Hollywood Reporter - March 29, 2005
SCHRADER PUTS 'EXORCIST' TALE IN PERSPECTIVE
Director Paul Schrader insists that, if nothing else, his
Hollywood odyssey has been unique in film history. Speaking at the
premiere of his ill-fated "Exorcist" prequel at the Brussels
International Festival of Fantastic Film, Schrader noted that "film
schools will now have the easiest example of a compare-and-contrast
Said Schrader: "In that sense, this is an asterisk in the history of
Schrader had been
brought in to shoot "Exorcist: The Beginning" after the original
director, the late John Frankenheimer, fell ill. But producer Morgan
Creek felt Schrader's version was too tame. They shelved it on delivery
and hired Renny Harlin to reshoot the entire movie, which came out last
After almost two years in Hollywood purgatory, Schrader allowed himself
a moment of vindication at the Brussels Festival which ended Saturday.
"If you've made a film that had been shot, and you've been fired, you've
been tarred with a brush and it's almost impossible to get that tar off
of you," he said. "You can explain until you're blue in the face about
how you actually made a good film, and no one will ever believe you,
because no one throws away a $35 million good film. It had to be a
Schrader said it was a close call that his work -
now tentatively named "Paul Schrader's The Exorcist: The Prequel"
- wasn't entirely junked. "The fact that this
film exists owes itself to two phenomena that were not present 10 years
ago," he said. "The first is DVD. We were able to say to the financier,
'Don't throw away that film: There is money to be made down the road in
DVD.' The other thing is the Internet, whereby through use of fan-based
Web sites you can keep talk about the film alive so that the subject
never quite dies. Were it not for the Internet, it would have been
It was partly because of the horror fan base that Schrader chose
Brussels for the screening. "I approached the festival because it was
low-key enough that I might get away with Morgan Creek letting me do it.
Also, in a more high-profile festival, I would just be in a sidebar
somewhere, and here I'm the centerpiece," he said.
"This is a specialty festival," said Schrader -
screenwriter of "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull," and director of "Auto
Focus." "The two times Merrin kissed the girl, they were like, 'No,
don't kiss her! She's gonna turn into the Devil!' These people are so
far ahead of you in the genre: You have an audience that cheers when a
woman gets a screwdriver stuck in her eye."
Despite the relief at finally being granted a premiere, Schrader also
admits to a certain discomfiture about seeing it. "There are some
painful moments watching one's own movie," he said. "Although I can see
the good bits, I also see the mistakes. And so there are two thoughts
that go through my mind when seeing my work on the screen, neither of
them positive. The first is, 'That was really good: Whatever happened to
my talent?' The second is, 'That was no good: I never had any talent.'"