William Friedkin – horror and terror were his trademark ++ Blatty, Polanski, King

William Friedkin, the film director, revered for his early successes in The French Connection and The Exorcist in the 1970s, has died.

  In The French Connection, brutal cops, Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider track a French heroin smuggler in a  raw, violent, and cynical documentary-style movie which won five Academy Awards.

  Two years later The Exorcist about a 12-year-old girl, who undergoes a harrowing Roman Catholic exorcism to free her from possession by a demon earned him another Academy Award nomination for Best Director. News media reported cinemagoers fainting and vomiting in their seats, and people leaving the theatre shaking and screaming. A cultural phenomenon and one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, it was hailed by some as the greatest horror movie ever made. He continued working for the next several decades up to his death but none ever reached the heights of his early success.

  Friedkin was born 29 August 1935 6.40 am Chicago, IL, and had a 12th house Sun, Moon, Neptune conjunction in Virgo opposition Saturn and trine an 8th house Uranus. His 12th house would be good for creativity, as would his Saturn opposition Neptune and suit him for a behind-the-camera career. The Virgo emphasis making him focused, finicky and hard-working though there’s a regretful, discontented quality to that combination of planets. He also had Pluto trine Mars Jupiter in Scorpio which makes more sense of the ruthlessness in his movies and the fear. Uranus in his 8th would give him the urge to shine light on the occult or what lies deep down in the darkness.

 His personal life was mixed with three short-lived marriages before he struck it lucky with his 4th to Sherry Lansing, former film studio executive and philanthropist, whom he married in 1991 and was with him to the end. She’s a stalwart Sun Pluto in Leo with an upbeat Jupiter in Virgo which would lift his gloomier tendencies – and her Chiron was conjunct his Neptune.

He had a marked 17th harmonic chart indicating he would leave a  legacy behind which makes sense since he is reckoned to have revolutionized the horror genre. It links together brutality/fear with Mars Pluto – and high-grade neurosis with Saturn Neptune.  But his strongest harmonic was his 10th indicating an individual who would be thrown high by the gods of fate and as the wheel of fortune turned would sink low again.

Pic: GuillemMedina

ADD ON: William Peter Blatty, author of the original novel The Exorcist was born 7 January 1928 4am New York, had a 2nd house Sun Mercury in Capricorn opposition and 8th house Moon Pluto in Cancer – which would make sense of his obsession with a dark interior world. Though oddly his earlier writing were comic perhaps due to his Mars in Sagittarius square Jupiter Uranus in Pisces. He was brought up in abject poverty by a single mother who was deeply religious.  

Roman Polanski, 18 August 1933 10.30am Paris, France, director of Rosemary’s Baby, was left on his own as a child in Nazi-occupied Poland to which the family had returned, after both his parents were captured.   He also has a starkly emphasised Pluto Moon in Cancer in his 10th square Mars opposition Uranus – controlling, influential, a life riven with crises and catastrophes, including his conviction for under-age sexual assault.

  Stephen King, the author best known for horror fiction, 21 September 1947 1.30am Portland ME, a Virgo Sun square Uranus, with Saturn Pluto in Leo in his 1st and Mars in Cancer conjunct his Ascendant from the 12th. He was also brought up in poverty by a single mother.  It does not seem such a scary chart as the two above.

8 thoughts on “William Friedkin – horror and terror were his trademark ++ Blatty, Polanski, King

  1. I didn’t get to see the film till years later. But I bought the book behind my mum’s back. I was scared stiff! So I suppose that she was right to not allow me to see the film. But I thought the book was far more frightening.

  2. Curiously, Stephen King also a Virgo, a sign I believe to be humanistic, and not capable of such imaginary horror. It’s all in the aspects. I saw the “Exorcist” when very young also, entertaining – but never believed in the ‘Devil’ as such. Rosemary’s baby way more harrowing and believable – all those everyday people -so sinister- with no clue of their own darkness.

  3. I remember when the Exorcist came out. I begged my mother to take me as I was way underage. She finally agreed and I lived to regret it because Mom was terrified and wouldn’t go to the basement alone for years. I had to accompany her and when I complained she reminded me that I dragged her to that movie. Oddly I hadn’t been scared at all and thought the Exorcist overrated but loved the French Connection.

  4. I thought it was worth posting this quote from the distinguished film critic, Roger Ebert:

    The year 1973 began and ended with cries of pain. It began with Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers,” and it closed with William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist.” Both films are about the weather of the human soul, and no two films could be more different. Yet each in its own way forces us to look inside, to experience horror, to confront the reality of human suffering. The Bergman film is a humanist classic. The Friedkin film is an exploitation of the most fearsome resources of the cinema. That does not make it evil, but it does not make it noble, either.

  5. I remember as a grade school kid in the early- to mid-’70s that a UFO panic or obsession was concurrently happening. Then “Jaws” came out a bit later that decade too. Neptune had recently entered Scorpio in 1970… we were swimming in dark waters inhabited by monsters that had formerly been confined to our nightmares, now forced to face them with our conscious minds.

  6. Maybe it’s because I also have a Mars/Pluto sextile with my Mars in Scorpio and Pluto in Virgo that I am a fan. One of my favourite Friedkin films is the underrated ‘Sorcerer’ 1977, which had the misfortune to be released at the same time as ‘Star Wars’ and was consequently eclipsed. Despite its supernatural title, ‘Sorcerer’ is a gripping tale of disparate characters coming together to transport a truck full of unstable dynamite across the Columbian wilderness.

    It’s arguable that it was in fact Polanski’s film, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ 1968 which first popularised the idea of Satanism and possession in the horror genre, but it was The Exorcist which truly brought it to the fore. It’s interesting to ask why at this particular moment in history the subject gripped the public, but it does coincide with both Pluto’s position on the cusp of Virgo/Libra and that of Neptune on Scorpio/Sagittarius as well as the American public’s growing disillusionment with the Vietnam War, the end of the 60s, beginning of the 79s and the decline of the Hippy movement. In August of 1969, the murder of Sharon Tate by the Manson family shocked the world. The youthful idealism, freedom and permissiveness of the earlier part of the decade had to an extent gradually eroded away, exposing darkness, sexual exploitation, addiction and death beneath – Plutonic and Neptunian themes.

    The Exorcist was first released in the U.S. on 26 December 1973, synchronous with a cardinal T-square on Pluto in early Libra squaring both Saturn in Cancer and Sun in old devil Capricorn – most fitting, considering the subject matter and domestic setting of the film. A Mystic Rectangle formation consisting of Saturn in Cancer opposition Sun in Capricorn and with Mars in Taurus opposition Uranus in late Libra which may point to the shock and discomfort the film caused to some viewers as well as the Moon in Capricorn’s square to Uranus. Jupiter sextiles Neptune in Sagittarius which reflects the movie’s religious themes – apparently many more people began attending church after watching the film at the time. Film critic Rob Agers has produced some very intriguing videos, discussing the underlying themes of the film, its subtext and construction – worth seeking out on YT for anyone interested.


    • Thanks Marjorie, and VF. The Exorcist was a powerful moment for horror films, and a period when folk horror and Satanic themes were very popular. The Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil had been a hit in 1968. And as VF mentions, Rosemary’s Baby was another film with Satanic themes. As was The Devil Rides Out, 1968.

      William Peter Blatty wrote the screenplay for the film, and the novel that preceded it. The novel, 1st May, 1971, has a Grand Trine in Earth of Mars 28 Capricorn, Saturn 23 Taurus, and Pluto 27 Virgo aligned with Black Moon Lilith at 26 Virgo. That connection seems quite descriptive of themes of possession – and the young girl being almost abducted by the demon. The book also has Neptune in early Sagittarius conjunct Jupiter, for religious or spiritual themes, and a Mercury in Aries square Mars, for all that rage and violence.

      • The book is good, Jane and the film is very faithful to the novel.

        There is definitely something in the quality of time of that era and the evolution of the Satanic in the horror genre as well as what we now call ‘folk horror’, as you mention. Btw, the same conjunction of Jupiter/Neptune in late Scorpio and early Sagittarius respectively occurs in the chart of another fim of that year, Ken Russell’s ‘The Devils’ based on the Loudon possessions which occurred at an Ursuline Convent in 1634. And in January of 1974, another British horror was released – ‘The Wicker Man’ which horror buffs hold in high esteem as the prototypical folk horror movie. In the same month and year, another early folk horror, ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’ directed by Piers Haggard with similar themes of Pagan revival, abandonment of Christian values and morality and a return to a dark past of human sacrifice and nature worship. Later in the decade, The Omen was released, this time Satan himself has incarnated into the world, destined to become the bringer of chaos and destruction. Overall, the themes of good vs evil, faith vs doubt loom large in these movies.

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