mentioned a while back, Lonely Road Books will be publishing a special
Limited Edition of
The Exorcist: The 40th Anniversary Revised Edition by William
Peter Blatty. The book sold out just 30 hours after it was
announced, which is excellent for the collectors who managed to snag a
copy, and production is moving along smoothly. In fact, today I’m
extremely pleased to unveil Caniglia’s incredible cover painting
for the book, which I absolutely love [click to enlarge]:
Caniglia is now working on the interior artwork and I’ll try to post a
few more samples between now and publication."
Secondly, well, my good old friend Jason Stringer said it all over at
www.CaptainHowdy.com - so
here is a copy and paste, and another e-plug for another good old
friend, Erik Kristopher Myers!
I’ve been running captainhowdy.com since the late 90s. From time to
time I’ve been tempted to post things not-related to The Exorcist,
things I’ve wanted to share that I thought Exorcist fans might be
Today will be the first day I actually do post something not related
to The Exorcist. I’m posting this because it deserves your attention
and captainhowdy.com can finally give back to those who have provided
for it for so long.
Those of you who have been with captainhowdy.com for many years will
recognize the name Erik Kristopher Myers. In the mid 2000s Erik
provided some fantastic insights into Exorcist III: Legion (since
removed in anticipation for his book on the subject!) and was
thoroughly involved in topics on our discussion forums. Erik also
scooped an exclusive interview with director Paul Schrader ahead of
his Exorcist prequel Dominion: A Prequel To The Exorcist being
released. A friendship was formed between he and I, and the community
as a whole started to blossom. Now, Erik, our brother, has written and
directed his first independent feature film: Roulette.
Another brother, fellow contributor and artist extraordinaire, is Mike
Garrett. He has taken the time to write this exclusive review of
Roulette and share his thoughts.
So comes a review of a new feature film from the mind of a thorough,
dedicated and brilliant Exorcist fan. I hope you’ll all take the time
to not only read the review below, but also check out the film and
support those who have supported this Exorcist site for so many years.
Jason ‘Captain Howdy’.
written and directed by Erik Kristopher Myers
Baltimore-based Erik Kristopher Myers achieved the exceedingly
difficult in these arduous, uncertain financial times. His inaugural,
$20,000 feature film Roulette plays like $2,000,000, yet stands as one
of those refreshing independent films serving a healthy meal of
substance to its audience. But that’s what you do when your life’s
aspiration is to save film studios’ money, earning an honest living as
a writer-director. With psychological drama Roulette now out of his
hands and winning the awards (i.e. World Music & Independent Film
Festival in Washington, D.C., this past August), steadfast tin soldier
Myers marches on, Billy Jack-style, and I personally can’t wait to see
what’s around the mountain.
The affable, articulate, hands-on film school grad is a rising name in
independent filmmaking and a great storyteller and writer in general,
having served, incidentally, as Editor-In-Chief at BloodyNews.com, the
defunct horror-news website which one of his idols, Paul Schrader, in
2005 chose above all others to feed insights and exclusive content for
his buried Exorcist prequel film, Dominion: Prequel To The Exorcist,
months in advance of its limited release against Star Wars: Episode
III – Revenge of the Sith. Schrader granted Myers the first-ever
exclusive interview and review for the film; it was BloodyNews’ finest
Years later, forsaking the glitz, glamor and gnashing of teeth of
basic survival in Hollywoodland, Myers remained productive on his
native east coast, getting his first cinematic feature made on his own
terms with his own loyal and talented cast and crew of varying
experience, and thanks also to friends and family, and certainly the
example of Paul Schrader et al. indie auteur rebels of decades past.
Artistically, above all else, Myers is in the filmmaking game to win
it, ever enduring the path of most resistance, having legendarily,
painstakingly reshot to better effect a major portion of Roulette
after one actress pulled a mutinous, nightmarish stunt and had to be
replaced lest the film die, incomplete. It’s no surprise, then, the
budding filmmaker previously took home a Student Festival award at
Towson for a documentary, prior to seeing Roulette get the awards for
Best Director, Best Actor (Will Haza) and Best Actress (Ali Lukowski)
at the 2011 World Music & Independent Film Festival this past August.
Pre-[r]amble aside, let’s get into the film itself, shall we?
First, the bad: N/A. Nothing of the sort made the final cut, although
it’s no secret the film is a tad lengthy. Myers and co. present a
psychological odyssey fixed in the “suicide room,” a proverbial dank
chamber where the three peers’ mutual interrogation — what first
begins as a drinking game — gradually ignites, illuminating their
shattered, broken lives to one another and to we the audience,
witnesses to every increasingly dreadful minute of what soon becomes a
game of Russian roulette.
Fortunately such an emotional roller-coaster taking this captive and
willing audience member — Yours Truly — through all those bleak,
modern realities, had the courage to show the ramifications of various
decisions made. The characters were believable, people we could very
easily know in our own lives, and Myers’ personal style in writing and
directing them comes through, established crystal-clear as I’d never
seen in his work before. Of course, this was very much a thesis
project for him, and boy did he draw from what he knew, even
stylistically in terms of horror cinema.
By most accounts, the most visceral scene, the heart-wrenching
bathroom abortion, succeeds precisely as word-of-mouth has
forebodingly advertised, making Sam Mendes‘ Revolutionary Road‘s
similar climax pale in comparison and really not even register. That
single scene, and Roulette as a whole, drain one’s mind, body and soul
for all the right reasons, and we come to actually care about the
tragic characters even more so at their worst. Poor Sunny in
particular, and even her innocent baby — virtually anonymous — we,
devastated, can’t help but care and cringe accordingly. Mendes’ film,
glamorous as it is, is merely hollow and probably won’t be so well
remembered; its shocking parent-caused abortion scene pales to Myers’
“The Bathroom Scene,” as it’s called, whispered. The scene would make
William Friedkin proud and/or jealous of Myers; as such, Regan’s
shocking crucifix-masturbation scene in The Exorcist has been demoted.
Roulette, because of that one scene which sort of punctuates the film,
it now wears the crown in terms of real-world, psychological horror;
it benefits from the horrifically surreal ending, awful as it was/is
to behold. It’s not for the squeamish. Not for the squeamish.
Characters-wise, the film rests on three main ones, adults in their
late-20s. First, intense and strong-willed, wheelchair-bound Dean
Jensen, played hauntedly by Mike Baldwin, has — had – it all: new
wife, house, health, and gradually loses. Big-time. Searching for some
kind of peace, maybe other miserable souls with whom to share company,
the film begins with Dean convening peers from a local support group
–seemingly normal Richard Kessler and Sunshine “Sunny” Howard — in his
murky, nondescript house with flickering firelight foreshadowing the
hell ahead. Seated around a table, the tragic trio of strangers having
already hit rock-bottom, plunge deeper into their personal abysses,
gradually discovering quite a bit about themselves and each other,
discovering what they’re made of, who they’ve become, and who had a
hand in the events that brought them to their lowly, self-destructing
state. No professional help was present in those scenes, the spine of
the film, as that would have stolen the film’s dramatic thunder. These
three were in so many ways near death, and had no one else to turn to.
Dark territory, to say the least. But, I’ll say more.
Sunny, played by Ali Lukowski, comes from religion, Myers admirably
taking the high road, using the character as a means to comment on
self-centered — not Christ-centered — Christianity. That said, it
would have helped the film if there were a character somewhere with a
little more compassion for Sunny, someone a little more
Christ-following, Christ-like. All her friends and family turned on
her, not a single peer to show her sympathy, unconditional love;
granted, her tyrannical father’s change of heart for her, his
daughter, was touching and rang true.
Still, Lukowski’s performance is probably the film’s richest as the
protagonist. So sad was her character’s arc that Sunny’s anguished
face remains seared in my mind, so much that it was like watching
family go down the same path. What makes it all the more terrible is I
also remember her, how she looked before, in that library, even at
that abortion clinic. Innocent. Pure. What a fall.
Will Haza’s Richard, arguably the more pitiful of the two male lead
characters, is a guy in search of himself and is sort of the opposite
of Dean, and may be the next sympathetic character after Sunny. Though
perceived relatively normal, just troubled, he gradually loses it as
increasingly manic ringleader Jensen callously prods him on in their
most dangerous game. Really both Dean Jensen and Richard Kessler
aren’t good or bad, they’re just not good with women, choosing or
sticking with them. Worse, it’s their fatal flaw, revealed in two of
the most shocking flashbacks, which is all I can say without spoiling
And special mention goes to Jan-David Soutar, Sunny’s smarmy
boyfriend, Leon Carmichael, the desperately needed source of comic
relief, however scant. In a lesser film, Leon wouldn’t have been
properly grounded in reality. And it’s morbidly ironic that he’s
responsible for turning Sunny’s world upside-down; with her consent,
of course. He’s a guy we all probably know and, gents, if we’re really
honest, might even be on a bad day. But really, all Myers’ main and
supporting cast could be people we know or have known; everyday
citizens in our communities, each with their own burdens and fears
boiling beneath faces worn just to get by.
One can’t help but appreciate the simmering triple-helix of story
threads, how it was realistic without becoming a gimmick. The “suicide
room” was an inspired device to introduce and develop the three main
characters, successfully delivering expository dialogue without trying
to be another cute Quentin Tarantino clone. Dialogue-driven movies are
something to be encouraged, but Myers is one who dares take that
storytelling approach and avoids viewers’ interest piling up like
traffic at the scene of an highway accident; partly because he and his
actors make every word count in driving, not hi-jacking, the story.
John Frankenheimer and Rod Serling were masters of this, of course:
dialogue as the action.
Helping things run smoothly, editor Myers’ inventive “eye-trace” cuts,
the shot juxtapositions and Composer Dan Schepleng’s somber, evocative
score kept the narrative’s slow pace interesting. The score in
particular was handled excellently, initially passages of seething and
elegant ambiance, eventually traditional music, before finally falling
like dominoes in operatic crescendo the final 25 minutes, driving home
and drawing things to a soul-scathing close. That all said, the film
could have been trimmed, just a few frames here and there, not
butchered; it was a little long. Even so, the excess frames here and
there are not a deal-breaker.
Cinematography. Some criticize the artful lighting, the deep
saturation Jamie Bender brought to the film; well, maybe I haven’t
seen a lot of movies, but it worked stunningly. Watching the film,
it’s clear from the beginning it wasn’t just another angsty
pain-filled character ensemble; the rich color pallet, muted at times,
kept my eyes wide and glued to the screen and to the story.
No frame of the film relents, nor is there anything to suggest it was
creatively bankrupt, compromised in order to get ahead. And the sheer
superhuman might it took to execute such a compelling and engrossing
beast, to pull it altogether in the end despite the disaster of the
original actress hired and what she tried to pull, Myers should be
proud of what he accomplished with his talented cast and crew; they
all made it to the finish line, rendering a milestone. Needless to
say, good for them for winning so many awards with this one film, so
early in their careers.
The film is Myers’ masterpiece, despite being only his first feature.
As a film, it’s a cross-section of various rising Baltimore-area
talent before and behind the camera, and all these weeks since seeing
a preview copy, is difficult to forget, as it’s the kind of film worth
revisiting film more in the coming years, if for no other reason than
to study and appreciate the visual storytelling strategies throughout
what is a dynamic, but still small-scale story.
Plenty of independent cinema already out there amounts to gimmickry
and manipulative shock tactics that would only have been heavy-handed
with the strangers-gun-and-secrets premise on which the story’s
founded. But Roulette is different, special, yet remains just an
indicator of the writer-director’s future potential in shooting and
pulling feature films together, telling human stories. Directing is so
much more than pointing a camera, and as Erik Kristopher Myers keeps
going around the country with Roulette, winning additional awards,
producers in or out of Hollywood will be coming around to see Roulette
and to develop and execute more such uncompromising films; and if
they’re lucky, with Myers at the helm.
It’s a dark, dark movie a la David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With
Me. It’s not Care Bears. Make no mistake: it’s an emotionally visceral
film; not for everyone, particularly the squeamish, as previously
Roulette is an emotional avalanche of ice as well as fire, the
elements of the human heart. Yet, I understand and am fully behind its
winning all the awards available, and congratulate Myers on not giving
us a non-personal, non-artistic first film, something rushed and
compromised just to get made in order to have something to show and
get better work from. This was and is Myers’ thesis project, his
filmmaking soul laid bare for all to see should they have the mind and
Starring Mike Baldwin, Will Haza, Ali Lukowski, Michelle Murad, Taylor Lee
Hitaffer, Jan-David Soutar, Troy Russell, Frank B. Moorman, Mark
Kilbane, David Kalman, Leanna Chamish, George Stover, Gavin Peretti,
Amy Freedman, Jenna St. John, Frank Lama
From Four-Fingered Films, J65 Productions, Interpol Films, Meridian
Today, November 6, marks
the sixth year that Bill Blatty's son, Peter Vincent Galahad Blatty,
passed away at the age of 19. Though still being around - and making
many, many appearances to Bill and daughter Mary Jo Blatty alike -
please take a moment to think about Pete. He is a strong soul, and a
Recently, Cemetery Dance
sent out an email regarding two exclusive editions of The 40th
Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist novel, both of which sold
out within a day or two. I managed to score a copy of each:
With an oversized page size and an extremely low print run, this
special edition will feature a high-quality paper stock, a deluxe
binding selected from the finest materials available, and cover
artwork and original illustrations by Caniglia. This stunning special
edition will be like no other book in your collection.
Earlier this year, William Peter Blatty announced that he had revised
his original manuscript for The Exorcist to be published as a
special 40th Anniversary edition. This is his final, definitive
version of The Exorcist and Lonely Road Books will be
publishing it as a deluxe, oversized, slipcased and signed Special
Edition next year!
This special edition will feature multiple pages of full-color
artwork by Caniglia and will be limited to just 374 copies of the
Limited Edition and 26 copies of the Lettered Edition, making it an
extremely collectible edition!
Readers, please also be advised that the lettered, traycased edition
of The Exorcist & Legion still has yet to be shipped out from
Cemetery Dance; it's still 'forthcoming', along with the Smoke &
Mirrors compilation (featuring the teleplay called Hell
Hospital and the treatment called Faith).
worth mentioning is that the cover artwork for the hardcover version
of The 40th Anniversary Edition is also available in paperback format,
if you'd prefer to have that instead of the other paperback with the
Moreover, there are two
more special Blatty editions forthcoming:
I, myself, am skipping on the hardcover version of the magazine (since
I already own the magazine and it's quite pricey), but the other
release looks very interesting indeed. Keep that first link bookmarked
for future reference for sure.
* Update: Since posting
this, Bill's interview with the Huffington Post has been posted
online. For whatever reason, the "Author's Note" that was posted here
on TNC.com in August didn't make it into any of the 40th Anniversary
pressings, so here is the only place it can be located, though Bill
did use some of it in the interview itself. Check it out here!:
For the readers of
TNC.com, Mr. Blatty would like to make a correction and a
clarification to the oft-spoken-about "Trilogy of Faith," more of
which can be read about (the now out-dated version, anyway!)
While I still have access to a sufficient number of neurons,
I would like to use your site to correct a misapprehension that I see
still turning up here and there, including on Amazon's Exorcist site, namely that I consider The Ninth
Configuration to be the sequel to The Exorcist. Did I ever say that? Who knows: I'm almost 84 years old. But I
think this misapprehension
might well be traceable to Mark Kermode, who long ago named The
Exorcist, The Ninth Configuration and Legion "The Trilogy
of Faith." Or not. But today the three of my works I would link
together are The Exorcist, Legion and Dimiter. The Exorcist
argues for God's existence in a very general way while Legion
approaches itin a very specific, evidential way that to a
great extent involves intelligent design. In Legion there is a
dream sequence in which the Humphrey Bogart of Casablanca
criticizes Lt. Kinderman for leaving Christ out of the equation, to
which Kinderman replies that he intends to include him. Dimiter
is the fulfillment of Kinderman's promise. To quote from A Man
For All Seasons, "I trust I make myself obscure."
Having then pointed out this previous interview response to Bill from
It's always seemed to me that The
Exorcist, The Ninth Configuration, and Legion formed
a sort of "unofficial" trilogy -- with The Ninth Configuration
serving as a thematic bridge between the more overt horrors in The
Exorcist and the intensely introverted struggles of Kinderman in
Legion. Do you view the three novels as a trilogy? If so, why?
And if not, why?
"Yes, they form -- at least in my
mind -- a trilogy. Taken together, they are all about the eternal
questions that nag at Woody Allen: why are we here? what are we
supposed to be doing? why do we die? is there a God? The Exorcist
approached this last question, which is the heart of all the others,
by seeking to confirm the existence of "demons" and the power of
religious faith to deal with them. The Ninth Configuration
approached the problem via what I call "the mystery of goodness": if
we are reducible to matter without spirit, to soulless atomic
structures, then we ought to be always rushing blindly and
irresistibly to serve our own selfish ends. Yet how is it that there
is love in this world -- love as a God might love -- and that a man
will give his life for another. The astronaut Cutshaw's search for
irrefutable proof of such pure self-sacrifice forms the underlying
plot. But then in Legion, Ivan Karamazov's greatest barrier to
religious faith -- the suffering of the innocent: the "problem of
evil" -- is met head-on by Lt. Kinderman."
"...the response, please, Damien!" -
what do we do? "The Quartet of Faith?" Yes, everything I said before
is true; but the direct linkage is from The Exorcist to
Legion to Dimiter.
Bill has kindly had
Harper Collins send me both the paperback and hardcover versions of
the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist novel hot off the
press! Given that these versions don't contain the "author's note"
that was published here earlier on in August, and that they have
slightly different cover art to the images posted earlier, I'm unsure
if these are the final products, particularly since amazon.com have
delayed the commercial release dates to the end of October.
the very sparse additional material to work with when it comes to the
film version of Legion, the changes, tweaks and (slight) additions
that Spicediver has implemented in his fan edit of the movie are
extremely impressive, and gives us an idea of what could have been had
Morgan Creek not insisted upon making the changes that they ultimately
did. Apart from promotional stills and some different angles and “head
morphing” footage from an old trailer, that is about the extent of
“cut footage” the public currently has access to. That is, unless the
original footage is ever finally found in the vaults.
I just got done watching the fan edit about five minutes ago, and took
screen captures of key scenes that were altered throughout the
viewing. While my memory is still fresh, I will list the primary
changes (extremely well edited, might I add) in list form, and then
post the screen captures after the jump.
- The edit opens up with black and white footage from the end of
the original film; Karras’ firm “no” in response to Chris MacNeil
asking if Regan is going to die, the moment we see in Karras’ face
that he has decided that self sacrifice is the only way out for the
innocent girl. We eventually cut to the image of Karras at the bottom
of the steps, bleeding, which then goes into a direct color transition
to the image of the steps from The Exorcist III, with “15 years later”
shortly after appearing on the screen. This is a very tasteful, classy
- In terms of minor changes and tweaks, the entire opening sequence is
made less drawn out, and cuts to the chase far more quickly than in
the regular version of the film. Thomas Kintry’s grieving mother is
omitted from the dock murder scene (which will be made relevant a
little later on), and the footage of Karras jumping from the window
that appears during the dialogue exchange between Dyer and the young
man in the church is removed. The funny “carp scene” is shortened,
ending at the point in which Kinderman states that he hasn’t had a
bath for three days, making that scene a little less drawn out as
- Right after we see the blood seep through the cracks of the
confession booth, Spicediver has used the front-on image of Father
Kanavan holding his decapitated head on his lap, and utilized it a
very clever way. The same audio is heard (that loud, disconcerting
noise that we hear just before Nurse Keating is murdered), and the
image is zoomed in on, so it doesn’t just look like a photo slapped in
there for the sake of it.
- When we see Karras (The Gemini Killer) in the padded cell for the
first time, the “I was only twenty-one when I died,” line has been
- In terms of edited dialogue, the exchange between the
university president and Kinderman alters the word “Kintry’s mother”
to “Kintry’s father,” hence the omission of Kintry’s mother crying
the opening murder scene. This helps to make the man we see with
Karras in the original film informing him of the English in reverse
make a lot more sense. In addition, the very creepy flickering of
lights/delivery of the president’s speech is also removed, making the
movie overall a lot tighter and concise, in a good way.
- The relationship between Kinderman and Karras is slightly improved
and makes more sense with a little clever audio editing (again, very
well done) and over-dubbing. Rather than having Kinderman say “He was
my best friend, I loved him,” we get “Karras was my friend, I loved
him”. With this slightly altered line, it makes it seem less like they
were long-time, “best” friends, and we can assume that at some point
throughout the first film they did spend some time together and became
closer, hence the photograph of them together that we see Kinderman
look at fondly during the beginning of the film.
- The scene between Kinderman and Nurse Allerton is cut short,
omitting the “save your servant” dialogue section, and also removing
Kinderman looking through The Roman Ritual to the rite for exorcism.
- Perhaps my favorite part of this edit occurs during Brad Dourif’s
dialogue, explaining how he got out of the coffin. Prior to the
“little giggles and bits of good cheer” line, words have been
manipulated so that it sounds as if the Gemini is saying “Brother
Fain… it’s his body in the coffin.” Expertly done, and a fantastic
addition that makes up for the lack of the coffin exhumation footage
(which was filmed, just like the Gemini’s father’s sub-plot).
- As far as the ending goes, just before Nurse X hits the floor, we
hear a gun shot fired, presumably by Danny (the police officer who
drives Kinderman back to his house), which is what stops her. In the
original script, Nurse X is stopped in her tracks due to the Gemini’s
father dying of natural causes. Again, none of this is at our disposal
at present time, so this particular edit was very well chosen, since
we then see her lying on a gurney being wheeled inside the disturbed
ward just prior to Kinderman seeing Karras for the final time. We can
imagine that she was shot in her lower back, injured, but alive.
- Next, we reach the more subtle ending that we should have had,
rather than the over-the-top exorcism that we received. Spicediver has
edited it thusly: Kinderman walks into the disturbed ward corridor, we
hear Karras whisper “Bill, free me,” and Kinderman enters the cell.
Footage is re-used from earlier on in the film when Kinderman kneels
down and looks at Karras/the Gemini closely, almost face-to-face, and we
then cut to the eyes of the Gemini (Dourif) with the line “Don’t worry
about Julie, we’ll get her…” overdubbed. Kinderman then says “Pray for
me, Damien. You’re free,” we then see the silhouette of Karras looking at
Kinderman, he quietly says “Bill…” and we then hear the final gun
shot. The very last scene depicts Karras’ grave stone, with the death
date morphing from 9 Oct. 1975 to 13 Oct. 1990.
Overall, an extremely well-made and thoroughly enjoyable fan edit
that leaves me salivating, hoping and praying that the original
footage is someday found and properly restored. I may have forgotten
to mention some other minor edits (i.e. omission of some scenes, or
cutting some scenes short), but everything I did mention was of the
most important nature.
And here are the screen captures! Starting off with some from
Spicediver’s trailer and the DVD menu screens:
With the 40th
Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist coming out on September 27,
2011 through Harper (that’s right folks, f-o-r-t-y years now since the
original novel was released!), the always humble and witty Bill Blatty
has kindly gone out of the way of his busy schedule to answer some
questions for readers of TheNinthConfiguration.com in the lead
up to this momentous event. Fans can look forward to refined prose,
some new material, and even a new character in, as Bill has put it
just recently, “a totally new, very spooky scene”.
The questions that follow are entirely compiled by myself, aside from
the first question that has been posed by my dear friend and fellow
Blatty-nerd, Mike Garrett, who himself is working on a non-fiction
book about the notorious chaos that went on during the production of
the Exorcist prequel(s) in 2004 and 2005 (www.EvilAgainstEvil.com).
With that said, let’s commence, casting our minds back to that
scorching Iraqi sun, the ancient demons, and where it all began…
* * * * *
Ryan: Bill, as always, thank you so much for your hospitality
and giving fans the opportunity to get a little more info about the
upcoming re-release. It’s greatly appreciated and I would first like
to extend my sincere thanks to you!
Glad to oblige.
Ryan: Before I ask you any questions of my own, here is that
first one that comes from Mike Garrett (who I believe you have
communicated with a variety of times in the past), and he asks: Are
you able to give any general commentary on the thinking behind the
various [new] additions to the novel, even if it means spoiling them?
:-) At the minimum, what do fans specifically get to look forward to?
What scenes get enhanced and how? Thanks!
There is only one new character and one new extended scene, as you
mentioned. There is new dialogue, and a minor rewrite of a portion of
the ending that, though it still leaves it slightly ambiguous, will
make it clear to the careful reader that Karras, not the demon, has
won. Other than these, the bulk of the rewrite consists of a polish of
the dialogue and prose throughout.
Ryan: My turn now! As most fans of your craft are aware, the
past several years have seen you extremely active: you’ve overseen a
stage production of one of your first novels entitled John
Goldfarb, Please Come Home!, along with fan-made productions of
The Exorcist, Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane and Legion.
You’ve had Elsewhere go from being a novel within a compilation
to an entirely new novel that stands on its own. You’ve released the
novels Dimiter [The Redemption in Europe] and Crazy,
and are currently hard at work on another literary project, all the
while working on this upcoming re-release for the 40th anniversary.
Having now completed it (and, indeed, also completed recording the
audiobook version), do you see yourself doing the same thing with the
true sequel, Legion, further down the track? If not for the
novel itself, do you at least see yourself having the film version
re-released on DVD with an audio commentary explaining the various
differences between your original intended version and what ultimately
came out? Unless the original footage is found, of course; though that
still seems unlikely at this juncture…
No, Ryan, there is nothing I would want to change in the novel
Legion. As for the film and a proper DVD, that, alas, is entirely
out of my hands. I have knocked on Morgan Creek’s door any number of
times about that, but they have no interest, it seems; in fact, fear
of my making odious comparisons about my original ending and the one
they tacked on, is part of their reluctance. Finally, years ago
another search for the missing footage was made and turned up nothing
so we must live with what we have. Meantime, I remain a touch
astounded that Morgan Creek has not sought to re-release the film
theatrically, this time with the title I always wanted, just plain old
Legion. Perhaps this isn’t news, but prior to release I had a
heavy discussion with FOX distribution execs, begging them not to put
a number on the title, this because of the embarrassing Exorcist
“I’ve flown this route before on the back of a giant grasshopper” Two,
but, as we now know, I was overruled by Morgan Creek who insisted on
calling the film The Exorcist III. Three weeks later, despite
wonderful reviews – the NY Times’ Vince Canby thought it was better
than the original (a view I do not rush to share) – it swooned at the
box-office, after which Tom Sherak, the head of distribution at FOX,
called me. They had done some polling. “Bill, you want to know the
reason?” he said. “This is going to hurt: it’s Exorcist II.”
Ryan: How are things going on the directorial side of things? I
suppose this question can be answered in four separate segments.
Firstly, with the script for The Exorcist TV miniseries
written, are there still intentions to go ahead with it? And, if so,
when does it look to be going ahead?
Friedkin and I are ready to go ahead with it, but thus far no studio,
except one with a middling viewership, has offered to finance it.
Meantime, Cemetery Dance will soon be publishing the screenplay in
Ryan: Secondly, you mentioned many years ago that you would
like to get back behind the directors’ chair and do a film version of
Elsewhere. Is that one still in the pipeline?
Funny you should ask. Barely three weeks ago, Paramount Pictures,
which has owned the screenplay since 1991 when I wrote it for them, is
suddenly reexamining actually making it. Lovelier still, Billy
Friedkin wants to direct it. Wouldn’t that be nice: our first –
and only collaboration since The Exorcist 40 years ago!
Ryan: Last year you mentioned that you could potentially be
teaming up with Billy Friedkin again after all these years and have
him direct the film version of Dimiter. How likely is this to
happen at this point in time, and what is the status of that project?
Billy is still there for it, yes! But studio financing, at this
moment, doesn’t even shimmer in the mist. But then what else is new?
Should you ever come to the States, I’d like to show you my bathroom:
it’s walls are totally papered over with all the “form” rejection
slips for The Exorcist by every single studio and fly-by-night
production company in Los Angeles. Seems to be part of the ritual for
“green-lighting” any of my work for film.
Ryan: Last question on the directorial side of things: despite
the Legion original material still supposedly lost, would you
still consider re-filming certain takes (i.e. the proposed opening
sequence with the Gemini killer) along with other ideas you may have
floating around? If a DVD re-release is planned, could this be an
additional possibility on top of a possible audio commentary by you?
How likely is this to happen when juxtaposed with everything else
going on in your career at this point in time?
Can’t be done, Ryan. Brad Dourif is now 21 years older, for one thing,
and Morgan Creek simply won’t pony up the costs. Yes, I would do some
of it; but they won’t have. Yet.
Ryan: As you know, and as we have talked about in the past,
The Ninth Configuration holds a very special place in my heart.
What is your fondest memory when filming it (be it an incident on set,
Keeping Jason Miller and Joe Spinnel out of a Hungarian jail after a
melee in the top floor discotheque of the Budapest Hilton Hotel after
a melee there in which a full bottle of gin found its way – somehow –
to the head of the Nigerian ambassador to Hungary. “The rest is
Ryan: Out of your official ‘trilogy of faith’ (The Exorcist,
The Ninth Configuration and Legion), speaking in terms
of the film versions for each, which character do you like most of all
from each, and for what reasons? In addition, what is your favorite
scene from each one? Please be as elaborate or as concise as you like
with this one!
I’d like to pass on that one, Ryan. “Shane, there’s too many.”
Ryan: Final question: out of all the prose you have written
over the years, what one sentence from any one of your works would you
most like to be remembered for a hundred years from now?
“Every kind thought is the hope of the world,” from the Ninth C.
* * * * *
As an additional afterthought to this question and answer session,
Bill has also provided the following:
It occurs to me you might wish to have the attached "Author's Note"
which will run with the British 40th Anniversary Edition, or even
incorporate it into my answers.*
* The author's note has since
been re-revised a few times and re-posted below. This is the most
(September 1, 2011)
Here it is, folks! –
“In January 1968, I rented cabin in
Lake Tahoe to start writing a novel about demonic possession that I’d
been thinking about for many years. I’d been driven to it, actually:
I was a writer ofcomic
novels and farcical screenplays such as A Shot
in the Dark with almost all
of my income derived from films; but because the
season for “funny” had abruptly turned
dry and no studio would hire me for anything non-comedic, I had
reached James Thurber’s stage of desperation when, as he wrote in a
“Preface to His Life,” comedy writers sometimes take to “calling
their home from their office, or their office from their home, asking
for themselves, and then hanging up in hard-breathing relief upon
being told they ‛weren’t in.’” My breaking point came, I suppose, when
at the Van Nuys, California, unemployment office I spotted my movie
agent in a line three down from mine. And so the cabin in Tahoe where
I was destined to become the caretaker in Stephen King’s terrifying
The Shining, typing my version of “All work and no play makes all
boy” hour after hour, day after day for over six weeks as I kept
changing , the date in my opening paragraph from “April 1” to April
something else, because each time I would read the page aloud, the
rhythm of the lines seemed to change, a maddening cycle of emptiness
and insecurity –- magnified, I suppose, by the fact that I had no
clear plot for the novel in mind –- that continued until I at last
gave up the cabin and hoped for better luck back “home,” a clapboard
raccoon-surrounded guest house in the hills of Encino owned by a
former Hungarian opera star who had purchased the property from the
luminous film actress, Angela Lansbury, and where I overcame the block
by realizing that I was starting the novel in the wrong place,
namely, the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C., as opposed to
northern Iraq. Almost a year later I completed a first draft of the
novel. At the request of my editors at Harper and Row, I did make two
quick changes: cleaning up Chris MacNeil’s potty mouth, and making
the ending “less obvious.” But because of a dire financial
circumstance, I had not another day to devote to the manuscript, so
that when I received a life-saving offer to adapt Calder Willingham’s
novel Providence Island for the screen for Paul Newman’s film
company, I instantly accepted and left my novel to find its fate.
For most of these past forty years I have rued not having done a
thorough second draft and careful polish of the dialogue and prose.
But now, like an answer to a prayer, this fortieth anniversary of the
novel has given me not only the opportunity to do another draft, but
to do it at a time in my life –- I will be 84 this coming January –-
when it might not be totally unreasonable to hope that my abilities,
such as they are, have at least somewhat improved, and for all of this
I say, Deo gratias!”
Note: Updates from here on in will be (as you can see) one size
up in font. I won't be going back and re-editing older entries, but
will be keeping this size consistent so it's easier on the eyes for
readers of TNC.com. That said,
THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of The Exorcist
just around the corner (one month to go exactly from today, in fact),
another long-overdue site update of a variety of accumulated material
(images, links, etc.) have now been added to the site. You will find
the specific links after the jump.
Meanwhile, Mr. Blatty has just finished recording the audiobook
version of The Exorcist 40th anniversary edition and has kindly
accepted to answer a variety of questions (both related to the
upcoming re-release, plus other miscellaneous inquiries) I submit to
him over the weekend. Look for that question and answer session
sometime in the near future!
amazon.com are currently doing a fantastic deal and have both the
paperback and hardcover versions of the re-release available for a
special price. Be sure to take advantage of that while it lasts.
then, here are the latest updates! -
New photos of Bill (72.jpg - 91.jpg) added
here (click on "Photos").
Back in February, a gentleman called Alex Fitch, Assistant Editor of
Electric Sheep magazine, e-mailed me with an article titled "Light In
The Darkness," essentially doing the job of what I was trying to
convey with this page:
http://www.theninthconfiguration.com/intro/ located just below
the "donate" button up top. It's extremely well-written and
informative, and I only got around to reading it in its entirety two
days ago. Please, if you get the chance, check it out at the following
In 1973, The Exorcist
briefly became the most profitable film of all time, beaten by Jaws
a couple of years later. Depending on whether you count Jaws as
a horror film or a thriller, The Exorcist can be said to be the
most successful horror film ever made. Naturally, not long after its
release, the studio wanted a sequel, but neither writer/producer
William Peter Blatty nor director William Friedkin was interested.
This led to Warner Bros commissioning the risible Exorcist II: The
Heretic in 1977, which was damned by critics and was listed as the
second worst film ever made (following Plan 9 from Outer Space)
in Michael Medved’s book The Golden Turkey Awards.
William Peter Blatty,
needless to say, disowned the sequel; he was approached by Warner Bros
after Exorcist II was completed to help promote the film, which
he’d had no involvement with, and famously told the producers that
he’d only be prepared to re-edit and redub the dialogue of the film if
they wanted to release it as a comedy! Blatty himself hadn’t wanted to
do a direct sequel anyway at this point and instead wanted to script
an adaptation of his 1966 novel Twinkle, Twinkle, ‘Killer’ Kane,
hoping he could interest Friedkin in directing it. While considering
this project, Blatty rewrote much of the book and republished it as
The Ninth Configuration in 1978, before directing the film himself
a year later. Blatty went on to consider The Ninth Configuration
to be the true sequel to The Exorcist. He then wrote the novel
Legion in 1983, which he adapted into film as The Exorcist
III in 1990, turning his series into a trilogy. Although not a
direct sequel to The Exorcist (he wrote Twinkle, Twinkle,
‘Killer’ Kane first), The Ninth Configuration shares some
of the themes of his most famous script, and if you compare the plots
of all three movies (which also all feature actor Jason Miller in
decreasing amounts of screen time) you can see how they complement one
Novel cover variations have been added to the following locations:
Finally, here is an image I have had sitting around for a while now of
Fr. William O'Malley (Father Dyer from the first Exorcist film)
blessing the set in 1973 (click for larger view):
that's it for now! The next update will include the aforementioned
question and answers with Mr. Blatty regarding the upcoming re-release
of The Exorcist, along with any other questions that I may come
up with, or may be asked by people close to me. Look for it soon!
Dear TNC.com readers - a bit of new and exciting news from Bill
regarding the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist!
I forgot to tell you that the 40th Anniversary Edition of The Exorcist
will have a touch of new material in it as part of an all-around
polish of the dialogue and prose. First time around I never had the
time (meaning the funds) to do a second draft, and this, finally, is
it. With forty years to think about it, a few little changes were
inevitable -- plus one new character in a totally new very spooky
scene. This is the version I would like to be remembered for.
All the best,
you haven't already, be sure to pre-order your copies by clicking the
banner at the top of the page.
a new documentary about the life and times of our late
and beloved Jason Miller, needs your support, particularly fans of THE
NINTH CONFIGURATION. Rather than blabber on about it myself here, I
will transfer over the data from CaptainHowdy.com. Please, if you have
the funds, purchase one of the packages being offered by these devoted
people. And for the people of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
TNC fans will want to order the Captain Howdy Gold Special for
$34.00, shipped worldwide. Please click the banner up top or the image
below to place your order. It features:
This special perk is also presented by CaptainHowdy.com, the ultimate
Exorcist fan site. For your 34.99 contribution, you will receive one
signed dvd of Miller's Tale, a 5x7 photo of Jason Miller, and a bonus
dvd containing the complete uncut interviews with William Friedkin and
Stacy Keach who share their insight on their friend and colleague,
Jason Miller, and share their stories about the making of The Exorcist
and The Ninth Configuration. Includes shipping to anywhere in the
Miller’s Tale is a wholesome, honest and telling documentary on the
intriguing (and some might argue tragic) life of playwright and actor
The film is a sincere effort to convey the truth about a man who never
forgot where he came from or the group of people he belonged to.
Following acclaim for his leading role performance as Father Karras in
The Exorcist and winning the coveted Pulitzer Prize for his play That
Championship Season, Miller refused the glitz and glamour of Hollywood
and instead returned home to Scranton, PA where he lived out the
remainder of his days. Surrounded by much speculation as to what he
could have become had he stayed in Hollywood, and what he became upon
his return, Miller’s Tale is certainly one that deserved to be told.
I thank God director Rebecca Marshall had the courage to pick up this
project and run with it. It’s with her (and her team) that the
wholesomeness and integrity can be found. Had the story of Jason
Miller landed in the hands of, say, E! True Hollywood Stories, the
‘Tale’ told might have been radically skewed. Thankfully, Rebecca is
also a Scranton local and had the pleasure of meeting and even working
with Miller at one stage, completing the picture and ensuring Miller’s
Tale comes from a reliable, genuine source. It feels right at home.
There never has been, nor will there ever be, anything like this
documentary. Anyone who is remotely interested in the trials and
tribulations of a once-successful playwright who struggles with his
position in this world; any fan of The Exorcist; or anyone interested
in a well-crafted independent documentary, will benefit from what
Miller’s Tale has to offer.
If you’re a Jason Miller fan, it’s practically sin if you haven’t seen
Miller’s Tale comes loaded with intriguing insights from those who
were close to the man himself. It pulls no punches, telling both sides
of the story by allowing negatives and naysayers a fair voice as the
town of Scranton determines how and where to place a memorial bust of
Miller in his honor.
The Exorcist director William Friedkin speaks about Miller with a
saddening passion that reminds us how wonderful he was as an actor,
and what could have been had he chosen more successful roles.
Martin Sheen delves into his experiences on the film That Championship
Season and how dedicated and professional Miller was in every aspect.
Family and friends, including Miller’s dear friend, actor/sculptor
Paul Sorvino, open up about their love and admiration for Miller, and
how they perceived his darker days of drinking and self reflection.
It’s exciting and absorbing to see extremely rare footage of Miller
from many decades of archives, including some from Rebecca’s own
footage. As fans of The Exorcist, we tend to crave rare footage of
anything even remotely related the horror masterpiece, and in Miller’s
Tale we find numerous nuggets of pure gold.
Is Miller’s Tale the greatest documentary ever made? No. But it knows
what it is. It tells the unique story it has to tell and does it
exceedingly well, not once trying to be anything more. There’s no
pretending. There’s no faking. Miller’s Tale is as down to Earth and
rugged as the man it documents. And folks, that’s a beautiful thing.
Like watching Jason play Father Karras to astounding perfection, or
reading That Championship Season for the first time, you’ll never
forget seeing Miller’s Tale.
My long-time online/Blatty companion
was kind enough to snail-mail me a vast array of magazine pages and
clippings related directly to Legion. The scans have all
finally been made and uploaded, and can be viewed below.
Please bear in mind that the
LEGION section of TNC.com houses several articles, and some of
these may overlap in this new batch of scanned items. However, some
may also be exclusive to the site, so it's a good idea to take a look
at both lots if you get the chance. Here are the ones that are already
housed at TNC.com:
Dear visitors of TNC.com - here is a special message from Bill Blatty
and some corresponding images! Enjoy:
you may already know this year is the 40th anniversary of the
publication of The Exorcist novel and the original publisher, Harper,
is coming out with a deluxe anniversary edition on September 27, plus
trade and mass paperback editions. I've just queried Harper as to
whether or not it's okay with them if I were to provide you with both
the hardcover and trade paper covers (they're entirely different). It
might be too early for that. I'll let you know.
Hey, Ryan! While they're awaiting the high res, Harper sent me the low
res, so you can at least take a peek. The sinister red one is for the
trade paperback, the other for the hardcover edition. They're
Please pardon the lack of updates - been extremely busy!
Recent news and upcoming Blatty-related releases will be published
here once I return from Texas in early May, including an upgrade of
the current forum software, as well as tweaking some additional colors
on the forum itself that need to be adjusted. Thank you for your
celebrate, here are scans of an alternative press kit for The Ninth
Configuration I located recently. It contains quite a lot of
insightful testimonies by the actors that I haven't read anywhere