Scream Horror Magazine


Posted on: August 9th, 2023

It is with very heavy hearts that we report William Friedkin, best known for directing 1973’s horror classic The Exorcist, died August 7th aged 87.

Beginning his career as a mail clerk at a local television station, by age 18 Friedkin was directing live television and documentaries for the network. Friedkin began his career in features in 1967 with Good Times, a vehicle for Sonny Bono and Cher. In later years the director referred to the film as “unwatchable” and was unsurprised it flopped at the box-office.

For the next few years Friedkin would find favour with critics but achieve very little success at the box-office with The Birthday Party, The Night They Raided Minsky’s and The Boys in the Band. The director’s career would go stratospheric in 1971 with the release of the neo-noir crime thriller The French Connection. The film would earn $75 million at the box-office and net a plethora of awards, including the Best Director and Best Actor Oscars.

1973 saw Friedkin gain the job that would come to define him, when he was first-choice to direct an adaption of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. A controversial movie to say the least, The Exorcist would shock the world with its unflinching portrayal of the demonic inhabiting an innocent. Becoming known as “the scariest film of all time,” the movie would go on to net $400 million at the box-office, becoming the highest grossing film of all time for several years.

In the wake of The Exorcist, Friedkin remained in demand, but never quite reached the same professional heights. In 1981, the director ignited controversy with the crime-horror-thriller Cruising. The film’s depiction of gay culture offended many, resulting in protests and a film that was largely unsuccessful.

Friedkin’s other notable projects over the years include 1985’s To Live and Die in LA, the 1987 thriller Rampage, 1991’s supernatural tale The Guardian, 2000’s Rules of Engagement and 2006’s cult classic Bug.

At the time of his passing, Friedkin was in post-production for his latest project, The Caine Mutiny Court-Marshall, starring Kiefer Sutherland. This project is now slated to premiere posthumously at the Venice Film Festival.

William Friedkin is survived by his fourth wife Sherry Lansing and his two children, he was 87. Rest in peace, Mr. Friedkin.

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