Possessed by Thomas Allen was originally published in 1993 by Doubleday. I am fortunate enough to have an original hardback copy I bought second hand fifteen years ago, while researching for my first novel, When Evil Visits. The inside of the front cover of Possessed sums up this fascinating book perfectly:
‘In August 1949, an article in the Washington Post caught the eye of William Peter Blatty, then an undergraduate: ‘Priest Frees Mt. Rainier Boy Reported Held in Devil’s Grip’, said the headline. The story went on to describe many of the bizarre and harrowing events that Blatty would later draw upon in his best selling novel The Exorcist and in the celebrated film of the same title: the scratchings in the attic, the lacerations on the child’s body, the cursing, the moving bed.
More than forty years later, a priest’s diary, hidden for all those years in a mysterious locked room in a St Louis mental hospital, came to light. It turned out to be a detailed account written by one of a team of Jesuits who had carried out a series of exorcisms of the boy (Roland Roe). This diary fell into the hands of Thomas Allen, who made a point of researching every fact and tracking down every living witness connected with the case, including the victim. The latter went on to live a normal life and is now a married man in his fifties.
Possessed, the result of Allen’s meticulous researches, describes in detail the best documented real-life exorcism in history – and the evidence he has uncovered is so shocking, so chilling and so credible that it needs no hyperbole. Suffice to say that as you read this book you will understand at last the force of the old maxim that truth is stranger than fiction.’
THOMAS B. ALLEN
Thomas Allen born 1929 is an American historian and author of sixteen books, amongst them Wargames, which Tom Clancy called ‘totally fascinating’ and ‘the standard work on the subject’. Possessed is his most famous book. It was reissued as a revised paperback in 2000 to coincide with the release of the film Possessed starring Timothy Dalton.
THE EXORCIST (The Film)
The Exorcist is an American supernatural horror film released on 26th December 1973, the screenplay by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name and starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow and Jason Miller. The book, inspired by the 1949 exorcism of Roland Roe, deals with the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and her mother’s attempts to win back her child through an exorcism conducted by two Jesuit priests.
The adaptation has been a massive commercial success. The film experienced a troubled production; even in the beginning, several prestigious film directors including Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Penn turned it down. Incidents, such as the toddler son of one of the main actors being hit by a motorbike and hospitalized, attracted claims that the set was cursed. The complex special effects used as well as the nature of the film locations also presented severe challenges.
In 1973 the film had a budget of $12 million and up to 2017 had taken $441.3 million and is regarded as one of the best horror films in history. It is the top grossing horror film of all time and was the second most popular film of 1974, The Sting being number one.
In 1974The Exorcist was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning two. One by William Peter Blatty for Writing Adapted Screenplay and by Robert Knudson and Chris Newman for Best Sound Mixing.
The same year the film was nominated for seven Golden Globes and won four: Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director – William Friedkin, Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture – Linda Blair and Best Screenplay – William Peter Blatty.
Blatty had no involvement in the film sequel The Exorcist 11: The Heretic in 1977 which was a flop critically and commercially.
THE EXORCIST (The Book)
Introduction by the author William Peter Blatty:
‘The terror began unobtrusively. Noises in Regan’s room, an odd smell, misplaced furniture, an icy chill. Small annoyances for which Chris MacNeil, Regan’s actress mother, easily found explanations. The changes in eleven year old Regan were so gradual, too, that Chris did not recognise for some time how much her daughter’s behaviour had altered. Even when she did, the medical tests which shed no light on Regan’s symptoms, which grew more severe and frightening. It was almost as if a different personality had invaded the child. Desperate, Chris turned from the doctors to Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest who was trained as a psychiatrist and had a deep knowledge of such phenomena as satanism and possession. Was it possible that a demonic force was at large? If psychiatry could not help, might exorcism be the answer?’
This is the first edition hardback cover first published in 1971 by Harper and Row.
The book has sold more than 13 million copies.
WILLIAM PETER BLATTY
William Peter Blatty was born 7th January 1928 in New York. Prior to the success of The Exorcist, in the 60’s Blatty was a prolific script writer for stars such as Danny Kaye, Julie Andrews, Rock Hudson and director Blake Edwards but it was his 1971 novel that propelled him to the top of The New York Times bestseller list for 17 weeks and remained on the list for 57 consecutive weeks.
In 1978 he wrote the psychological drama The Ninth Configuration, first published in 1966 as Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane.
In 1983 he released Legion, a sequel to The Exorcist and was adapted in to the film The Exorcist 111.
Blatty had been working on a novel called Dimiter (also released under the title The Redemption) since 1974, during the production of The Exorcist and it was published in 2010 through Forge Books.
His last novel, Crazy was released in November 2010 through Forge Books.
On 12th January 2017 William Peter Blatty died in hospital of multiple myeloma at the age of 89 years.