One of the best-known films within the horror genre is, without a doubt, the one released in 1973 and directed by William Friedkin . For fans, in addition to the plot and the performance of each character, one of the things that most interests them is knowing if something happened behind the scenes. Something similar happened with “Poltergeist”, a tape that we previously told its story, which was full of surprise deaths that managed to be linked to the feature film, since there was talk of a kind of curse during the recording set. But to know a little more about what happened with “The Exorcist“, we invite you to continue reading the note.
William Peter Blatty was the brilliant mind of this literary work, which was released in 1971. Its plot centers on an exorcism that happened in 1949, which the writer himself heard about a year later, during one of his classes at the University of Georgetown. This religious practice was done in Mount Rainier, Maryland and in Bel-Nor, Missouri. According to local newspapers, they stated that a priest performed an exorcism on a thirteen-year-old girl named Regan Mannheim, the process of which took more than six weeks.
This book became one of the best books and a best seller and sold thirteen million copies. But his success didn’t end there… Warner Bros. hired him to make a movie. He became the screenwriter for that production, and Friedkin joined as director. A similar story, with so much reading public, had assured fame. Fans were going to go see her on the big screen. But, they did not realize one thing: what would happen if they delved into paranormal subjects.Filming began on August 14, 1972 , and there they began to realize that strange things were happening. Noises and shadows were the two things that the technicians claimed to see. In addition, days before filming, the set of the possessed girl’s house caught fire; As a result, three workers died. The fire ate part of the scenery, except for one thing… the room where the exorcism was performed. The skills determined that a pigeon had entered the set, frightened, and that it had caused a short circuit. Both the filmmaker and the writer tried to calm the waters with a few words to their team, but rumors began to surface.
Because of what happened, they had to start about six weeks later. After starting with the recordings, on the second day, the brother of Max Von Sydow (interpreter of father Lankester) died, so the actor requested permission to be absent. Just days later, another death occurred: this time, that of Linda Blair’s (the protagonist) grandfather. It was not long before fate knocked on the door of some of those who were in the cast, and that is how Jack MacGowran and Vasiliki Maliaros perished before the film was released (one thing to keep in mind is that they died on the tape also).
Did you think that was it? Unfortunately, no. One of the technicians working on the production was killed, while the night watchman guarding the studio was found dead. Fortunately for Jason Miller , he was about to “see the white light”, but he recovered, having been in a critical condition after crashing his motorcycle . In addition, other rather strange cases happened a few years later: in 1979, Paul Bateson (he appeared in the film with a small role) was convicted of murdering a film critic and was suspected of six more crimes; in 1987, the son of Mercedes McCambridge(who lent his voice to the demon possessing the protagonist) killed his wife and children, and committed suicide .Undoubtedly, a series of strange events. Although the thing seemed to end there, the reality is that it did not. During the filming set, the interpreter of Chris MacNeil (mother of the demon-possessed girl), had to ask them to please remove the lines that said “I believe in the Devil” and threatened to stop filming, because she believed that they would suffer the impact. Fortunately for her, they paid attention to her and omitted those words, so she recorded again. In the script there was a moment that said that her daughter had to crash her against a wall and that, for safety reasons, she had to use a harness to protect herself from her. The problem was that, at the time of filming, this element broke and the actress fell very sharply.. The scene we saw on the screen was this one, and the screams of pain are real.
After what happened, the interpreter asked the priest who was an adviser (Thomas Berningham) to perform a real exorcism . He said that this would make everyone more nervous, so he preferred to bless each one of those who were in the cast. On top of that, they continued to cross themselves. But throughout the recording strange things happened: lights that fell, tapes with already recorded scenes that disappeared, whispers when answering the phone, objects that vanished, footsteps and voices that were heard… non-stop filming of the paranormal. Some of the technicians saw Friedkin “rolling on the floor and foaming at the mouth”, although he had his tactics to make the actors feel uncomfortable so that he could generate the tension he needed for the scenes. This filmmaker also put the music of “Psycho” in the background, during the rest minutes.
Without a doubt, for each of the performers and people who were on the team, it was an extremely intense shoot.