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After a textured, inventive departure from the Satanic norm (The Uninvited, 1982), Farris returns to his noisy, pulpy formula--this time s longwinded Exorcist replay, complete with all those yucky special-effects of demonic possession. The possessed? Yale grad-student Rich Devon, who comes to Vermont for a ski-week with preppy girlfriend Karyn--and soon is trying to rescue a twelve-year-old girl from a band of secret Satanic cultists. But Rich's attempts to rescue the sexy, bedeviled youngster are doomed: he is soon raping the girl, as ""the creature flew down to claim him""; now demonic, Rich promptly beats Karyn to death with an iron bar before several witnesses--leading to his arrest for first-degree murder. And when Rich is jailed, he alternates between fits of demonly ghastliness and cries from his own true self: ""The dee-monn!. . . Get him out of me! Before he makes me do something terrible again!"" Not many believe that Rich is truly possessed, however. The primary exception is his older brother Conor, an expriest and professional wrestler--who, after being attacked by a demon-deer (""Bambi was trying to kill him!"") and trying out a crucifix on Rich (poltergeisty havoc ensues), seeks out a top Church exorcist. Meanwhile, Rich's lawyers-with an assist from an ancient anti-Satan cult--are attempting to defend him on an unprecedented basis: not guilty because of demonic possession. Also meanwhile, the demon--now identified as Zarach', the ""son of the endless night""--is killing off all the eyewitnesses in the case (gruesome doings) and kidnapping Conor's daughter. (She is saved--thanks to some backwoodsy true-believers.) And finally Zarach' gets what he's wanted all along: a public trial to prove the existence of the Devil--culminating in a shrill courtroom battle between the anti-Satan forces and Zarach', who makes himself known in the usual ostentatious ways. (""There were ant forms, and fan-shaped serpents, and slinking noisome beasts of no known species."") Now and again Farris does attempt to upholster the crass outline here--with the likable, offbeat household of wrestler Conor, with tacky attempts at humor. (The exorcist, a black priest, introduces himself: ""Who were you expecting, Max von Sydow?"") But, unlike Stephen King's better efforts, this heavyhanded shrieker fails to disarm or seduce--so it winds up as just more of the noxious, lurid usual for regular readers of Satanic, porno-violent horror.

Pub Date: Feb. 25th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's