The Exorcist is one of the most iconic films of all time; it has influenced many horror films and is even highly beloved by people today. However, little do people know, that there were some pretty paranormal events that happened on set. If the fact that this movie is based on true events is not enough, the strange occurrences that happened on set add a new layer of dismay to this ever magnificent film.
The shooting of the movie was delayed by six weeks.
After the set had caught on fire, destroying most of what was supposed to be the MacNeil’s home. The Director, William Friedkin, blamed it on a feathered creature with talons; it seemed that a pigeon had discovered a way into one of the circuit boxes, which caused the fire to break out. However, miraculously, Regan’s room was unharmed by the fire. The fact that no harm was caused to the room of the possession remains to be quite a disturbing incident.
The cast and crew even happened to find the set mysteriously covered in snow.
Before the film had even begun, a carpenter reportedly lost some of his fingers while working on set pieces for the film.
Furthermore, two of the characters within the movie had sustained injuries during the time of filming. First, actress Ellen Burstyn, who plays Reagan’s mother in the film, was injured when the possessed Regan flings her across the room. In this scene her harness had malfunctioned, pulling her away too quickly and causing her to land on her coccyx. This resulted in a permanent spine injury for the actress. The film even uses the take that resulted in her injury, meaning that the blood-curdling scream she lets out is utterly genuine. Additionally, in the scene where Linda Blair (Regan) is thrown of bed, she injures her back due to the piece of rigging breaking. This caused her to injure her back.
Chances are high that any film that takes over a year to complete would be associated with a few bad incidences, but this one even has a few deaths!
Actors Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros died while the film was in post-production. What makes this even more eerie is that their characters had died in the film as well. Linda’s grandfather and Max Von Sydow’s brother also happened to die on the first day of shooting for the film. There had also been reports of other deaths happening to people who worked on set or to their love ones, such as the cameraman’s unexpected still born and a security guard on set.
Jason Miller, who played Father Damien Karras, had a near death experience when a motorcycle hit him head on.
Interestingly, Miller was approached by a priest in the street before this, who handed him a medallion and gave him a foreshadowing remark. He warned him against people who will do things to “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.” Perhaps Miller should have taken heed to the priest’s cautionary advice.
Lastly, in 1987, Mercedes McCambridge, who played the voice of the demon Pazuzu, was the victim of a shocking tragedy.
Her son had murdered his wife and children before committing suicide. This happened several years after the film’s release, but it is well worth noting as a spine-chilling event that seems to always shadow The Exorcist.