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Thread: People Magazine Article: August 14, 1989

  1. #1
    enoonmai Justin's Avatar
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    Jul 07 2010

    People Magazine Article: August 14, 1989

    That Old Devil William Blatty Is Filming a New Exorcist Like a Man Possessed

    Director William Blatty is indulging in the kind of imaginative fantasy a $16 million film budget can inspire. Standing in a bleak, abandoned cement factory in Wilmington, N.C., he envisions it transformed into the Byzantine glory of Santa Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul. In his shooting script for The Exorcist 1990, which takes over where the 1973 blockbuster original left off, the pseudo-cathedral will then dissolve, dream-sequence style, into a way station between the here and the hereafter. "It's a place of timeless transition," says Blatty. A Jesuit-educated Catholic, he calls the scene from his new excursion into supernatural horror "my tip of the hat to the afterlife."

    If not for his good friend Shirley MacLaine, Blatty, 61, probably wouldn't have bothered to make the gesture. After reading Blatty's The Exorcist—the 1971 novel he then turned into an Academy Award-winning screenplay—MacLaine wanted to know what happened to her favorite character, the devil. In 1983 Blatty's answer emerged in the form of a new book, Legion. He rapidly whipped the best-selling detective story about ritualistic slayings into a movie script, retitled it The Exorcist 1990 (sequels sell tickets), and headed for Hollywood. The project was not blessed with instant success; only after a six-year search and five collapsed deals did Blatty finally secure a $2.5 million directing contract to man the bullhorn on the Wilmington and Washington, D.C., sets. Headlining the cast is George C. Scott, who had read and liked Blatty's original book but "never saw The Exorcist—I'm not a big fan of puke, to tell you the truth."

    Queasy moviegoers needn't worry about a repeat of Linda Blair's memorable onscreen upchuck; neither she nor her soup-spewing character will return for The Exorcist 1990. Filling her shoes as a person apparently possessed, however, is Brad (Mississippi Burning) Dourif; he plays Patient X, an amnesiac who just may have some clues about a series of priest murders terrifying Georgetown, Washington's power neighborhood. Ed (St. Elsewhere) Flanders plays a priest who meets an untimely end, and New York Knick Patrick Ewing makes a cameo appearance as a 7-foot Angel of Death.

    Blatty was somewhat disappointed by William Friedkin's direction of The Exorcist ("I didn't want all that head spinning and vomit," he says) and appalled by the phoney 1977 sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic, a bomb he had nothing to do with. So the author was firm about keeping control over The Exorcist 1990. "Either I was going to direct this film, or nobody was going to," says Blatty, who describes his movie as more of a spine chiller. "Things happen offstage with shadows and creaks—with two or three stunning special effects you've never seen before at the end."

    Although Blatty has been writing movie scripts since 1960, his only directing credit is The Ninth Configuration, a 1980 psychological cult classic that wasn't exactly a box office bonanza. So the prospect of directing veteran actor Scott caused him a few sleepless nights. Scott, however, was sanguine. "This film has quality and intellect solely because of Blatty," he says. "So why not go with him as a director?" Scott, who plays a detective trying to solve the murders, doesn't know how the movie will end. Executive producer James G. Robinson knows more but isn't talking. "The ending is very graphic," he says cagily. "I'm not sure what the message of the movie is, but my interpretation is simple: Lucifer never left. He is still with us."

    Blatty, who was raised as a strict Catholic in the Bronx, N.Y., says he is "relaxed" about his faith these days, but claims to have had an extraordinary brush with the supernatural. It happened 20 years ago, when he took a break from writing The Exorcist to sit down at his Ouija board. "I [started] at 9 in the morning," he recalls. "I was still there at 10 A.M. the next day." During the marathon Blatty says he contacted his deceased father, Peter, who walked out on the family when Blatty was 3, and a mysterious 16-year-old girl from 15th-century central Europe whose name was Bats. The experience bolstered his belief in a spirit life, but there was a caveat. "Those among the dead can make contact," he says with conviction. "But I don't know that they know any more than they did when they were alive."

    The making of the original Exorcist was peppered with eerie accidents: An actor died, a carpenter lost several fingers, a mysterious fire destroyed a stage. That prompted the author to bring a priest friend from Blatty's Catholic high school to bless the set. This time around Blatty, who wears a medal of the Virgin Mary given to him by his late mother, a Lebanese immigrant, has not had to bother. There have been some odd coincidences—all seemingly benevolent. A loud clock stopped ticking when shooting began and started again when it was over, as if on cue. An extra says she had a premonitory dream long ago of being in a movie with George C. Scott and being dressed in pajamas—which she is. And a palm reader told Brad Dourif's wife shortly before Dourif read for Patient X that he would get a part he really wanted. But the spirits have left Scott alone. "Nothing," he says gruffly, "has happened to me."

    When filming is over this month, Blatty will take a welcome break from wrestling with his demons. He plans to return to his $3 million home in Greenwich, Conn., where he and his fourth wife, Julie, 37, are getting ready for the birth of their second child (they have a son, Peter Vincent, 2)—Blatty's seventh. Then he'll delve right back into his latest book, a supernatural thriller called Dimiter. And how does the ambassador to the netherworld feel after dealing all day with the creatures of his chilling prose? "I sleep with the night-light on," says Blatty. "I do.",00.html

  2. #2
    Administrator Ryan's Avatar
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    Jul 03 2010
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    Excellent read, thanks for posting.
    What we give to the poor is what we take with us when we die.

    The "Keeper of the Ninth"

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