'Exorcist' director is fired for not being gory enough for cinema audiences

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The Independent Culture

For horror movie lovers, it is the equivalent of a Bond movie without deadly gadgets - an Exorcist prequel lacking in blood and projectile vomiting.

The producers of Exorcist IV: The Beginning, the latest in the series, have parted ways with the director Paul Schrader after the gore quotient failed to meet expectations.

Morgan Creek Films, whose previous movies include Exorcist III, was yesterday reported to have ordered some scenes in the £30m film to be reshot to satisfy cinema audiences' thirst for blood.

Schrader, a contemporary of Steven Spielberg, is thought to have concentrated too much on making a classy psychological thriller. Agents for the cerebral director, whose films include Rolling Thunder and The Comfort of Strangers, refused to comment on claims that Morgan Creek had fired him last week and withheld a payment due when the film was finished. One source involved with the production told the New York Post: "There were huge fights between Paul, who is more artistic, and the company. They are planning on hiring a new director to reshoot some scenes."

The original Exorcist film, starring Max von Sydow as the middle-aged Father Merrin, earned instant notoriety on its release in 1973 for its graphic portrayal of a possessed girl whose talents included rotating her head 360 degrees. The film was banned on video in the United States and Britain.

The latest instalment in the Exorcist saga, summed up by its tagline "God is not here", stars the Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard as a young Father Merrin. Morgan Creek, based in Hollywood, said it was still planning to release the film early next year. The company will be hoping to benefit from the current popularity of graphic horror movies.

In the US, Freddy vs Jason, is topping the box office charts by taking $36m (£24m) during its first weekend. When the original Exorcist was re- released in 2000, it took $39m (£26m) worldwide.