When the movie “The Exorcist” came out in December 1973, it became an instant hit in the United States. Distributed by Warner Bros, it became the company’s highest-grossing film of all time as of 1975.
Adjusted for inflation, the worldwide gross income still makes it to the top 15 today.
The Exorcist has all the right ingredients for a successful horror movie: the relatable American neighborhood as background and nail-biting plot of demonic possession.
Whether or not you realize it, the film is based on actual events – or rather a diary written by a priest involved in an actual exorcism rite that made national headlines in the late 1940s.
Unlike in the movie, the person allegedly possessed by demonic creatures was a 13-year-old boy known as Roland Doe, a pseudonym to hide his true identity.
Many publications and reports say the boy was from Mount Rainier, Maryland. Since Roland never talked about the story himself, there can be some conflicting accounts.
The diary, not the movie, remains the single most reliable source of what happened to him before, during, and after the rites.
10 /10 Haunted Boy
At large, the media and public learned about the alleged demonic possession when the Washington Post ran an article on August 10, 1949, about a haunted boy in a suburban Maryland home.
According to an unnamed minister, the Roland family began seeing strange events on January 18, for example, objects jumping to the floor at the boy’s presence, bed shaking violently, scratching noises from the walls, and so on.
The curious minister then arranged for the boy to spend a night in his home on February 17. During the stay, he also claimed to have encountered unexplainable occurrences.
9 /10 Violent Screaming
The Washington Post published another story about Roland Doe on August 20, but this time with some detailed explanations.
The demonic creature that had possessed the boy was finally cast out after 20 – 30 ancient rites of exorcism.
The first rite was conducted in St. Louis, then Washington, and back to St. Louis. Roland would often break into screaming, cursing, and citing Latin phrases during many of the rites.
When the last performance was given, however, Roland became quiet and reported at the end that he had a vision of St. Michael casting the devil out.