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.
His latest non-fiction venture, “The Devil and Father Amortha,” had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival two years ago. The documentary told the story of Father Gabriele Amortha’s and picked up as he was about to perform his ninth exorcism.
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 the harsh words he has for its sequel “Exorcist II: The Heretic":
“I tell you, I did see a great deal of Exorcist II, under the following circumstances,” Friedkin told hosts Josh Olson and Joe Dante on an episode of The Movies That Made Me podcast. “I was at the Technicolor lab, color timing something, and one of the timers said, ‘We just finished Exorcist II, would you like to have a look at it?’ And I don’t know why, but I went into the room and I sat through maybe 40 minutes of it. It’s the worst piece of sh— I’ve ever seen. It’s a f—ing disgrace….And God, what a cast it had — Richard Burton, and Max von Sydow, and Louise Fletcher, plus Linda Blair. James Earl Jones. That’s the worst 40 minutes of film I have ever seen, really, and that’s saying a lot.”