Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest 2016 review – Hostage to the Devil

My notes on the documentary.

The current Wikipedia entry for Malachi Martin barely mentions his alleged activities as an exorcist, but does go into several political-religious controversies beyond the purview of this documentary – which combines a thumbnail biography of Martin, who was whatever else can be said a busy scholar and lived an interestingly complex life, with perhaps more speculative business about his involvement in the attempted exorcism of a child in the 1990s and some highly contentious hints that his death at the age of 78 (he had a cerebral haemorrhage and fell off a library ladder) might be down to demonic influence.


Interviewed as Martin’s associates are ex-cop Ralph Sarchie, author of the book that became the movie Deliver Us From Evil, and Matt Baglio, author of the book that became the movie The Rite, while Martin is seen in footage of a paranormal conclave sat next to Lorraine Warren, of Conjuring/Amity fame – which does rather lump him in with that peculiar breed of paranormal huckster who seems always to have an eye on the book/movie deal, who tend to pop up around the edges of the various alleged hauntings/possessions/demon incursions that have resurfaced recently in a run of slightly drab, hokey based-on-fact horror films.


The only real naysaying voice is biographer Robert Blair Kaiser, who has a personal animosity against his former friend because he believes Martin had an affair with his wife (a statement which just lies there – a bit of research blurs the issue).  Glimpsed is the image of a celebrity priest – though it’s a moot point as to whether he was actually a priest after he quit Rome and moved to New York to become an author of pop-religious-historical-occult-political books (including some novels).  There are glimpses of enmity between Martin, whose book Hostage to the Devil rode the exorcism boom of the 1970s, and William Peter Blatty, who made a fuss about the non-fiction basis of The Exorcist at the time.  Robert Marro, a producer on this project, is our main guide through the supposed exorcism, revisiting the site of the rite and talking (yarning?) up what sounds like pretty much every Exorcist knock-off ever made.  Written by Rachel Lysaght and director Marty Stalker.



  1. Pingback: FrightFest 2016 – review round-up | The Kim Newman Web Site - August 17, 2017

  2. Pingback: Review: Hostage to the Devil – Tremble Not! - August 20, 2018

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