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May 21, 2005

Two Different Director's Cuts of the Same Pile of Dogshit

This is sort of interesting. I don't think it's happened before:

When your movie is shelved and you're fired, even the people closest to you assume your film was wretched. So Paul Schrader just wanted it seen.

Now his "Dominion Prequel to the Exorcist" is finally coming out....


It was deemed too cerebral and scare-free by the production company, Morgan Creek, which brought in Renny Harlin to do some reshoots. By the time Harlin was done, he had remade the movie, and Schrader's finished product was put in the can — to stay.


The two prequels can serve as a ready-made seminar for film schools, too.

"It is the easiest term paper imaginable: Compare and contrast. ... More likely the professor will say you can do a term paper on anything BUT the two "Exorcists," Schrader said, laughing.

The similarities include the same settings (East Africa); same general premise (how a young Father Merrin lost his faith and first encountered Satan); same star (Stellan Skarsgard); two of the same credited screenwriters (William Wisher and Caleb Carr, although Alexi Hawley did some heavy rewriting for Harlin); same cinematographer (Vittorio Storaro, a three-time Oscar winner for "The Last Emperor," "Reds" and "Apocalypse Now"); and several of the same supporting players.

But as any filmgoer familiar with their work might expect, the final products from Harlin and Schrader are quite different.

After all, Harlin's credits include "Deep Blue Sea," "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master," "Die Hard 2," "Cliffhanger" "The Long Kiss Goodnight," and, most recently, "Mindhunters." Schrader wrote "Taxi Driver" and "Raging Bull" and directed "Affliction."

Harlin's metier is horror and action; Schrader's the tortured souls of troubled men.


"During the course of the screening, I just kept feeling better and better. Because I was saying, `Boy, this is really bad. If this gets much worse, maybe my film has a chance. Maybe there will be a curiosity about what my film was like.' Because what would have been the worst scenario for me was if Renny's film was pretty good. Then we wouldn't be sitting here, and my film would be forever lost."

I wasn't a fan of MST3K, but I do love watching wretched movies and ragging on them. (One of the best for these purposes: the vile King Arthur film First Knight. Hilarious.)

Both of these movies must be positively hideous, but I'm looking forward to getting them both on Netflix and seeing which path to failure each director chose.

This does seem like a bit of publicity stunt-- taking a second bite at the apple after the public spit the first rotten bite out -- and an attempt to recoup losses.

Still, I think it's pretty interesting, stunt or not. The movies are terrible, but it's an interesting glimpse into the creative process, and into creative failure. In stereo.

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posted by Ace at 04:41 PM

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