“Tatort” from Vienna: exorcism and pea soup

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“Tatort” from Vienna
Exorcism and pea soup

By Ingo Scheel

By the time Natalie’s voice sounded like she was “singing” in a death metal band in “Tatort” the night before, the reference penny dropped: The vulgar grunt of the throat comes from William Friedkin’s classic movie “The Exorcist,” in which Starring: Linda Blair. Here are ten infernal facts about the controversial 1973 classic.

1. When Linda Blair first started one of those diabolical diatribes in her role as the devil-possessed Regan McNeil, her counterpart, Max von Sydow aka Father Lenkin, was so shocked that he promptly forgot his lines.

2. So that the then 13-year-old could vomit convincingly, she was given the vegetable dish she detested as the devil hates holy water: pea soup.

3. Among the young actresses who auditioned for the role of Regan were Laura Dern and Melanie Griffith, and Sharon Stone was briefly considered a contender for the role.

4. Linda Blair’s mother has a small cameo role – as a nurse.

5. At the US premiere on December 26, 1973, cinema audiences were sometimes so upset that ambulances had to be called. Spectators became hysterical, others lost consciousness.

6. The shooting was overshadowed by some strange events. The Pazuzu statue was first shipped to Hong Kong before arriving at the filming location in Iraq. Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn, who played her mother, suffered injuries, some serious. When a bird got lost in a fuse box, it shorted out and the whole set burned down – only the room where the drastic exorcism scenes were to be filmed was undamaged.

7. Not only Linda Blair, but also Max von Sydow had to put on makeup every day. While Blair was trimmed to be creepy, Sydow had to age visually. It took her about two hours at a time, and about twice as long for him.

8. The film score contains some so-called “musique concrètes” and experimental classical music, including by Harry Bee and George Crumb. William Friedkin was the first director to use music by Pole Kryzsztof Penderecki in a horror film, and his “Polymorphia” was later used by such greats as Stanley Kubrick (“Shining”) and David Lynch (“Inland Empire”).

9. “The Exorcist” was nominated for ten Oscars, including the first horror film in the main category “Best Picture”. In the end there were only two, author William Blatty got the prize for the best screenplay, there was another statue for the best sound. Linda Blair’s nomination became controversial when it was revealed that the particularly intense scenes were shot with her doppelganger Eileen Dietz, also referred to by Mercedes McCambridge.

10. “Entertainment Weekly” and “Maxim” voted “The Exorcist” the “Scaryst Movie of All Time”.

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