One of the most controversial but critically acclaimed films of all time, The Exorcist is widely regarded as a seminal horror movie. If you’ve ever seen the film, you’ll understand why it is so revered, as well as recognizing how influential it is. If you’ve never seen the movie, you’re certainly in for a treat, but, be warned, it is not for the faint of heart.
William Friedkin’s groundbreaking horror movie set the scene for the future of the genre and gave birth to hundreds of supernatural horror movies. This year the flick will turn 45, so we figured it was a pretty good time to look at some of the lesser-known (but no less cool) facts about this disturbing, stunning milestone movie.
It’s based on a true story
Okay, we know, it seems like every other Hollywood movie claims to be based on true events these days, but it seems The Exorcist might have a more genuine claim to that. The novel, penned by William Peter Blatty, was actually said to be based on the real-life 1949 exorcism of a young boy. This became a major news headline, and caught Blatty’s attention; he changed the location to Washington, where he studied as a student when the news story broke.
Meet the woman behind THAT voice
The voice of the demon is one of the most iconic and unsettling things in the movie, and it was actually the voice of Mercedes McCambridge. McCambridge was a well-known voiceover and radio artist, and was once described by the great Orson Welles as “the greatest radio actress in the world.” High accolades indeed, and we’d say Mercedes earned it – in order to get the raspiness of the voice she started chain smoking and observed a diet of raw eggs and whiskey! Talk about dedication to one’s art!
It was the first horror nominated for the Best Picture Oscar
It’s common knowledge that horror flicks are not taken seriously when it comes to awards, certainly not the Academy Awards. And this is something that makes The Exorcist another trailblazer – it was the first ever horror flick to get the Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. It lost out of course, to The Sting, but it still managed to scoop the awards for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Sound Mixing, and was nominated for a total of 10 awards.
Linda Blair was never supposed to get the role
Ironically, considering her iconic performance, Linda Blair was never actually considered by the studio for the role of Regan MacNeil. In fact, Blair’s agents had never even considered telling her about the role. More than two dozen other young actresses were sent to audition for the part, but, it was Linda Blair’s mother who bagged her the role. Loving the script, she brought her daughter to the attention of the producers, and Blair won the role against more than 500 other actresses.
The Exorcist remains one of the most controversial, influential, and important movies in Hollywood history. It did things that had never been done before and showed how much a film could affect audiences. These are some of the cool things that we never knew about The Exorcist until we researched it, and now you know them as well – you’re welcome!