In 1971 a book was published that would be adapted only two years later into a film that would become one of the most iconic horror stories of all time: “The Exorcist”. The supremely memorable scenes depicted in the movie – most especially the crazy-crawling, head-twisting, (pea soup) vomit-spilling supernatural feats of the central character, the possessed victim – cemented its reputation and timeless scary quality, thanks to the method acting enforced by director William Friedkin, along with the close assistance of the book’s author William Peter Blatty, who wrote the film story and served as producer.

His name has been counted among the best writers of the horror genre, which is why a lot of people are grieving for him upon his death this past Thursday, January 12.

Horrifying story, nice writer

Blatty died at the age of 89 in a Bethesda, Maryland hospital according to his widow Julie Alicia Blatty. The cause was reported as multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer, of which Blatty had been diagnosed with on a month before. He and his wife have been married for 33 years, and he was remembered by Julie as a “generous, loving, hysterical husband, father and grandfather,” who was more than just interested in scaring people with his famous “Exorcist” novel and film, as he did co-writing duties in the screenplay for Peter Sellers’ “Pink Panther” sequel, “A Shot in the Dark”.

The Exorcist” in both book and film revolves around a young girl, Regan McNeill who was portrayed by Linda Blair, and her ordeal of being possessed by a demon identified as the Babylonian demon Pazuzu. Although the novel was more mundane in describing her possession, the film was more graphic and terrifying in depicting the horrors wrought by Pazuzu, even as two priests, the spiritually-tested Damian Karras and the older Lankester Merrin, who had exorcised Pazuzu from a possessed host years before, attempt to save her from the demon’s malevolent control.

The book had one sequel from Blatty, “Legion” (1983) while the film spawned three sequels and two prequels, along with a television series sequel on Fox.

Condolences and accolades

Blatty’s death was mourned and his legacy celebrated by his associates from the film, and fellow horror writers. “The Exorcist” director William Friedkin called him a brother from his condolences on Twitter, while horror master Stephen King addressed him as Old Bill, writer of “the great horror novel of our time”.

No funeral plans have been announced, but Julia Blatty requested donations rather than flowers, to be given to the LC Pastoral Services of the Legionaries of Christ and the Solidarity with the Persecuted Church organization. Talks are also abound regarding a second season of the Fox series.