Wednesday, 20 October 2010

What an excellent day for an exorcism...

I'm re-reading William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist this week before I screen the new Blu-Ray edition. Blatty's novel made the transition from page to screen very well - only a few peripheral characters were excised from the film treatment. The biggest casualty of the original text was the elimination of a very minor subplot involving Chris McNeil's housekeeper Karl and his drug-addicted daughter. My favourite sections of the book are Damien Karras' initial meetings with the demon in possession of Regan. Much of the playful dialogue between demon and priest would end up in the film, but pared down. The following excerpt from the book is from one of Karras's exchanges with the demon, and illustrates the mischievous but deeply malevolent persona of the demon in Regan...

As he approached, it was watching with mocking eyes. Full of cunning. Full of hate. Full of power.

"Hello, Karras."

The priest heard the sound of diarrhetic voiding into plastic pants. He spoke calmly from the foot of the bed.

"Hello, devil. And how are you feeling?"

"At the moment, very happy to see you. Glad."

The tongue lolled out of the mouth while the eyes appraised Karras with insolence.

"Flying your colors, I see. Very good." Another rumbling.

"You don't mind a bit of stink, do you, Karras?"

""Not at all."

"You're a liar!"

"Does that bother you?"


"But the devil likes liars."

"Only good ones, dear Karras, only good ones," it chuckled. "Moreover, who said I'm the devil?"

"Didn't you?"

"Oh, I might have. I might. I'm not well. You believed me?"

"Of course."

"My apologies."

"Are you saying that you aren't the devil?"

"Just a poor struggling demon. A devil. A subtle distinction, but one not entirely lost upon Our Father who is in Hell. Incidentally, you won't mention my slip of the tongue to him, Karras, now will you? Eh? When you see him?"

"See him? Is he here?" asked the priest.

"In the pig? Not at all. Just a poor little family of wandering souls, my friend. Yon don't blame us for being here, do you? After all, we have no place to go. No home."

"And how long are you planning to stay?"

The head jerked up from the pillow, contorted in rage as it roared, "Until the piglet dies!"

And then suddenly, Regan settled back into a thick-lipped, drooling grin.

"Incidentally, what an excellent day for an exorcism, Karras."


  1. What is that photo on the cover? Brilliant, but what is it?

  2. Not sure Mark, but it's quite a striking image... This is from the original jacket that came with the first edition of the book, preceeding the film, so its a mystery...

  3. The photograph caused quite a bit of controversy when the book first came out, with Shirley Maclaine (who Blatty based Chris McNeil on) claiming it was a photograph of her daughter, who was rumoured to have been possessed. Blatty says it is a photograph of someone in the publisher's marketing department.

  4. Many thanks Jon, fascinating stuff...

  5. My copy has that same image on the cover, always freaked me out as a young Horror fan

  6. I've never read the book. I think I'm going to now. Wow.