The Exorcist is a 1973 supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin. The film stars Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, Linda Blair and Jason Miller. The Exorcist was based on a 1971 novel of the same name that was written by the American writer William Peter Blatty. The novel was inspired by the true story of the exorcism of a young boy named Roland Doe.
The Exorcist is considered to be one of the scariest movies ever made. Many viewers have said that they had nightmares after watching the film while others fainted during the screening of the film in movie theaters.
The film follows a young girl who has been possessed by a demon. The girl’s mother asks two priests to exorcise the terrifying demon from her daughter’s body. Eventually, the demon is successfully exorcised but only after a long battle between it and the priests.
It is said that the film ran into difficulties almost immediately. At the start, it was turned down by several famous directors, such as Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Penn. Later, the film was said to be cursed as a number of people involved in it died. Nonetheless, the film has been a commercial success and has won a couple of awards.
15 The Film Is Based On Real Life
Did you know that the insanely creepy film The Exorcist is actually based on a real life event? In 1949, a young boy in Maryland was said to have been possessed by the devil after his aunt taught him how to play with a Ouija board.
Shortly after, the aunt died and the family began to experience strange occurrences. Furniture was being moved around the house by some invisible force, strange sounds echoed through the house and the boy kept waking up with mysterious bruises. At first it was believed that the dead aunt was haunting the house but soon it became obvious that it was the boy who was the cause of all the mayhem. It became clear that the boy was possessed and when a priest came to exorcise him the boy seriously injured him.
When the same priest interviewed him in Latin, it became obvious that the boy was possessed not by one but by several demons. A number of other priests intervened and finally, it seemed like Saint Michael saved the boy. The boy went to mass and returned to normal.
14 The Movie Set Was Found Covered In Snow And A Carpenter Lost His Fingers
The set of The Exorcist was clearly haunted, or so some of the crew members have said. Not only was most of the movie set destroyed by a mysterious fire, according to some crew members one morning the movie set was found mysteriously covered in snow.
But that’s not all. Unfortunate accidents seem to have plagued many of those involved with The Exorcist. According to one legend that has been circulating around for some time, a carpenter working on the set of The Exorcist ended up accidentally cutting off some of his fingers while he was working on the set pieces. This gets extra creepy when you consider the biblical significance of a carpenter.
13 The Film Set Went On Fire And Destroyed Everything Except Regan's Room
During the filming of The Exorcist, the set of the MacNeil’s family home mysteriously went on fire. No one knows why the fire broke out for sure, but some people, including the director of the film, William Friedkin, believe that an unlucky pigeon flew into one of the circuit boxes on set and thus started the fire.
However, even though the fire completely destroyed the set of the MacNeil family home, it did not touch the possessed girl’s – Regan’s – room. The room stayed completely intact. It was practically the only part of the set that was not destroyed by the fire.
12 As A Result Of The Fire Shooting Was Delayed By Six Weeks
As a result of the mysterious fire that destroyed much of the film set (apart from the possessed girl’s room), the shooting of the film had to be delayed for six weeks. Obviously, this caused quite a headache for the director of The Exorcist and inconvenienced a lot of other people too.
Naturally, it is believed that the fire that caused the delay happened accidentally. However, some people believe that the fire was a sure sign conveyed by some mysterious form to stop the shooting of the film completely. Nonetheless, the shooting obviously did not stop and once the set was restored all went back to normal.
11 Objects Moved Mysteriously On The Set And A Priest Was Called In To Perform An Exorcism
After the film was shot a number of crew members reported seeing weird thing happen on set during the shooting. According to them, various objects moved on their own as if pushed by a mysterious force. One such object was a telephone that was used for communicating on set. It supposedly mysteriously rose and fell from the receiver a number of times.
Director William Friedkin could eventually no longer stand the strained atmosphere on set and called in Reverend Thomas Bermingham to come to the movie set and carry out an exorcism. It is said that Reverend Bermingham initially refused, saying that an exorcism would only cause more tension. However, the following day the fire that destroyed part of the movie set occurred and Reverend Bermingham finally agreed to come over and perform an exorcism.
10 During Filming The Actress Ellen Burstyn Injured Her Back Severely And Her Scream Is Captured On Film
The Exorcist was also responsible for a few injuries. For example, the actress Ellen Burstyn who played Chris MacNeil, the possessed girl’s mother, was actually injured, and quite seriously. Apparently, Burstyn only agreed to play the part of Regan’s mother if the line “I believe in the devil” would be taken out from the script. The line was taken out but this did not protect Burstyn from the film’s curse.
During the filming of the terrifying scene where MacNeil was thrown out of bed by Regan the harness was pulled too severely and Burstyn ended up permanently injuring her back. In fact, Burstyn screamed in pain and since the scream was so horrifying and real it was actually used in the film.
9 During The Film Premiere In Rome Lightning Struck A Cross
During The Exorcist premiere in Rome the weather was atrocious. Those who wanted to see the film in the cinema had to make their way inside by battling torrential downpour. There was also thunder and lightning and it was supposedly very hard to get into the move theater. Many of those present at the Roman premiere later claimed that they heard horrible, demonic cries that were coming from outside the movie theater once the film started playing.
However, if you think that’s creepy, also know this: during the same premiere, lightning struck a 400-year-old cross that was placed on a nearby 16th century Roman church.
8 Film Viewers At Movie Theaters Experienced Weird Occurrences
Many people believed that the film was cursed and that playing it through a projector would bring nothing but bad luck and maybe even demons. It is said that a Televangelist named Billy Graham even said that “there is a power of evil in the film, in the fabric of the film itself.”
Apparently, those who saw the film in movie theaters were so frightened that movie theaters started giving out barf bags and paramedics were often nearby in case of emergencies. Some viewers were supposedly taken out from movie theaters on stretchers. One woman was so scared that during the screening she fainted and broke her jaw. She then sued the filmmakers claiming that it was the subliminal messages within the film that caused the accident.
7 Two Actors Died While The Film Was In Post-Production
Believe it or not but two actors who played in The Exorcist actually died while the film was in post-production. One of the actors was Jack MacGowran (see right in the photo above). The other was the actress Vasiliki Malioros (see left in the photo above).
The actor Jack MacGowran played Burke Dennings who was Chris MacNeil’s friend and associate. He died soon after the film was completed. The cause of death? Heart attack because of a severe case of the flu.
The Greek actress Vasiliki Malioros played the priest’s and psychiatrist’s Father Damien Karras’ mother. She had never acted before The Exorcist. Shortly after the film was in post-production she died of “natural causes”.
6 Overall The Film Resulted In Nine Deaths
The film The Exorcist was responsible for a number of other deaths. In fact, the actress Ellen Burstyn, who played the possessed girl’s mother, said that in total nine people died while the film was in the making. Two of these people were actors – the actor Jack MacGowran and the actress Vasiliki Malioros.
In addition, seven other people died. Some of those who died include: the watchman who looked after the set, the set refrigeration technician, the brother of actor Max Von Sydrow (he played Father Merrin), the grandfather of Linda Blair (she played the possessed girl Regan) and the cameraman’s baby who was born a stillborn.
5 During Filming The Actor Miller Was Approached By A Priest On The Street And Then Almost Died
During the shooting of the film, actor Jason Miller, who played Father Damien Karras, was walking on the street when he was approached by a priest. The priest gave Miller a medallion and told him to beware of people who will engage in things to “reveal the devil for the trickster that he is, he will seek retribution against you or he will even try to stop what you are trying to do to unmask him.”
Shortly after this incident, Miller was almost killed when a motorcycle collided into him. It’s creepy to think that the mysterious priest’s words might have foreshadowed this incident.
4 During Filming The Actress Who Played The Possessed Girl Injured Her Back
The actress Linda Blair who played the possessed girl Regan MacNeil was also injured quite severely during the shooting of the film. During the filming of one of the possession scenes, Blair was pretending to be thrown out of her bed when a piece of rigging holding her broke. As a result, Blair ended up injuring her back rather severely.
Plus, after the film was shot and released, the actress ended up receiving a number of threatening letters, including ones that were death threats. As a consequence, the studio had to hire bodyguards who escorted Blair everywhere she went for the next six months.
3 Mercedes McCambridge Was The Demonic Voice Of Pazuzu And Her Life Turned Out To Be A Nightmare
The actress Mercedes McCambridge “played” the possessed girl’s demonic voice. No one bothered to include her name in the film’s credits however and the actress eventually sued the studio. McCambridge’s name eventually appeared in the film’s credits.
However, maybe it would have been better if it hadn’t. Coincidence or not, but in 1987 her son put a scary Halloween mask on his face and killed his children, his wife and eventually, himself. Apparently, her son was accused of fraudulent behavior at his investment company and was fired on Friday the 13th, a few days before he killed his family. McCambridge went into hiding but went back to living a normal life after a note from her son was found.
2 An Extra In The Film Turned Out To Be A Real-Life Killer
A film extra known as Paul Bateson played in The Exorcist. In real life Bateson was an X-Ray technician at NYU Medical Centre. This paralleled the film as one scene took place at NYU Medical Centre and Bateson's character was also an X-Ray technician.
In 1979, six years after The Exorcist was released, Bateson was found guilty for killing the film critic Addison Verril. Bateson had apparently stabbed Verril in the heart. Bateson was also suspected of killing six other men. It is believed that he disposed of their bodies by putting them in plastic bags and throwing them into the Hudson River. These bags, with the bodies in them, eventually washed up on the shore of the Hudson River. Bateson admitted to a few killings. He even killed one man by crushing his skull with a metal skillet.
1 The Post-Production Of The Film Took Place At 666 Fifth Avenue, New York
It is said that The Exorcist’s post-production was carried out in a studio on 666 Fifth Avenue in New York. Obviously, everyone knows that the number 666 is, according to the Bible, the mark of the Beast. What is the “beast” you might wonder? Well, according to the sacred text it’s a wild beast that has seven heads and ten horns and supposedly climbs out of the sea.
Thus, this number of “the beast” further convinced some people that the film is definitely possessed by demonic forces. Surprisingly, nothing horrific happened while the film was in post-production at 666 Fifth Avenue.