We have experienced many creepy movies over the years. Honestly, some of them have managed to make us shit our pants while others have managed to become no more than comedy movies. The 70s saw the creation of one of the most chiller movies of all times – the Exorcist. It was one of the most well-made horror movies that till date manage to send chills down our spine. However, what is more disturbing is the cinematic folklore that surrounded the movies. Some say it was a cursed movie and it goes stories go by the name – ‘The Exorcist Curse.’
What is so chilling about the movie? We will find out shortly. However, we need to mention that this post is not just about the curse but also about some weird facts about the movie that many of us are not aware of. So, let us learn 21 creepy Exorcist facts and if you haven’t watched the movie till now, you can find it pretty easily for it is a classic horror movie that is not going to die anytime soon.
1. Exorcist was supposedly based on some eerie real-life events. It is being said that there was a rumored exorcism that took place on school grounds of Georgetown University in 1949. According to legends, in 1949, a schoolboy aged 14 attempted to contact his dead aunt using a Ouija Board and ended up being possessed by demonic forces. In 1950, a person named William Peter Blatty graduated from the Georgetown University and wrote a novel based on that 1949 exorcism. This novel became the source of the movie.
2. The original trailer of the movie was banned by several theaters. The teaser consisted of several flashing monochrome images that many viewers actually found too terrifying.
3. The central character of the movie – the little girl Regan who was possessed by demons – was shown speaking in a demonic voice. That voice was actually real and it was provided by Mercedes McCambridge. Mercedes didn’t really have that kind of weird voice but she was so dedicated that she actually started chain-smoking that made her throw up a mixture of mushed apples and raw eggs and voila! She managed to get that terrible voice.
4. Though Mercedes provided the demon voice, Warner Bros. never gave her any screen credit. As a result, she had to sue them. Eventually during Oscar season when Linda Blair (the girl who played the role of Regan) received nomination, credit for demonic voice was eventually given to Mercedes McCambridge.
5. After the movie was released, Linda Blair actually started receiving assassination threats because people started believing that she was indeed a Satan. Warner Bros. provided personal bodyguards to her for 6 months straight.
6. Throughout UK, the screening of Exorcist was banned by town councils. As a result of this, travel companies came up with the idea of “Exorcist Bus Trips”. They used to charge citizens for taking them to different movie theaters hoping that they can find a theater that was playing the movie. The movie was officially released in the UK in 1999.
7. The Exorcist turned out to be the first ever horror movie that was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture. The movie received 10 Oscar nominations and went on to win Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Sound.
8. The Exorcist was the highest-grossing movie until ‘Jaws’ was released. Despite that Exorcist till date remains the only R-rated movie with highest grossing if inflation adjustments are taken account of.
9. Did you know that some of the theaters that were screening the movie went to the extent of providing “Exorcist Barf Bags”?
10. A part of the movie was filmed at Fordham University. Father William O’Malley who is actually a teacher and priest in that university played the role of Joseph Dyer. Joseph Dyer was a character shown as a friend of Father Karras (played by Jason Miller) who was called upon for help by Regan’s mother (played by Ellen Burstyn).
Now let us get into some of the creepy facts that you have been waiting for.
11. On the first day when the film was being shot, Max von Sydow who played the role of Father Merrin in the movie was so much disgusted by the profane language used for Regan (Linda Blair’s character in the movie) that he forgot his script!
12. Both Linda Blair (played the character of Regan) and Ellen Burstyn (played the character of Regan’s mother) suffered serious back injuries while shooting the stunts where their respective characters were thrown all around the room. Burstyn ended up with a very serious and permanent injury to her spinal cord. The ‘screaming’ in her character was actually a scream let out by her because of her injury. It was a genuine painful shriek!
13. In a weird coincidence, the film’s post-production was done at New York City’s 666 Fifth Avenue. Do you know what 666 stands for? It is the symbol of devil as mentioned in Bible.
14. The scene in which the devil leaves the body of Regan, some weird sounds were made. Those sounds actually came from soundes of squealing pigs that were being herded to the slaughter room. The sound was recorded and played while shooting that particular scene.
15. Director William Friedkin went to extremes to get the right environment and expressions for the film. For instance, Father O’Malley who played the role of Joseph Dyer was actually slapped on face by Friedkin to get the perfect emotional expression right before shooting a scene. He also fired a shot from his gun right behind Jason Miller (who played the role of Father Karras to get that perfect ‘shocked response’ that was needed.
16. Regan’s bedroom (where Regan was held after being possessed by the demon) was put inside a freeze and temperature was dropped below freezing point. Because of the low temperature, snow started forming all around Regan (Linda Blair) who had to shoot the scene wearing just a night gown!
17. Billy Graham, an evangelist, went to the extent of claiming that a demon was actually present inside the film’s celluloid reels!
18. A mysterious and rogue studio fire managed to devour the McNeil home set but left Regan’s room completely untouched and unharmed.
19. The room that was set up for Father Karras (played by Jason Miller) was filmed at Thomas King’s residence. Thomas King was a Friar. William Peter Blatty from who novel the film was adapted was so concerned about the series of unexplained events that took place at New York set that he finally asked Thomas King to bless the film set at Washington D.C.
20. The sound that was made when Regan’s head turned was actually the sound of leather wallet with some old credit cards being twisted in front of a microphone.
21. There is an urban legend which says that anyone who was involved with the production of Exorcist was cursed for life. This is the actual Exorcist Curse that many people often speak of. There were two characters in the movie – mother of Father Karras (played by Vasiliki Maliaros) and Bruke the director (played by Jack MacGowran) who die during the film’s course. Those two people actually died even before the film was released.
Did you know that Warner Bros. was sued by a filmgoer during the film’s screening in 1974? The person actually claimed that he was so frightened by the film’s subliminal imagery that he lost consciousness, slipped out of his seat and broke his jaw by falling on the seat in front of him. Eventually Warner Bros. settled with the person outside the court for a sum of money that till date remains undisclosed.