The Exorcist (1973) is still known today as one of the scariest films of all time. The film affected audiences so strongly that many theaters actually hired paramedics to treat people who fainted or went into hysterics. Others came equipped with “Exorcist barf bags.” Aside from the film itself being terrifying, many mysterious circumstances surround the making of this film.
The film was based on a novel by William Peter Blatty. His novel was based on actual events involving the reported possession of a young boy.
During the filming/editing and shortly after it’s release, a total of 9 deaths & 12 injuries, and 2 fires occurred.
Ellen Burstyn, who played the role of Regan’s mother, suffered a permanent spinal injury during filming. In the scene where she is thrown away from Regan’s bed, the harness being used jerked her away quickly and when she landed on her coccyx. The scream we hear following her fall was a real scream produced by the agonizing pain she experienced.
Actor Jack MacGowran died of a heart attack shortly after his character died in the film.
The set of the MacNeil house mysteriously caught fire one weekend when nobody was around. The only room spared was Regan’s bedroom. The cause of the fire still remains unknown.
Following the fire, director William Friedkin asked Reverend Thomas Bermingham to exorcise the set. He refused but instead visited the set to perform a blessing and reassure the cast and crew.
Mercedes McCambridge was the woman who did the voice acting for Regan’s demon voice. In November of 1987, her son murdered his wife and two children and then killed himself. As part of his suicide note, he included a long and bitter letter to his mother.
When the film was first shown in Rome, Italy the audience heard a sudden loud crash while they were watching. An eight foot long and nearly 400 year old cross on one of the churches nearby had been struck by lighting. It fell to the ground and landed in the middle of the the piazza.
Christian evangelist Billy Graham claimed an actual demon was living in the celluloid reels of this movie.
The film’s post production editing was done on 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Side Note: Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was obsessed with The Exorcist III. He admired the Gemini Killer in the film, who kept various body parts of his victims. Dahmer did the same thing.