The Ninth Configuration (William Peter Blatty, 1980)
Somewhere in the Northwest United States stands the creepiest castle on the continent. It’s become the asylum for a dozen or so washed-up soldiers who cracked under pressure. From out of the thick fog comes Colonel Vincent Kane (Stacy Keach), the new psychiatrist. His treatment methods could be seen as unsound. He adopts an open-door policy and indulges the patients’ fantasies. He and the other officials even don Nazi uniforms while the patients play act The Great Escape.
Steeped in movie references, The Ninth Configuration follows Kane’s relationship with Captain Billy Cutshaw (Scott Wilson). Both men engage in wild theological discussions that traverse the insane to the sublime, as Cutshaw looks for a sign of altruism in a world of destruction and madness.
With crackling dialogue and spectacular performances from Wilson and Keach (perhaps his best role ever), it’s truly a wonder that The Ninth Configuration was William Peter Blatty’s freshman film. Atmospheric and utterly enjoyable, the film serves as a true sequel to William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” (which Blatty wrote and adapted). In The Ninth Configuration (based upon Blatty’s “Twinkle Twinkle ‘Killer’ Kane”), the author/filmmaker expands the story of Captain Cutshaw, who made an appearance in The Exorcist (the possessed Reagan tells him he’ll die “up there”), just as he would expand the role of Lieutenant Kinderman in The Exorcist III. — Mike White
[tags]The Ninth Configuration, William Peter Blatty, Stacy Keach, Scott Wilson, The Exorcist, The Exorcist III[/tags]