Preview by: Jack Foley
WILLIAM Friedkins The Exorcist remains one of the scariest
films of all-time, although attempts to cash in on its success
in later years have drawn mixed results.
Exorcist 2: The Heretic, for instance, was largely ignored, despite
starring Richard Burton, although William Petty Blattys
Exorcist III (the official sequel to the original), was a genuinely
unsettling affair which, at times, reached the terrifying heights
of its illustrious predecessor.
Due for release in October of this year, however, is the latest
film in the franchise- Exorcist: The Beginning, which
takes the form of a prequel to the events in the first movie.
Stellan Skarsgaard plays a young Father Merrin, who is working
in Africa shortly after World War Two.
When a young boy begins to suffer the same symptoms of demonic
possession as Regan in the original film, however, its not
long before it becomes clear that Pazuzu, the demon from the first
film, has claimed the boy as part of his plan to take over the
The film co-stars Billy Crawford, Gabriel Mann and Izabella Scorupco
and is directed by Renny Harlin, who controversially replaced
first-choice helmer, Paul Schrader (Auto Focus) when the producers
decided the original version wasnt gory enough.
Indeed, the film has been dogged by reports of re-writes, distributor
interfering and director fall-outs, making its prospects look
decidedly shaky, to say the least.
A new trailer has just been released, however, which looks suitably
creepy, with the good Father Merrin exploring lots of creepy holes
in the ground.
But it takes the form of a teaser, and doesnt reveal much
However, there is some hope that even if the Harlin cinema version
fails, then viewers can still see Schraders original vision,
as producers, Morgan Creek, recently announced plans to release
two completely different prequels on DVD.
The decision marks some sort of victory for Schrader, who insisted,
in an interview with Variety: "I'm very proud of my film,
and I think it deserves to be seen."
He maintains that his version of the prequel delivers exactly
what he was asked to shoot, adding: "They made it very clear
- no spinning heads and no pea soup. But then they changed their
Prior to the difficulties the film faced with Schrader, it was
to have been directed by John Frankenheimer, who subsequently
had to step down due to ill health, before dying a month later.
The film is due to open in US cinemas in August.