Saurav Dutt has been a life-long fan of movies, especially the works of William Friedkin and the horror genre. Having written successfully in a number of genres he has found his home amidst the terrifying world of horror, his new book- Pazuzu Unbound allows readers to see a side of the enduring Exorcist Legacy that has never before been exposed.
We sat down with Saurav to discuss the book and how he approached writing about one of the most successful franchises in horror film history.
What gave you the inspiration to write Pazuzu Unbound?
The impending Blu-Ray release of the Exorcist box set encouraged me to revisit all the films and I was particularly struck by the combined horror and philosophy in Paul Schrader’s ‘Dominion’ as well as ‘Exorcist III: Legion’; it made me realise that a return to a serious and psychological horror story was necessary and bringing back Pazazu would be a great way to do it. As I was initially plotting the story, customising artwork and tying up the themes I was sent a good luck message by William Friedkin (director of ‘The Exorcist’, ‘French Connection’) which inspired me to complete the book to be as powerful and resonant as it could be. The Exorcist legacy is loved by so many horror fans and the demonic possession/exorcism genre has been destroyed and corrupted by so many terrible books and movies that concentrate on the ‘action’ and fail to understand the psychological horror that made the initial books and films work. I did not want to leave that uncorrected.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I wanted to write a book about demonic possession that took its subject seriously and tied the story of Pazazu to the inherent flaws in the human psyche-the characters in the book are mostly irredeemable, they represent the ills of society, the worst parts of human nature-all elements the devil, Pazazu and the supernatural feed upon for energy to thrive and grow their ‘legion’. I also wanted a theological aspect to the horror, to not beat the reader over the head with religion and philosophy but to explain that the Exorcist story is so compelling because it tries to understand man’s sometimes flawed relationship with God, its fear of the Devil and that an entity like Pazazu represents both aspects and is closer to their own nature than they might first realise or acknowledge.
How long did it take to write and how difficult is it as an author to write about a film that is sealed in horror supremacy, did you feel pressured at all knowing that you have a large fan base to appeal too?
Pazazu Unbound started off as three separate stories that had been lying around for a few years-they were all united by demonic aspects, devil worship and characters converging upon a desecrated holy site. Once I decided it was time to take the gamble and resurrect Pazazu in the public horror psyche, the choice was inevitable to me. No other demonic figure conjures up memories, fear and expectation like Pazazu due to the immediate link with the films. Yes there was a lot of pressure, but I know as a horror fan myself that I respect intelligence amongst the terror and once I had Friedkin’s wishes and blessing, I knew I had to finish it-you can’t get a blessing of good luck from a better source.
Can you give us an overview of what the book is about and what we can look forward to within its contents?
We start with a fast paced scene set inside the site of demon worship where a small girl dies in the arms of a priest sent to save her; unfortunately for him she is not quite dead in the conventional sense..We then are introduced to multiple stories of several characters, all of whom end up at the same site for very different reasons. The site itself is used for human sacrifices made to the demon lord to resurrect him-some will try to escape, others will be destroyed, others will meet a more terrible fate.
As an overview the book contains possessions, exorcisms, tightly written passages of suspense and a very close guardianship of character-I hope the reader will find that some of the most terrifying aspects of Pazuzu Unbound are not so much the elements that make up Pazazu and his cult following but the inherent evil in man that Pazuzu thrives on. So much like Dominion and Exorcist III there is a creeping psychology to each scene as well as an undercurrent of nihilism and violence that brings out the inhumanity amongst these characters. Pazuzu is not a saviour but a beast breeding on the hatred and contempt stirring within every human being-that reflects the apathy of general society and the times we currently live in.
When writing this book, how many times did you have to watch the exorcist to make sure every detail was correct?
I went through the whole set, particularly Legion (Part III) and Dominion-I watched the original because I did not want to insult the craftsmanship and hard work of William Friedkin (he will have a copy of the book itself) and so tried best to understand what Pazazu represented and how terrifying the non-possession scenes were because they concentrated on character not just the grisly action sequences. Of course a great deal of historical research was undertaken to understand what Pazazu represents and the mythology behind the demon itself.
Are you a big horror fan, if so what are some of your favorite horror movies?
Horror is a major part of my artistic nature-this is my first serious horror novel despite having written many supernatural short stories. I tackled an ambitious project first because I want horror audiences to realise how seriously I take their concerns about a genre which often dissipates into nonsensical, aesthetically pleasing efforts that fail to appreciate their desires and the underlying craft at hand. Favourite films: The Exorcist legacy, The Omen, Halloween, Ninth Configuration, Serpent & The Rainbow, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, Horror of Dracula are just a few..
Do you have any books you will be working on in the future that you can tell us about?
There are a few already in the major stages of pre-production. The first is ‘Cannibal Metropolis’ a sequel to the infamous Ruggero Deodato film ‘Cannibal Holocaust’ which is definitely one for horror/zombie fans and which I have already received a lot of support and interest for over at my website www.sauravdutt.com; ‘Wild Horses’ which is an adaptation of an original idea the actor Mickey Rourke first ran by me in an interview (he hopes to one day write the screenplay and film it) regarding two brothers who are reunited and ‘The Butterfly Room’ which concerns prejudices against homosexuality in multicultural society. There is also a Val Kilmer biography which has been dragging its heels but which I hope to complete.