Director William Friedkin Talks Exorcist Sequels, Praises ‘IT’

Posted 2017/10/29 0 0

The legendary Hollywood director also explained his disdain for studio filmmaking today and addressed diversity challenges for the film industry.


If you are a horror fan, then The Exorcist is a film that needs no introduction. However, the sequels to The Exorcist have arguably become somewhat less celebrated over the years and in a new lengthy interview with Indiewire, Friedkin provided his thoughts on the multiple Exorcist sequels – Exorcist II: The Heritic, The Exorcist III, Exorcist: The Beginning, Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. So just what does Friedkin think of all those sequels? Not much, because he’s never even bothered to see them:

“I never saw any of the Exorcist films, not even Bill’s (William Peter Blatty, who wrote The Exorcist novel, directed Exorcist III). I saw a few minutes of Exorcist II, but that was only because I was in the Technicolor lab timing a film that I had directed — I forget which one — and one of the color timers at Technicolor said, hey, we just made a print of Exorcist II, would you like to have a look at it? I said OK. I went in, and after five minutes, it just blasted me. I couldn’t take it…I thought it was just ridiculous and stupid. But that was only five minutes, so I can’t make an ultimate judgement about it. It just seemed to me to have nothing to do with The Exorcist…I know Bill [Blatty] did one, which was not meant to be called Exorcist III. It was from another novel he’d written called Legion. I had no interest. I loved Bill Blatty. I dedicated my documentary to him and we remained close friends to his death. But I know that he had to make a lot of compromises — he had to put an exorcism scene in there, which he never intended, so that the producers could call it Exorcist III.”

Of course horror these days is focused on other things, with this year’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “IT” becoming the most successful horror movie of all time at the box-office – not accounting for inflation. Friedkin reveals he has seen the film and really enjoyed it, but points out the film can’t come close to the number of tickets sold by his original film:

“I thought it was a little bit over the top, but ‘IT’ was really good. The clown was pretty scary stuff. I really like it. But here’s the thing. It will never have as many admissions as ‘The Exorcist’ in terms of people who came to see it. The price of a ticket when ‘The Exorcist’ came out was probably on average less than two dollars; I think today it’s closer to nine.

Neither ‘The Exorcist’ nor any of the other films that made a lot of money will ever have as many viewers as ‘Gone with the Wind‘ or ‘Birth of a Nation.’ I think it cost 15 cents or a quarter to see. So you can’t talk about how many people saw this more than something else because of the difference in the value of money. But it’s kind of unusual for Warner Bros. to get behind a story like that because ‘The Exorcist’ has been such an important film to them. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Still, I liked ‘IT.’ I thought it was terrific.”

Even though William Friedkin has never sat through the entirety of The Exorcist franchise, his work remains pretty much unchallenged in the annals of horror history. It has been over a decade since the last Exorcist film hit theaters so we will have to wait and see if the series will ever return to the world of movies. Until then, you can The Exorcist TV show here.