On December 26, 1973, The Exorcist, based on the book by William Peter Blatty, opened in theaters across the country. The film has been out for 47 years now, but there are still some chilling details that even the biggest horror buffs might not know. Here are 5 crazy facts about the movie The Exorcist…
The Movie Was Based On A True Story
William Peter Blatty's novel upon which the film was based, also called The Exorcist, was itself inspired by a real-life exorcism that took place in 1949. A boy in Maryland, known only by the pseudonym "Ronald Doe," suffered from an inexplicable ailment. After the death of the boy’s aunt, strange occurrences that included odd noises, furniture moving by itself, and objects flying through the air began. The story became national news, and caught the interest of Blatty, who was a student at Georgetown University at the time. Subsequent supernatural claims surrounding the events were used as elements in William Blatty's novel The Exorcist in 1971.
The Demon’s Voice In The Movie Was Voiced By A Popular Actress Mercedes McCambridge, who was referred to by Orson Wells as the greatest radio actress in the world, was hired to provide the voice for Linda Blair’s most demonic moments. McCambridge insisted on swallowing raw eggs and chain smoking to alter her vocalizations. The actress, who had had problems with alcohol abuse in the past, furthermore wanted to drink whiskey as she knew alcohol would distort her voice even more, and create the crazed state of mind of the character. McCambridge was also bound to a chair with pieces of a torn sheet at her neck, arms, wrists, legs and feet to get a more realistic sound of the demon struggling against its restraints.
Pig Squeals Were Included In The Sound Of The Demon Possession
The film's sound was notable for its bizarre sound effects. According to a 1974 Rolling Stone article, the sound designers used a variety of recording techniques and realistic, as opposed to electronic, sounds. Regan MacNeil's grunting and moaning while possessed were created by remixing pig squeals. The sound effect you hear when the demon is exorcised from Regan's body is the sound of a group of pigs being led to slaughtered. In one instance, a variable speed oscillator was used to "tune" the buzzing of a trapped bee to various pitches to create a chord cluster spanning four octaves.
It Was The First Horror Film To Be Nominated For Best Picture
The Academy Awards has never been fond of horror movies, but they could not ignore The Exorcist. The movie received ten Oscar nominations in 1974, including one for 15-year-old Linda Blair as Best Supporting Actress. Unfortunately, Blair’s nomination was met with much controversy as word about McCambridge’s contribution to the role spread. The film walked away with two wins at the Academy Awards that year, one for Best Adapted Screenplay and the other for Best Sound Mixing.
The Fascinating Truth About the Pea Soup Scene
The sight of Regan's projectile vomiting on Father Karras is one of the most powerful scenes in The Exorcist, and one of the most disgusting. It is well known that the substance used to create the scene was pea soup. But not just any pea soup was used. Campbell’s soup was tried first, but the crew apparently preferred the look of Andersen’s pea soup with some oatmeal mixed in, to create the right texture. Watching this sight made some audience members so nauseous that some theaters included barf bags with the ticket.
The Theatrical Release Caused “Cinematic Neurosis” Over the holiday weekend that The Exorcist opened and the weeks that followed, visceral audience reactions swept the country. Fainting, vomiting, panic, and even reports of miscarriages and heart attacks lead to further reporting of panic and hysteria surrounding the film’s release. The frenzy was so publicized that it even lead to medical journalists giving a psychiatric name for the craze associated with the horror film, titled “cinematic neurosis.” To say that the film struck a nervous chord in America would be putting it mildly.