William Friedkin admits he's never seen any of the "Exorcist" sequels

One of the great unsung American directors is no doubt William Friedkin ("The French Connection," "The Exorcist," "Sorcerer," "To Live and Die in L.A"). Friedkin had a mini comeback of sorts with 2006's "Bug," but, especially, 2011's masterful "Killer Joe," two shockers that pushed the boundaries of tension in American cinema. I was hoping that set of films could be a rejuvenation of sorts for the 82-year-old director but, alas, it never came. The fact that both those movies were all but ignored upon release has made it rather difficult for him to find the sufficient funding to make another cinematic statement.

It's been 6 years since "Killer Joe" was released and he has nothing really planned, at least in terms of fiction. His latest non-fiction venture, "The Devil and Father Amortha," had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival this past September and it sounds just fascinating. The film is the story of Father Gabriele Amortha's and picks up as he's about to perform his ninth exorcism on an Italian woman. There is no release date for the film as of yet, but, suffice to say, the festival reviews have been very good.

The connection between Friedkin and the exorcism genre is unsurpassed, after all he brought it to the mainstream with his 1973 classic "The Exorcist." However, it is surprising to hear that he never saw any of the 4 sequels that followed it:

I never saw any of the ‘Exorcist’ films, not even Bill’s [William Blatty, The 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,” Friedkin said. “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'

He also added that was a fan of "It," which recently unseated "The Exorcist" as the highest grossing horror movie of all-time, but he cautions us not to consider it the horror movie box-office champ, given the inflation in movie ticket prices today when compared to 40 years ago.

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,” he explained. “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.

Source: IndieWire