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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

You can't out-exorcist The Exorcist: on Emily Rose

Edward Douglas from ComingSoon asks Exorcism of Emily Rose writer-director Scott Derrickson about inevitable comparisons: “I am a big fan of that picture, but I think if you’re going to make an exorcism movie of any kind, you have a certain burden to carry… The subject matter is profoundly compelling, and I think that everybody knows it is a real phenomenon out in the world whether you believe there’s anything spiritual to it or not. It happens. People get exorcisms. There are lots of stories of cases, and that fact alone makes it interesting. What I wanted to do was approach the subject matter in a less exploitive way, because you can’t out-exorcist The Exorcist. You have to almost go under it… To really frighten a contemporary audience you just can’t do that with special effects and sound and camera tricks. [There] are manipulative tricks of the trade that were implemented that were extraordinary at the time, but now that same sort of approach has been used in a million different horror films… My intention was for the effectiveness of the horror elements and the exorcism itself to be rooted in the reality of these real characters, portrayed by great actors, and for the phenomenon that you watch to be very counterintuitive, but not over the top… What we’re trying to do is make a movie that’s a little bit more of an exploration of what does [an exorcism] really look like, what’s the range of possibilities there and what can it mean?”

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon