How well do you actually remember the 1973 film, The Exorcist?


By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: The Movie DB

About This Quiz

This was the movie that sent a generation of horror-movie lovers out of the theater and back to church! Now, revisit this iconic horror film with our quiz!

Which author wrote the novel that was the basis for The Exorcist?

Blatty worked in a time when novelists were more highly thought-of in Hollywood. He was present on the set, and he successfully sued for a credit line in the film, calling it, William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist.


Where does the story open?

Yes, it's Iraq. This is the scene in which an ancient artifact is found, which sets the whole plot in motion. It's not uncommon for horror movies to start in an exotic locale, with an event that links what's about to happen to the distant past.


What is the name of the little girl who becomes possessed?

Her name is Regan. The androgynous name was a trendsetting choice in the early '70s. Popular girls' names of that era included Susan, Donna, Lisa, and Deborah/Debra.


How old is Regan?

Regan tells a doctor that she is twelve, early in the film. Later, her dialogue gets a lot less useful -- and a lot more sweary.


In what line of work is Regan's mother, Chris MacNeil?

Chris is implied to be successful in her acting career. She's wrapping up a shoot, with her daughter traveling with her.


Where are the MacNeils living?

The film Chris is in seems to be not about national politics, but about turmoil at a college. The campus is that of Georgetown University, a renowned Catholic university just outside Washington, D.C.


What is the first sign something is wrong in the Georgetown house?

The first scene in the Georgetown house has Chris noticing strange noises. She asks her handyman to set out traps, which are later seen empty, with the cheese untouched.


What does Regan do that seems to make her vulnerable to the demon?

Ouija boards have a bad reputation in movies and TV, but it's widely known that the "force" controlling the planchette is simply ideomotor movements -- small subtle movements that feel involuntary. This has been proven in tests where blindfolded participants cannot "receive" messages from the other side.


What is Father Karras' first name?

The 1970s were an up-and-down year for the name Damien" First, it was The Exorcist's saintly priest, then the son of the Devil in The Omen.


What happens to cause Father Karras' crisis of faith?

Karras' mother is still alive when he tells a superior in the priesthood, "I can't cut it," and that he wants to be replaced. Though his mother's subsequent death shakes him, it's clear that his issues precede her death.


By what name does Regan call the entity she contacts on the Ouija board?

Regan tells her mother about Captain Howdy after Chris finds the Ouija board Regan has been using. Regan tries to summon Captain Howdy, but he refuses to come.


Aside from being a priest, Father Karras has training in which field?

Karras is the parish's psychiatric counselor, another priest explains to Chris at a cocktail party. His uncle complains that Karras could have been rich, housing his mother in a Park Avenue apartment.


After Regan tells the astronaut, "You're going to die up there," what does she do?

Regan urinates on the rug while party guests are gathered around a piano, singing. The man playing the piano is, appropriately enough, the priest, Father Dyer.


What do doctors initially think is wrong with Regan?

Regan has an arteriogram in the hospital. Some audience members found this detailed and realistic scene to be the most disturbing in the movie. Regan is first diagnosed with a lesion in the temporal lobe of the brain. A malfunction in this part of the brain can cause hallucinations and intense spiritual feelings.


Who first contacts Father Karras about the mysterious events?

Lt. Kinderman thinks a desecration at the church and the death of Burke Dennings are related. He contacts Karras because Karras is a psychiatric counselor who would know if anyone was "sick" in a way that predisposed them to both crimes.


What is unusual about Burke Dennings' death?

His head is twisted around, as Regan's will be later in the film. Early on, Dennings is simply believed to have fallen down the stairs outside the house, and it's chalked up to an accident. Gradually, Father Karras and Chris come to believe that Regan pushed him out the window, after which he continued to fall down the stairs.


What movie does Lt. Kinderman say he has passes to?

This is part of some witty back-and-forth banter between priest and cop. Kinderman isn't serious; when asked who's in Othello, Kinderman says it's Groucho Marx as Othello and Debbie Reynolds as Desdemona.


Who first suggests exorcism to Chris?

The lead doctor calls exorcism "an outside chance." He says it works because the mentally ill person believes they are possessed.


What does Chris find under Regan's pillow?

Chris finds a crucifix under Regan's pillow. This is odd given that Chris has just said neither she nor her daughter has strong religious beliefs. Chris pursues the issue with her household staff. They all deny putting it there.


What is significant about the holy water Father Karras sprinkles on Regan?

It isn't really holy water. Regan reacts violently to contact with the water, however, which Karras has told her is holy water. Later, Karras tells Chris the truth, saying, "It doesn't support a case for possession."


What did the film crew use for the vomit Regan spews on Father Karras?

According to the Internet Move Database, the pea soup used was Andersen's -- the brand known for their restaurant in Buellton, California. This is something Andersen's leaves out of their advertising -- probably wisely.


At the language lab, when Karras plays the tape of Regan speaking in tongues, what language does the linguist say she is speaking?

It's English! The only reason it's unrecognizable to Karras is that it's backwards. When Karras hears the voices in the correct order, he hears the phrases, "Fear the priest" and "Let her die."


Where is Father Merrin when they send for him?

The name Woodstock probably made people think of the 1969 rock festival. However, the film is referring to a seminary in Maryland, now closed.


What does Father Merrin tell Karras he must avoid during the exorcism?

Merrin tells Karras to avoid conversation, because the demon will mix lies with the truth to rattle them. He says, "We may ask what is relevant," but that is all.


What happens as the priests first begin to pray over Regan?

The bed levitates. A moment later, Regan spits green vomit at Father Merrin. Perhaps the film's only comic moment comes when Karras ducks behind a bedpost at that moment -- he was already vomited on in his first meeting with Regan.


Who is at the door, when Chris answers it during the exorcism?

Kinderman doesn't have much to do in the movie. But he serves as a "sane, rational" observer to the supernatural action; many movies about the paranormal have such a character.


How does Father Merrin die?

We don't see Merrin die. However, there are no marks of violence on him, and Karras gives him CPR, indicating heart failure.


After the demon enters Karras, why does Karras fall out the window?

After the demon enters Karras, we see him approach Regan with hands clenched to strangle her. However, at that point the priest asserts himself, yells "No!" and jumps through the window.


Linda Blair is famous for playing Regan, but who played her mother, Chris?

Ellen Burstyn played Chris. Janet Leigh was sought for the role of Chris, and Jamie Lee Curtis for the part of Regan. They are, of course, mother and daughter, but that dream casting didn't work out.


Who played Father Karras?

Jason Miller was a playwright-actor that director William Friedkin saw and liked in the play, That Championship Season, which Miller also wrote. Stacy Keach had already been cast as Karras, but he was replaced.


Who played the veteran priest, Father Merrin?

Von Sydow was only in his mid-40s at the time. Extensive makeup aged him to his 70s. Apparently, Friedkin really wanted Von Sydow instead of the many actors the right age for the role.


Which real-life actress inspired Chris MacNeil?

Novelist Blatty knew Shirley MacLaine and observed her life as a single mother to a daughter. This went into his characterization of Regan's mother.


What is the name of the demon?

The name Pazuzu is never actually mentioned in the film. However, Blatty's book contains it, and it's well-known to fans of the movie.


Why were studio executives nervous about the title, The Exorcist?

There was some evidence for this theory. Market research showed that most people were unaware what "exorcist" meant. Nowadays, of course, it's rare to find a person who doesn't.


The Exorcist was the first horror film to receive what honor?

The Exorcist received a nomination for Best Picture. Jaws and The Silence of the Lambs were later nominated. Silence was the first horror movie to win Best Picture; in fact, it nearly swept the major awards.


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