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William Peter Blatty: writing in the shadows of the Exorcist

April 1, 2010 |  5:17 pm


Now 82, William Peter Blatty has just published his eleventh novel, "Dimiter." He's best-known for "The Exorcist," his tale of demonic possession, made into the famous film by William Friedkin. He even co-wrote the screenplay. After 13 million books sold and a blockbuster motion picture, it was hard to convince anyone that he could do anything different.

In an interview with Nick Owchar, Blatty talks about his past in Hollywood -- where he started out writing, of all things, comedy. "Studio execs forgot Blatty's abilities as a comic writer after 'The Exorcist.' " Owchar writes.

"Their eyes glazed over when I pitched comedy ideas. It was as if I had done nothing else before 'The Exorcist,' " says the man who wrote the screenplay for "A Shot in the Dark" and other film comedies. "It was as if I had landed on this planet just with that book under my arm. It made me insane."

As for horror movies today, Blatty is not impressed. "The more blood, the more chain saws, the better. The studios have so debased the tastes of kids that that's all the kids want now," he says. "When I look around the culture, it makes me want to projectile vomit."

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Max Von Sydow in "The Exorcist." Credit: handout.