Because sometimes all you really want is the myth. Sometimes you don’t wanna go no further than half-coherent ramblins caught in fragments in the campfire glow, sometimes you never wanna discover that the fleece weren’t all that golden, that Narcissus had a jaw-fulla acne most of his days, that Buddy Holly’s sex limb was fairly average, truth be told.
The fuck wants to deal with information of the sort?
So you get knife-fights, grown men on street-corners cutting the flesh offa one another’s teeth on account of “Actually, the Midas touch was really more of a light bronze.”
So you get folks shudderin in the shadows in bars reekin a opium and disillusionment, folks huddling gainst the point where the two walls meet the floor, muttering something or other about “We couldn’t have known, ain’t really our fault, truth be told.”
What couldn’t you know? What ain’t your fault, fucker?
And what they say is “It turns out Exorcist – The Beginning was the better flick after all. Dear Jehovah and the Infant Choirs, it turns out Schrader’s version was fucking awful.”
Nobody needs to know this, on account of we had a damn cause to defend, and it turns out the cause weren’t really that worthy of defence in the first place.
How could we have known?
And the pagans at the mercy of crusading knights, they’re screamin “How could we have known??? We were led to believe this was right!!”
Cause it all reeked a shameful cuntery, how Morgan Creek slapped poor ol’ Paul Schrader upside the yap with talk a “No, fucker, not only do we not particularly like your Exorcist prequel, but we’re gonna hire him what did Cliffhanger for to remake the damn thing and replace all that theological banter you got goin on with a buncha nonsense about possessed nurses and CGI hyenas rippin the limbs offa youngsters.”
And lo, the howling and the gnashing.
The fuck do they get the nuts for to tell Schrader he’s bein too heavy with the theological banter?
Chances are ain’t no-one but a fella set on wankin himself to death in the next 12 minutes would expect anything other than heavy theological banter from a Schrader-carved Exorcist flick.
So we wanted spinnin necks and far-flung puke and hollers long the lines of “Your cunting daughter!” and no, the hell’s this, Schrader, buncha balls about tortured masculinity and the nature of evil.
The hell did they expect, is what we all got to thinking.
What they expected, it turns out, was a nurse goin all green about the face and CGI about the legs, racing around in the dark squawking about “Fuck me!”
A whole buncha bullshit that Exorcist: The Beginning was, but dig this, aye, fuck my eyes if I wouldn’t watch it every day for a decade and never once tire of its relentlessly tasteless genius.
And then, yes;
Sat by the bus-stop in the October drizzle, and a young lad with a mullet and a t-shirt says Your Mother Sucks Cocks In Hell, he’s pointing a finger at me, he’s saying it was ridiculous, it was an embarrassment, that Harlin catastrophe, 90 minutes a direst drivel, a blight on the Good Name of that flick about a young lass does herself with a crucifix.
Ridiculous, he spits, all green chunks an’ reekin a delirious blasphemies.
And what The Duke says is baby chill now baby, listen now;
No-one, not Schrader nor Harlin nor the blessed Buddha born again in downtown LA, no-one could take this story, i.e, what happened back in the day before Father Merrin pulled up outside yonder homestead in the streetlight glow, no-one could take this tale as is and make it anything less than inherently ridiculous.
No-one, baby, sayin no-one.
Cause Harlin’s flick and Schrader’s flick, they both got the same plot buried neath the rubble.
Father Merrin, tormented on account of a horrendous choice he made in the presence of the Nazi’s during WW2, he’s now shown up in Africa, kinda empty round the faith-glands, investigating a church that’s been uncovered by a buncha archaeological types, church shouldn’t be there, by all rights, and yet there it is, clear as day.
Both flicks got a buncha stuff goin on about how once the church is opened, all sortsa Hellish monstrosities start prowling round the corners of the frame, none more Hellish than the CGI hyenas which we were all led to believe were Harlin-specific inventions, and then no, here they are, fucking ridiculous as ever, growling pixellated on yonder hills.
In Harlin’s version what happens is a nurse at the local hospital turns out to be a possessed demon from the guts of Satan’s balls, and all the while the local Zulu are getting set for a face-off gainst the British army.
In Schrader’s version, it’s a patient at the hospital who gets all Satanic in the kidneys, and all the while the local Zulu are getting set for a face-off gainst the British army.
The difference is the tone, see, how the gibberish is approached.
Harlin decided the thing to do was approach it as an action epic, so plenty gore flung left and right, plenty demented set-pieces, have the priests get into the church via a hole in the ceiling, all the better for shots of folks dangling on ropes etc.
It was a schlock-fest with occasional moments of half-arsed “philosophical” banter.
Schrader decided no, what it is, is a drama about the Human Condition, so plenty discussions between characters concerning Why Does God Let This Happen, plenty anguished glances, have the priests wander into the church via the front door, since who can discuss Existentialism when dangling from a damn rope thirty feet from the ground?
It’s a Character Piece with occasional moments of diabolically shitty schlock theatrics.
And the fella at the bus-stop, all accusatory, “See, that’s what your problem is, you can’t cope with a flick deals with Big Issues.”
And no, sorry baby but fuck you baby, truth is I wanted nothing more in the world than an Exorcist flick that dealt with the Big Issues, just that what I got was an Exorcist flick that thinks its dealing with Big Issues, when really, you’re better off buying The Big Issue, since not only have you paid for someone to grab a burger or a pack a smokes, but also, there’s a bit at the back tells you what flicks are worth seeing, and so you can avoid shite like this altogether.
Because Schrader’s effort, it’s almost as empty as Harlin’s. What all this intellectual pondering amounts to, it turns out, is maybe a couple lines about “Why does God let bad things happen?”
“Why do people do bad things under harsh circumstances?”
“Why are good people capable of evil, given the right nudge?”
There ain’t a terrible lot of elaboration on it all, neither. Most times what we learn is that oh, it’s cause a Satan. Most times we get burdened with the kinda half-formed nonsense nobody would give any credence to for half a damn syllable, and if they do, most likely they’re fifteen years old and in love with a lass thinks they smell like dead emu.
Because baby ain’t no way around it, this is just fucking awful.
Harlin’s was awful too, but my god was it fun.
This is just painful, and mostly on account of how all that yacking about “Ooh, it’s a more cerebral affair, that’s why they shelved it”, that turns out to be a loada wank dust setllin in the corners of the footwear.
Nobody says anything worth listening to for a second, characters are under-developed, and worse, Schrader opens his film with a glimpse of real evil by way of a WW2-set flashback (handled with a hella lot more taste than Harlin’s reprise, i.e, no CGI blood splatters out infants heads, no Bond Villain Nazis) then spends the last forty minutes expecting us to be moved or scared or whatever the fuck by a fella floating a few feet above an altar growling in the kinda voice nobody this side of 1959 would ever for a second consider even mildly unsettling.
And I’m saying to Sir Fleming, what I’m pointing out is that what makes it all truly soul-destroying is the moments when the flick transcends the shite either side, thunders horseback long some shimmering celestial plane and for that moment, when the clouds a mediocrity part for long enough, you see what coulda been.
You see that sometimes Schrader thinks about heading in the direction Bergman circa-1969 or Fahey circa-1997 would maybe a ran towards, all tortured suicidal twitches, all gunshots gainst the rocks, and the blood and brains hangin from the jagged stone, the color of a humanity terrified of being nothing more.
And then it’s CGI hyenas and hovering bove the altars and clunky dialogue and stupid fucking stereotypical snarls from every direction.
Don’t it make you just wanna grab hold your face by the jaws and tear the flesh offa the bone and then maybe fling the flesh at folks outside the windows, look at them there, hollerin back, “G’on ya fuck, what’s this all about, the flesh flung at ma new strides?” and the answer;
Because it was supposed to be amazing! Didn’t you see the talkbacks and the forums and the newsgroups, God almighty, it became an Urban Legend almost, The Great Lost Schrader Exorcist Flick, like the ghost in 3 Men And A Baby, and then what happens, you realize the ghost was just a cut-out a Ted bastard Danson.
Fuck you Danson!
I want my myth back!
You realize Jandek is a fairly ordinary fella now playing gigs left and right and looking for all the world like a real life human being.
Fuck you Jandek!
I want my myth back!
You go through the last year of a dyin relationship convinced that, ah well, least when it falls to mangled fuck, least I’ll be able to investigate all those feminine (or “other”) avenues been bricked off all this time, and then, yeah, you realize, everyone’s “seeing someone” and worse, the ones who ain’t aren’t overly excited about the prospect, the whole how bout we maybe go see a flick then I can maybe let you hear a song I wrote about the time you walked past for a second on your way to someplace divine just outta my line a vision?
Fuck you Bragg!
I want my myth back!
You realize, I say, that this flick you obsessed over for the best part of too long, you realize it’s just a flick, and not even a very good one at that, and to be honest, the one with the possessed nurse was sixty-nine times more endearing.
And the lass with the Ricci-esque demeanour, she says “Yeah, and your review of Exorcist – The Beginning was a hell of a lot more fun too.”
And a sigh, and an oh, what’s this, talk of some Welles flick done got buggered by the studios, ain’t never gonna be seen by anyone, fuck my eyes, it’s a masterpiece, I’ll bet!!
Further Reading – The Duke On Exorcist – The Beginning
The Duke resides at Mondo Irlando