William Friedkin, the Oscar-winning director behind the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, has sadly passed away today at 87 years old.
Friedkin, part of the the 'New Hollywood' movement of the 1970s, changed the face of horror cinema forever when he adapted William Peter Blatty's demonic horror novel The Exorcist. Starring Linda Blair, Ellen Burstyn and Jason Miller, the story of a young girl possessed by the demon Pazuzu is widely regarded as one of the best horror movies of all-time, breaking financial records of the time, scarring millions of young minds, winning Oscars and earning itself a ban in several countries. Countless horror filmmakers have cited Friedkin's work as the reason they entered the genre in the first place.
Friedkin's other impressive genre contributions included Sorcerer, the Al Pacino-starring thriller Cruising, and 2006's Bug. Friedkin also directed episodes of HBO’s Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone.
His 1971 neo-noir thriller, The French Connection, is widely considered one of the greatest movies ever made, and in 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"
His final film, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial, starring Kiefer Sutherland, is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Friedkin is survived by wife Sherry Lansing and two sons. All of us at FANGORIA would like to extend our condolences to William's family and friends. May he rest in peace.
For more, read our retrospective interview with Friedkin on his often overlooked thriller based on "The Vampire of Sacramento," Rampage.