The Ninth Configuration (aka Twinkle, Twinkle, “Killer” Kane)

Dir: William Peter Blatty, 1980


After the sad passing of William Peter Blatty, I felt it right to look at one of his best-known works.

I’ve already reviewed The Exorcist and Legion, so was left with The Ninth Configuration, Blatty’s own adaption of his novel of the same name. The novel was a rewritten version of an earlier book he wrote, titled Twinkle, Twinkle “Killer” Kane.

Hudson Kane (Stacy Leach) is a psychiatrist sent to a disused castle that is employed as a psychiatric institution for the United States army.

It’s a shame that this is the only work of his I’m able to review as I don’t find it all that great or even good.

Farcical yet dramatic, The Ninth Configuration has tinges of horror and psychological thriller woven into its fibre. From this perspective, how can you, possibly, categorise a work that crosses and blends the genres?

The film is, certainly, highly intelligent but that doesn’t, necessarily, make it enjoyable. And that is where I take issue with it.

You can, plainly, see that the author turned filmmaker put his life and soul into making the film. He even makes a cameo near the start of the movie. Nothing feels rushed and he takes his time with every scene.

But, then, it becomes boring. It’s a slow, meandering film with a story that just doesn’t grip.

Although it’s intended as a black comedy, the humour within the behaviour of the patients doesn’t sit well and is lacking any actual laughs. We are supposed to laugh at their idiosyncrasies but don’t because it’s not funny.

A lot Blatty’s film, looks good on paper but, for the cinema, falls flat. Jason Miller attempting to teach a hoard of dogs to play Shakespeare, is one such example.

You will either allow the movie to seduce you with little effort or you’ll reject it and you don’t get a say in the decision.

Cold, odd and pretentious.



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