The Truth About The Exorcist Curse

It's an odd thing when death and terror leap from the production of a horror movie and follow the cast about. It's happened a few times, and each time the imaginative minds behind the movies and the equally credulous fans turn what could be natural coincidence into something of supernatural. Or, hey, maybe these haunting and curses actually exist. Proving that they don't exist is technically outside the limitations of science, so the legends have that going for them.

The Exorcist is generally considered the most terrifying movie of its time. The special effects and outrageous imagery of the film were revolutionary for the horror genre. The film came out in 1973, based on a 1971 novel by the same name. The novelist, William Peter Blatty, produced the film and wrote its screenplay. At the time, having Regan, a young, possessed girl, do the insane things that were shown on-screen were scary enough on their own. They pushed boundaries that had never been pushed before. And, doing so, may have released a curse on the cast. That's what some people believe, anyway.

Some crazy things happened during the film's production. For instance, the set burned down. Everyone was home for the night when the film's production manager called director William Friedkin and told him not to bother coming into work the next day. Rationally, Friedkin thought he was being fired for some reason, but that wasn't the case. There wasn't much of a set to which Friedkin could return.

Some untoward happenings

As Friedkin tells the story during an interview posted to Youtube, the set for the house was totally destroyed — except for Regan's possessed bedroom, which remained intact. To be fair, the room was a separate set from the house, but both were near each other, located in the same building. The fire caused production on the film to shut down for six weeks. The official insurance reports claim a pigeon must have flown into an electrical box, short-circuiting the thing and sparking the blaze. That was a stretch; the closest thing to evidence for the theory was that pigeons were present in the building. The production crew must've been worried that the film was being assailed by an evil presence, because they called in a priest to bless the set, according to CBS.

The weird happenings continued after the film was completed. The initial premiere in Rome provoked — something. As the film played in a cinema between two churches, lightning bellowed from the sky and a 400-year-old cross was struck, according to The Independent. The cross fell into the piazza like a vengeful spirit's bitter omen.

Nine people connected to the film died before it was completed

Hollywood curses typically surround a production that's plagued by a string of deaths, and The Exorcist's cast and crew saw plenty of that with the film. At least one of those deaths happened before the movie was finished. In total, according to The Guardian, nine people who were connected to the film died before it was even completed.

The first to die was actor Jack MacGowran, who played the fictional director Burke Dennings. MacGowran didn't die in real life by having his head twisted like a wind-up crank before being thrown from a window, like his character did. MacGowran died from complications with the flu. According to CBS, the rest of the deaths included everyone from actors to a night watchman to a special effects expert.

If the deaths aren't enough to convince you of a curse, there's a murder thrown in the mix as well. Paul Bateson, who played a radiology tech in The Exorcist, murdered a Variety reporter in 1977, reports Esquire. At one point he was also thought to have been a serial killer who murdered at least six other people between 1975-1977, but those accusations were eventually dropped because there wasn't enough evidence. Not even pigeons.

An ominous warning was issued

A creepy film with equally creepy occurrences following it is made all the more creepy when one of the film's leading stars receives an ominous warning during filming. Such is the case with The Exorcist. Jason Miller played the Jesuit psychologist, Father Karras, who helped exorcise the demon Pazuzu from Regan before taking said demon into his own body and throwing himself down the stairs in a spiritual murder-suicide.

According to The Independent, Miller was approached by a real priest in the street while the movie was filming. The priest in question supposedly had no knowledge of The Exorcist, what it was about, or that Miller was connected to the project. It's reported that the priest handed Miller a sacred medallion and said, "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."

We're not sure about you, but to us, that could definitely be taken one of two ways: There was a demon haunting The Exorcist project, or sometimes priests spout nonsense at you in the street and hand you a shiny object. Had the warning been taken seriously (if indeed it happened at all), maybe it could've spared the lives of the film's forsaken nine. That is, if you believe in that sort of thing.