody, and there'll always be a Merrin figure there, while Karras is often overlooked.

Father Merrin

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