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Saturday October 25rd, 2003
Nearly three months after Paul Schrader was excised as director of 'The Exorcist: The Beginning' the powers that be have found a new person to do the devil's dirty work.
That is: to remake and re-cut the shot footage to make it scarier and gorier.

Renny Harlin, best known for directing such action-heavy flicks as 'Die Hard 2', 'Cliffhanger' and 'Deep Blue Sea', is taking over the helm for the horror prequel, according to Daily Variety.

The director shuffle is the latest setback for a film that seems more cursed than any character in 'The Exorcist' franchise.

The film was initially to star Liam Neeson as the young incarnation of The Exorcist's Satan-battling priest Father Merrin (played in the 1973 original by Max von Sydow), with John Frankenheimer directing.

But Frankenheimer died last year, and Neeson subsequently dropped out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by Schrader, known more for his screenplays ('Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull') than directorial work ('Cat People', 'Affliction' and 'Auto Focus'), took over.

But shortly after Schrader wrapped shooting in Rome and Morocco and assembled a rough cut of the film, Morgan Creek bounced him from the project, citing "creative differences." In layman speak, that translates too "not enough vomit and guts."

"The whole movie is done," one production source explained to the New York Post in August. "When Paul went to turn it in, Morgan Creek refused to give him his postproduction money because they hated it. Paul had given them what was in the script--a creepy psychological thriller."

Novelist Caleb Carr, who co-wrote the screenplay, was slightly more diplomatic. "The problem with Paul's cut of the movie is it does not deliver the psychological fear we were looking for," he told the Post. "It does have some good dramatic elements which can be rearranged with some good shooting into a very good movie."

Now it's up to Harlin to do the re-arranging, ratchet up the pea-soup quotient and presumably make the prequel more salable.

He will have reportedly have six week for reshoots, beginning in mid-November. Despite Harlin's last-minute assist, Schrader's name will reportedly remain in the credits as director.

Reps for Morgan Creek, Warner Bros. and Harlin didn't immediately comment on the report. But that hasn't stopped the cast from sounding off.

"It's been a horrible experience," costar Gabriel Mann told E! Online movie columnist Anderson Jones earlier this month. (And that was before Mann found out he would have to spend six more weeks in cinematic hell.)

'The Exorcist: The Beginning', the fourth film in the horror series, chronicles Merrin's missionary work in post-World War II Africa and his first epic clash with Pazuzu, the demon that later possessed Linda Blair's Regan in 'The Exorcist'.

"Well, there go our careers!"

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