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The Real And Terrifying Injury Caused On The Set Of "The Exorcist"

Real movie experience

By Deji AkomolafePublished about a month ago 3 min read

The 1973 horror classic "The Exorcist," directed by William Friedkin, is renowned not only for its chilling storyline and groundbreaking special effects but also for the numerous eerie and harrowing incidents that occurred during its production. Among the most startling stories from the set is the injury sustained by Linda Blair, the young actress who played the possessed girl, Regan MacNeil. This injury, which occurred while filming one of the movie's most iconic scenes, left a lasting impact on Blair and contributed to the film's legacy of being plagued by misfortune.

The Mechanical Bed Incident

One of the most intense scenes in "The Exorcist" involves Regan being violently thrashed around on her bed as she is possessed by a demonic entity. To achieve the disturbing realism of this scene, a mechanical rig was constructed to create the violent shaking. Linda Blair was strapped to this mechanical bed, which was operated by a special effects team to simulate the supernatural thrashing.

However, during one of the takes, the rig malfunctioned or was operated with too much force, causing Blair to be thrown about far more violently than intended. The young actress, who was only 13 years old at the time, screamed out in pain, and these screams were captured on film. What makes this story particularly haunting is that the screams heard in the final cut of the movie were not just acting – they were Blair's genuine reactions to the excruciating pain she was experiencing.

The Aftermath

The violent thrashing resulted in Blair sustaining a fractured lower spine. The injury had immediate and long-term repercussions on her health, causing her chronic pain and requiring medical attention long after the film wrapped. Despite the severity of her injury, Blair continued working on the film, demonstrating incredible resilience and professionalism for someone so young.

Blair has spoken about the incident in various interviews over the years, revealing the extent of the pain and trauma she endured during that scene. She has also expressed mixed feelings about the use of her real screams of pain in the final cut of the movie. On one hand, it contributed to the film's authenticity and intense atmosphere, but on the other, it was a painful reminder of a traumatic experience.

The Curse of "The Exorcist"

Linda Blair's injury was just one of many unfortunate events that occurred during the production of "The Exorcist," leading to rumors that the film was cursed. The set experienced multiple accidents, including a fire that destroyed much of the set, requiring costly and time-consuming repairs. Several cast and crew members, including Blair and co-star Ellen Burstyn, suffered injuries during filming.

Additionally, there were reports of mysterious deaths associated with the film. Jack MacGowran, who played Burke Dennings, and Vasiliki Maliaros, who played Father Karras' mother, both died shortly after filming their scenes. These incidents, combined with the film's disturbing content, fueled speculation that supernatural forces were at play.

The Legacy of "The Exorcist"

Despite, or perhaps because of, the numerous difficulties and eerie occurrences during its production, "The Exorcist" became a monumental success. It broke box office records, received critical acclaim, and was nominated for ten Academy Awards, winning two. The film's ability to evoke genuine fear and unease has cemented its status as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

For Linda Blair, her role in "The Exorcist" was both a blessing and a curse. The film catapulted her to stardom, earning her a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award nomination. However, the physical and emotional toll of the production, combined with being typecast and facing backlash from religious groups, made her subsequent career challenging.

Blair has since embraced her legacy as a horror icon, often participating in interviews and documentaries about the film. She has also used her fame to advocate for various causes, including animal rights.


The story of Linda Blair's injury on the set of "The Exorcist" is a poignant reminder of the real-life challenges and dangers that actors can face in their pursuit of cinematic authenticity. It also underscores the broader narrative of the film's troubled production, which has become as legendary as the movie itself. "The Exorcist" continues to captivate and terrify audiences, not only through its on-screen horror but also through the dark tales behind its creation.

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Deji Akomolafe

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    Deji AkomolafeWritten by Deji Akomolafe

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