William Peter Blatty passed away on the 12th January 2017 and with that, the writer of The Exorcist is no longer with us. For those unaware of the impact of Blatty’s book, it more or less changed the face of Hollywood and the horror genre in cinema as William Friedkin’s adaptation of The Exorcist changed audiences perception of cinema. The book injected a new vigour into a genre that still seen by many as a joke: it created a new, more literary horror novel that influenced and informed horror since, and it was the source of inspiration behind one of the greatest films – in any genre – ever made.
As remarkable a film/book as The Exorcist is (and Blatty will forever be remembered for it) his work encompassed other more than that. The Ninth Configuration is a a remarkable book Blatty wrote in 1978 and directed as a film in 1980/ A flawed, but strangely compelling work, it has since become a cult classic, but this also deals with theological themes in such a way that it acts as a companion piece to The Exorcist.
Blatty’s own sequel to The Exorcist, Legion, was eventually filmed in 1990 as The Exorcist III. Suffering heavy studio interference, the film became a shadow of Blatty’s intent, but it remained an oddity with some real shocks even though the more difficult theological points were curtailed. A director’s cut was released in 2016 that returns the film to being closer to Batty’s original vision.
With The Exorcist, The Ninth Configuration and Legion, Blatty’s trilogy of ‘Faith’ projected his own ideas of belief into a remarkable body of work that will stand the test of time, just like his memory. With his passing, we’ve lost one of the true greats who, despite his age, was still productive and working away. He’ll be sorely missed, but never forgotten.