The Ninth Configuration (1980)

When you join the military, you are essentially signing away your life. You’re given rules on how to live, where to sleep, how to dress, and if you get killed or maimed along the way, then, honey there’s a clause for that in the small print.
You sign up to go to work, and you’re taught to use weapons, become killers, murderers ( killing with intent is murder however y’all want to dress it up); because you love your country, and the enemy is whoever you are told they are.
You don’t question your boss when you’re indentured into the military, you do as you’re told, and the devastation of combat is something that you just have to deal with.
Experiments on military personnel are an open secret; the human guinea pigs furthering the knowledge of science by being subjected to drugs, hypnosis, torture and intense suffering, are the seldom mentioned casualties of war.
In the thirties, two hundred African American men suffering from Syphilis were told they were healthy, so that the effects of the disease could be studied, and died painful deaths, never knowing that they could have been treated and cured.
In the forties, during separate experiments soldiers were exposed to mustard gas, fluoride and administered radiation intravenously, to better understand the effects of bio weapons in the conflict with Japan.
In the fifties they ‘investigated’ the use of LSD on both military and civilian subjects, with and without permission;  released biological weapons in cities like New York, Winnipeg, and Tampa, to determine how populations would react to such an attack and how quickly the chemicals could be dispersed.
Prisoners, soldiers , civilians and animals alike have been subjected to military research, treated like lab rats, and have died for the sake of patriotism and progress.
Mind control, behaviour modification, bio chemicals, creating drug addicts; it all sounds a bit far fetched doesn’t it? Great horror movie material, but a wee bit unbelievable yes?
I mean, what other job would mess with your head, your body, and your life, just because?
War is hell kid, but apparently, the devil is in the terms and conditions.
Based on the novel by the Exorcist’s William Blatty, who also directed and produced the film; The Ninth Configuration is the story of a remote asylum for soldiers who are in various stages of mental illness. Stacey Keach plays the intriguing Colonel Kane, who is sent to take charge and assist the men in their rehabilitation, while struggling with his own demons.
Mind bending, violent, and tragically comical in parts, the film is undoubtedly a stunning, work of cinema, yet a hard slog, for the viewer that isn’t prepared to immerse themselves in the intensity of the drama.
Saturated in Christian symbolism, with an ending that may leave some a little cold, due to it’s heavily implied ‘Christ is the only way’ stance, but if you can get beyond that, you can appreciate the film for what it is; which is an original, intense, horror/thriller that isn’t afraid to look ridiculous and laugh at itself.
Which I’m guessing was the intent with the whole Shakespeare for dogs scene …
Love it or loathe it, this is a movie that will provoke reaction, and give you a damn good bar fight, for really no reason at all.
Blatty considered this to be the sequel to the Exorcist (of which I have never been a fan), but I think he is selling the story a little short. For me its predecessor was one dimensional and hackneyed, whereas with the Ninth Configuration, he has dug a little deeper, and attempted to explore the human psyche and how it corresponds to the ideas of theology.
A lack of annoying little girls and pea soup is always to be applauded.

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This entry was posted in 80's horror, asylum, critique, Eighties Horror, fiction, film and media, God, mental illness, military, thriller, william blatty and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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