The Devil was one of the biggest success stories of the 1970’s, along with John Travolta, The Eagles, microwave ovens, and the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities. For this you can thank (or blame, if such is your inclination) William Peter Blatty and his runaway best seller The Exorcist, which got the decade off to a hell of a start when it was published in 1971.
Everyone knew that The Exorcist would make it to the silver screen sooner rather than later, and so it was; in 1973 blockbuster novel was followed by blockbuster movie, and the film directed by The French Connection’s William Friedkin became the year’s biggest hit, grossing one hundred and ninety-three million dollars (and that’s in 1970’s money).
However, three months before the premier of The Exorcist another film appeared that is, to my mind, the definitive celluloid treatment of the Fallen Angel and his diabolical dealings with Middle America. On September 19th, 1973, the ABC Movie of Week granted us a true glimpse of the abyss; during the seventy-eight-minute running time of Satan’s School for Girls, viewers truly knew what it was like to be one of the damned.