In 1973 “The Exorcist” hit the silver screen. Dubbed one of the scariest movies of all-time, the film told the story of a young girl’s possession, and the holy men who gave themselves to try and save her from hell’s embrace. The picture became an immortal masterpiece of fear that has remained iconic to the present and beyond.
And one of the most frightful images from said film is the ghostly white face of actress Eileen Dietz as the demon “Pazuzu,” who is responsible for said possession and its resulting havoc. Now publisher Author Mike Ink, Ms. Dietz and coauthor Daniel Loubier have released “Exorcising My Demons: An Actresses’ Journey to The Exorcist and Beyond,” her autobiography.
In the book the authors tell the story of Ms. Dietz’s beginnings and her struggle to become an actress in a cut throat field. From being the insecure middle sister of a family who did not support her chosen profession, to struggling with odd jobs in New York; Ms. Dietz has indeed paid her dues. Stories of seedy summer stock theatre casting couches and Broadway gone wrong are interspaced with how she landed the role that would cement her as a horror starlet, and also lead her down the road to controversy.
Loubier, who has also penned a cracking zombie novel himself called “Dead Summit,” aids the actress with excellent writing that is clear, smooth and thoroughly engaging to the reader. The book is part autobiography and part actor experience. Each time Ms. Dietz goes on an audition, she relays circumstance, interaction and event in a way that anyone looking to enter show business will find helpful with their own pursuits. There is a “this is what happens in the salad days” tone that’s an interesting look into the acting process.
The writers also touch upon the drama that occurred after the release of “The Exorcist,” when Director William Friedkin’s desire for the public to think young Linda Blair played every scene in the move, despite some of them being objectionable for a minor was revealed. (An inquisitive friend of Ms. Dietz broke the story about her doubling for the child actress.) The director was furious and turned his back on Eileen as a result.
After this door closed, others eventually opened. A stint on the “Planet of the Apes” television show, and an introduction to horror conventions lead to other roles in the genre and a new relationship between Dietz and her fans.
In the end, the actress overcomes her own insecurities, a bad marriage, the negativity of show business and a storm of controversy. Proving that passion and the pursuit of a dream can result in positive results.
Overall, it’s an interesting and inspiring story, masterfully told by Dietz and Loubier. It is more than worth a read, and highly recommended. Copies can be purchased here.