Inside The Exorcist curse - from cast deaths to freak fire and injuries

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Inside The Exorcist curse - from cast deaths to freak fire and injuries
Inside The Exorcist curse - from cast deaths to freak fire and injuries

As the devastating news of The Exorcist's director William Friedkin's death is announced, we take a look back at the iconic horror film and the mysterious curse that has surrounded it for over four decades.

William's wife's friend confirmed that the director died in Los Angeles on Monday Chapman University dean Stephen Galloway announced. He was best known for his Oscar-winning move, The French Connection, and the huge horror film The Exorcist which has been at the centre of a string of surprising incidents, including a freak fire, cast deaths and injuries on set.

To start, actor Jack MacGowran, who played Burke Dennings and in the film and was killed by possessed youngster Regan MacNeil, went on to pass away from complications with influenza before the film's release.

Vasiliki Maliaros who acted as Father Damien Karras’ mother in the film also died “natural causes," according to an inquest, while it was also revealed that she had no previous acting experience and was plucked from the street to work on the film. Other cast members, including Linda Blair, who played Regan, and Max von Sydow, who played Father Merrin, had reported losing family members during production.

Inside The Exorcist curse - from cast deaths to freak fire and injuries eideziqkeiqhhinvJack MacGowran passed away before the film's release (Warner Bros/Hoya Prods/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)
Inside The Exorcist curse - from cast deaths to freak fire and injuriesThe film was shrouded by news of the curse (Warner Bros/Hoya Prods/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

Adding more mystery to the situation, the son of Jason Miller, who played Father Karrass was in a near-fatal motorcycle incident during filming. While there were many deaths surrounding the production on the show which resulting in multiple push-backs for filming, a freak fire wrecked the set of Regan’s family home after a bird flew into the circuit box. The only part of the set that survived was the bedroom where the exorcisms would take place.

'Disturbing' Exorcist Believer trailer gives fans 'chills' ahead of scary sequel'Disturbing' Exorcist Believer trailer gives fans 'chills' ahead of scary sequel

There were also a number of injuries on the set, including Ellen Burstyn's spinal injury while being hoisted around on a harness, meaning she was left on crutches for the rest of the production.

Inside The Exorcist curse - from cast deaths to freak fire and injuriesLinda and Ellen suffered from injuries on set (PA)

Her co-star Linda Blair also claimed there was "poor rigging" on set and went on to suffer from multiple injuries on other film sets too – including a motorcycle accident and multiple falls from horses.

Later, when the film was released in cinemas, a woman “passed out and broke her jaw" and sued Warner Bros for an undisclosed sum, while in Rome, a lightning bolt struck a church opposite the cinema.

Lauren Gordon

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