The Exorcist is, to this day, considered one of the scariest horror movies of all time. The film was immensely popular and incredibly successful when it debuted. It was considered so disturbing at the time of its release in 1973 that audiences were even given barf bags to help get through it.
Since its release, it has served as an inspiration for countless movies and the horror genre at large. The original film spawned several sequels and even a television show. You may have heard about how the film supposedly had a haunted set, but there are lots of other hidden details about The Exorcist you might not have heard about before.
10 Moving Crucifix
This might be evidence of a flub in filmmaking or an issue with continuity, but before the infamous crucifix scene involving Regan, you can see the crucifix located elsewhere in the house.
It can be spotted in the living room. We don't see how it makes its way up to Regan's bedroom. Most likely, this was a technical error. Or it could just be more indication of Regan's supernatural ability to make objects move on a whim.
9 Pazuzu Statues
Pazuzu is the central antagonist in the movie. He is considered the king of demons and the demon that ultimately wound up possessing Regan. There are images and statues of Pazuzu hidden in the movie.
If you look carefully, you'll see them stashed away in certain frames and moments of the movie. It was done by the film crew to add a sense of dread into the film and create subliminal messaging, something that is done frequently in The Exorcist.
8 Based on Real Diaries
The original novel written by William Peter Blatty was loosely based on the case of a real exorcism of a 14-year-old boy dubbed Roland Doe. The case occurred in the 1940s and supposedly incurred supernatural activity and unsettling side effects when Roland became possessed and began to act out.
Blatty used this case as inspiration when writing the story and therefore The Exorcist film also took things from the actual case seeing as it adapted the novel.
7 Real Mental Patients Acted As Extras In The Movie
During the scene where Father Karras visits his mother at Bellevue, many of the other women featured in the background were real mental patients at the time. Some of the scene was even filmed by using hidden cameras.
If you watch the scene closely, you will be able to see them milling around the place as Father Karras enters. It helps give the scene a better sense of realism and makes Bellevue feel like an actual hospital.
6 One of Regan's Clay Sculptures Winds Up Somewhere Strange
One of the mysteries of The Exorcist is about who killed Burke Dennings. He helped direct a student film and was a babysitter for Regan one night. Unfortunately for poor Burke, he winds up dead by being tossed out a window.
It is never 100% confirmed who killed him, but you might notice that one of Regan's clay sculptures wound up buried beside Burke. It is heavily implied that Pazuzu killed Burke while possessing Regan, which seems like the most obvious answer.
5 Subliminal Background Noise
In order to add to the strange and frightening atmosphere of the film, the film director, William Friedkin, added extra noises in the background of certain scenes. He has talked about adding the sounds of buzzing bees and more to enhance the horror.
While you might not be able to pick these sounds out individually, they are layered over each other to create unique and otherworldly noises during some of the movie's scariest moments. Even more terrifying is the fact that Regan's demonic noises were created by the sounds of pigs squealing before being slaughtered.
4 Interesting Wall Art
There is some interesting art on Regan's bedroom wall. If you're a fan of fairy tales, you might have picked up on the strange and dark fairy tale paintings hanging there. One depicts Hansel and Gretel attempting to escape the witch.
The witch and Regan are dressed in the same colors when we see it there. Another shows the Big Bad Wolf dressed as the grandma, meaning the wolf has already infiltrated the house. All of this indicates that Regan has already been possessed by Pazuzu.
3 Creating the Demonic Voice Was A Brutal Process
Accomplished radio actress Mercedes McCambridge was responsible for voicing Regan while she was possessed. The voice is enough to give you the chills, but creating it wasn't an easy process.
McCambridge would drink raw eggs, alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and more to achieve the gritty, raspy quality. It definitely wasn't healthy for her or her vocal cords, but it did work in achieving what is now considered an iconic voice role and terrifying dialogue.
2 That Neck Snapping Sound Is Actually A Wallet
There are tons of iconic scenes in The Exorcist, but perhaps the most iconic is when Regan's head turns around completely. It's one of those moments that burns itself into your brain.
Well, the chilling sound that accompanies it comes from an unlikely source. They actually used an old, cracked leather wallet that had cards in it. Then they ran credit cards across it and twisted the wallet up close to a microphone to make that fateful sound.
1 White-faced Demon
If you pay close attention while watching the movie, you might notice that a strange white-faced demon pops up from time to time in a subliminal image. The original image was never meant to be used in the film, as it was created as a make-up test to do Regan's ultimate demon make-up.
However, the image was so sinister and creepy that they decided it might be fun to splice the image into the film to add to the sense of uneasiness. The Exorcist has quite a bit of subliminal messaging through creepy sounds, hidden imagery, and small little details that you might not notice until you've seen the movie several times through.