The Exorcist may be the most iconic horror movie of all time. It brought absolute terror to audiences everywhere in the 70s and would end up being one of the highest-grossing films. Quite possibly the scariest part of The Exorcist is the true story that lies behind it. As if the thought of the horror within this movie being real isn’t enough, the events that took place during filming would add a whole other spooky layer to it. Many people believe that the film itself is cursed because of these strange occurrences.
A Total of Nine Cast and Crew Deaths Before the Release
There were not one, not two, but nine deaths of cast and crew members before The Exorcist were released. Two actors that were scripted to die in the movie would die during the post-production stage of filming. One of the actors, Vasiliki Maliaros, was said to die of natural causes, though the timing is undoubtedly eerie. The other actor, Jack MacGowran, died from complications from the influenza virus. Seven other members within the cast and crew would die prior to the release. Not only that but many of the cast and crew, including Linda Blair, who played the possessed character Regan, lost family members during this time. The son of Jason Miller nearly died after a motorcycle accident during the time of filming. On top of everything, Paul Bateson, who played a nurse, killed a reporter before the release of the movie. Although he confessed, he couldn’t give the police a motive for what caused him to do it.
An Unexplainable Fire
William Friedkin, one of the directors, received a phone call alerting him to a fire that had happened on set. A pigeon flew directly into a circuit box in the set of the MacNeil’s house to start an almost completely destructive fire. While a fire on the set of an exorcism movie would be eerie enough, the only room not to catch on fire adds to the creepiness. The only place the fire seemed to avoid would be Regan’s room, the room of the possessed little girl. The bedroom is where most of the action took place. Regan’s room is where the exorcisms, head-spinning, and other demonic horror occurred. In fact, the fire actually started during one of the exorcism scenes, according to Friedkin. Because of this incident, there would be a six-week delay in production. Understandably spooked after this, a priest would be brought in to pray over the set.
Ellen Burstyn Suffers From a Spinal Injury But Isn’t the Only One Injured
While shooting one of the scenes in the film, Ellen Burstyn got severely injured due to random malfunctioning of her harness. In The Exorcist, Burstyn played the mother of the possessed little girl, Regan. In one scene, Regan (Linda Blair) pushes Burstyn to the floor and a harness would pull her back. The harness malfunctioned and pulled her too quickly, causing Burstyn to land on her tailbone. The intense impact on her coccyx would result in a permanent spinal injury. Her scream during that scene is real, caused by the pain. While working on the set, a carpenter lost his finger and a lighting tech lost a toe in separate accidents. Additionally, after the release of The Exorcist, a member of the audience passed out in the theatre and broke his jaw.
An Eerie Warning For the Film’s Priest
Jason Miller played Father Karras in The Exorcist and would be one of the priests to aid Regan. During the time of the filming, Miller got an eerie warning from a priest who had no knowledge of his part in the film. While handing him a medallion, he said, “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.” We have to wonder what caused the priest to deliver this message to a stranger on the street.
Linda Blair Began to Have Mental Breakdowns During Filming
Linda Blair was only 14 years old when she would star in her first major movie role. The working conditions on set would be challenging for just about anyone, but especially a young teenager. Temperatures on set would drop below zero degrees. While everyone else wore protective clothing, Blair would be wearing a thin nightgown. During many of the scenes, Blair would be thrust violently with the harness. It isn’t surprising that Linda Blair was rumored to have mental breakdowns during filming with the strange things that happened on set paired with the working conditions.