5 Chilling Facts You Probably Didn't Know About The Exorcist

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 46 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…

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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.

The Movie Was Based on a Real Exorcism 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. Doctors couldn't help, so the family consulted their Lutheran Priest. He referred them to the Roman Catholic Church, which approved an exorcism after inspecting the circumstances of the possession.

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The Film Set Was Believed to Be Cursed Actor Jack MacGowran and actress Vasiliki Maliaros both died shortly after filming wrapped on The Excorcist. MacGowran of the flu, Maliaros of natural causes. Actresses Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair were both injured while filming the movie, and the son of Mercedes McCambridge, who voiced the demon, murdered his wife and two daughters before taking his own life after being accused of fraud in November of 1987. All told, nine people associated with the movie died violently, mysteriously, or during or immediately after filming. 

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It Was Banned in the UK In 1974, The Exorcist was released in the UK with an X rating. A few local authorities banned the film, which led to buses providing transit for The Exorcist viewing tours. Then, in 1988, it was banned from video sale under the Video Recordings Act. Though it had already been available for seven years, it was taken off shelves. Because apparently the British government had nothing better to do in the 80s than review movies for home release suitability.

It Was the First Horror Film to Be Nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards The Exorcist was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and took home two: Best Screenplay and Best Sound Mixing. It's nomination for Best Picture made it the first horror film nominated for the prestigious award, a feat not even Rosemary's Baby could claim six years earlier, when it nabbed a few historic noms. The Silence of the Lambs is the only horror film to win the Best Picture award.