When people went to the cinema in 1973 to watch William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, there were reports of fainting, vomiting and mass hysteria.
One woman decided to sue filmmakers after she passed out midway through the screening and broke her jaw.
There was a sense that the film carried with it something powerful and unspeakably dangerous. Billy Graham, a popular televangelist at the time, said, “There is a power of evil… in the fabric of the film itself.”
And 44 years later, stories about what occurred on set of The Exorcist still circulate, as though perhaps there was something dark underpinning the entire project.
Here are the four most unsettling:
1. The death of nine people.
Over the course of filming, nine people associated with the production of The Exorcist died.
Two actors, Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros, died before the film was released. Interestingly, both characters also lost their lives in the film.
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2. The set of Regan MacNeil’s home (the possessed protagonist) burned down.
Director William Friedkin saw a pigeon fly into a circuit box and promptly catch fire. The entire set was destroyed, except for one room. Somehow, Regan’s bedroom was left completely unscathed.
Production was consequently halted for six weeks.
3. A ‘blessing’ was performed on set.
Following the fire and a number of other strange occurrences, Friedkin asked Reverend Thomas Birmingham to perform an exorcism on the set.