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The Exorcist

A 1973 American horror film

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Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 1

  • Sep 30, 2010

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought I would do some research and investigations about my favorite movie of all time:  The Exorcist.  While many thought the movie was not scary at all, others were terrified (especially me); partially based on the fact that the movie, which started out as a book, was based on a true story, and also because at the time of it's release, NO movie had ever been made like this one -- it was truly the first of it's kind.  Today we see many demon and devil movies; personally I'm so used to them they don't scare me at all - I love them, but none can match the effect The Exorcist had on me!!   The characters' roles were played to perfection and even the music theme is creepy to me: Tubular Bells, which I have as a ring tone on my cell - this has caused lots of head-turning while my cell goes off in the mall!

What I found even more interesting were the facts behind the story and the trivial notes of some of the scenes.  When we watch a movie sometimes we forget the trouble and havoc that can happen during the shooting of such a complex movie.  There is also a Part 2 to this review with even more trivia and facts that I think you will find enjoyable.

William Peter Blatty based his novel on a supposedly genuine exorcism from 1949, which was partially performed in both Cottage City, Maryland, and Bel-Nor, Missouri. Several area newspapers reported on a speech a minister gave to an amateur parapsychology society, in which he claimed to have exorcised a demon from a 13-year-old boy named Robbie, and that the ordeal lasted a little more than six weeks.

To view more of the whole story (and it is extremely interesting) about the the possessed boy and how Blatty later wrote the original novel based on this horrible story, click HERE - following is part of the story about "Roland".

How It All Started

The movie which starred Linda Blair as a young girl possessed by an evil spirit was based on the real life story of a thirteen-year-old Lutheran boy from Georgetown, USA.

The boy – who the newspapers of the time named as Roland - manifested his ‘possession’ by levitating, overturning furniture, speaking in a deep, gravelly voice – often Latin - using obscenities, moving his head in a bizarre, snake-like fashion, spitting with amazing accuracy into the eyes of priests and producing welts on his body that spelt out words.

His body also became horribly bloated, his room dropped to icy temperatures, and he slashed the arms of a priest called into help him.

Roland is believed to have become possessed after his aunt taught him how to use the Ouija board.

It was January of 1949 when the bizarre and terrifying paranormal events began in the boy’s home. Eerie scratching noises bombarded the usually quite residence. Soon after the noises started, Roland’s aunt mysteriously died. But Roland continued using the Ouija Board, only now it was to contact his aunt.

Soon, the noises in the house suddenly shifted into Roland’s bedroom.

The boy’s bed would shake violently, toys and other objects would fly across the room and the scratching sounds escalated.

Frantic with worry, Roland’s mother decided to contact a priest. When the minister visited Roland’s room, the boy started speaking in Latin – a language he had never learnt. He told the priest he was the devil.

The minister arranged for Roland to spend a night with him in his own home so he could witness any strange behavior without interference from the family.

While sitting in the dark, the priest watched and listened as the boy slept. Then suddenly, he heard scratching on the walls. He woke the boy and placed him in a heavy armchair, the chair tipped over spilling the boy to the floor, while several blankets flew around the room.

Roland first underwent exorcism at Georgetown University Hospital. He was strapped to a bed as Father E. Albert Hughes conducted the ceremony. The boy allegedly broke free of his restraints and slashed Hughes’s arm with a bedspring. The priest required 100 stiches to close the wound.

The exorcism was unsuccessful. Although Dr. J. B. Rhine, director of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University, referred to the haunting as a very impressive manifestation.

On August 20, 1949, The Washington Post stated that it took over thirty exorcism rituals by three separate religious denominations to cast the devil from the boy’s body.

Roland was finally freed of demonic possession by Father William Bowdern at Alexian Brothers Hospital in St. Louis.

The "Spider-Walk Scene"

Contortionist Linda R. Hager was hired to perform the infamous "spider-walk scene" that was filmed on April 11, 1973. Friedkin deleted the scene just prior to the original December 26, 1973 release date because he felt it was ineffective technically. However, with advanced developments in digital media technology, Friedkin worked with CGI artists to make the scene look more convincing for the 2000 theatrically re-released version of The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen. Since the original release, myths and rumors still exist that a variety of spider-walk scenes were filmed despite Friedkin's insistence that no alternate version was ever shot.

Creepy Facts About The Movie

♦ Nine people died during the making of "The Exorcist".

♦ The set for "The Exorcist" burnt down during production delaying the film for 6 weeks.

♦ It caused widespread hysteria when released. Reports of fainting, people being institutionalized, and at least one miscarriage.

♦ It was banned on video in Finland.

♦ Linda Blair had a mental breakdown during the filming

♦ Linda Blair’s grandfather died

♦ Jack McGowen died of a heart-attack after completing his role in the film

♦ Max Von Sydow’s - brother died.

♦ A night-watchman died

♦ A special effects expert died

♦ And a cameraman’s newborn baby perished

Go to Part 2 for even more interesting facts about this fantastic movie!!

Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 1 Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 1 Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 1

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October 21, 2010
Love the way you did this
November 05, 2010
Thank you -- this was one enjoyable review to write!
September 30, 2010
nicely done, Brenda. You know the original story was adapted into a TV movie called "POSSESSION"? It was decent and it even showed the room where the final rites of the exorcism had taken place and has remained locked up to this day.
November 05, 2010
I didn't know that!! Interesting stuff and I'll have to check that out!!
September 30, 2010
A suitably creepy review for, just as you said, one of the finest fright films of all time. Good job!
September 30, 2010
Thank you -- I enjoyed doing this review and I hope you read Part 2!!
More The Exorcist reviews
review by . October 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     When the end credits suite from "The Exorcist" begin to play, all questions that we might have had regarding the movie have been answered; and we finally understand its power. Even after the credits run their course, some might sit down and think for a while about what they have witnessed; and they will either go back mentally or literally to certain scenes to determine which ones have the most profound effect on them. A favorite of many and often cited as …
review by . September 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Trivia, facts and blunders from The Exorcist - Part 2
   Ellen Burstyn, who played the role of Chris MacNeil, Regan’s mother, was injured on the set during filming. In the scene where she is checking on her daughter and later thrown away from the bed, she received a permanent injury to her spine: the harness that was used to shoot the scene pulled her away quickly and when she landed, Burstyn landed on her coccyx.  The scream seen immediately following the moment when Regan’s mother is tossed away from the bed is a very real …
Quick Tip by . June 07, 2010
My absolute favorite horror flick of all time. The only movie to truly scare the crap out of me!!
review by . November 11, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
It's difficult to look back on a film "classic" and try to review it through today's eyes...35 years later. It's always tempting to say, "Those effects were great...for 1973" or "imagine how that affected an audience...three decades ago." You almost feel like you have to make excuses for the film.    But I am happy to report that in a very recent, pre-Halloween viewing, THE EXORCIST has withstood the test of time nearly unscathed. Yes, some of the effects (there are actually …
Quick Tip by . February 07, 2010
review by . May 13, 2009
The Exorcist (1973) was one of the greatest horror films ever made. It scared the nation and the people wanted more! The movie made a lot of money and it launched William Friedkin's career beyond the stratosphere (he was already a big name thanks to the French Connection). William Peter Blatty's novel was already a big seller when it was optioned for a silver screen adaptation. The conflicts between the two over how it would be presented as a film could make a movie by it's own right. There was …
review by . November 03, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
After thirty-four years, 'The Exorcist' remains nearly as shocking and horrifying as it was upon its release in 1973. Back then, it was a movie event, and news pieces showed that 'The Exorcist' did to post-modern times what 'Dracula' did back during its debut. Near hysteria came to some, but the masses were at least electrified by what is unabashedly called "the scariest movie of all time".     The key element of this hallmark is that 'The Exorcist' is so convincingly real. Reinventing …
review by . August 27, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
Since I was a kid, I have heard people all over say time and time again that THE EXORCIST is "one of the scariest movies of all time." Well, I've never been a huge fan of horror, but in order to improve my cinematic horizons, I have been watching a lot of schlock and horror lately and finally viewed THE EXORCIST. My impression: what in the world is the big deal? Outside of superb acting and some neat special effects, THE EXORCIST isn't that great. The writing is terrible and contains loads of dialogue …
review by . August 11, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
In terms of a MOVIE this is clearly one of the best ever made. Only the Godfather I & II compares to it, in terms of performances, (not a single bad one) Special effects and plot it is incredible. This movie doesn't rush itself. It slowly builds up until you just can't take it anymore. This is high art. All the people involved in this movie should be rightly proud. It will outlast anything else in the Genre. I know Linda Blair's career has paid a price for this but very few great actors have ever …
About the reviewer
Brenda ()
Ranked #56
I love to read mysteries and thrillers; I am addicted to scary psychological thrillers and horror movies; "The Exorcist" and "Silence of the Lambs" being 2 of my favorites. I love … more
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About this movie


The Exorcist is a horror novel by William Peter Blatty, published by Harper & Row in 1971. It is based on a 1949 exorcism of Robbie Mannheim that Blatty heard about while he was a student in the class of 1950 at Georgetown University, a Jesuit and Catholic school. On October 31, 2010, Cemetery Dance will publish a special omnibus edition of The Exorcist and its sequel Legion, signed by Blatty.


An elderly Jesuit priest named Father Lankester Merrin is leading an archaeological dig in northern Iraq and studying ancient relics. Following the discovery of a small statue of the demon Pazuzu (an actual ancient Sumerian demigod) and a modern-day St. Joseph medal curiously juxtaposed together at the site, a series of omens alerts him to a pending confrontation with a powerful evil, which unknown to the reader at this point, he has battled before in an exorcism in Africa. Meanwhile, in Georgetown, a young girl named Regan MacNeil living with her famous actress mother, Chris, becomes inexplicably ill. After a gradual series of poltergeist-like disturbances, she undergoes disturbing psychological and physical changes, appearing to become "possessed" by a demonic spirit.

After several unsuccessful psychiatric and medical treatments, Regan's mother turns to a local Jesuit priest. ...

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