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

Few films are as terrifying as 1973's "The Exorcist." Adding to the spook-factor of this classic horror film is the slew of unfortunate injuries, mistakes, and mishaps that occurred on set, which has led many to believe the film is cursed. From the get-go, things went wrong. A fire broke out on set after hours, delaying filming for six weeks. Cast and crew members got hurt left and right. Key props were lost at crucial moments. Eventually, director William Friedkin asked Father Thomas Bermingham S.J, a Jesuit priest and an advisor on the film, to exorcise the set.

Bermingham, who could not actually perform an exorcism, blessed the set. "Nothing else happened on the set after the blessing," Bermingham said (via American Hauntings), "but around that time, there was a fire in the Jesuit residence set in Georgetown."

For many on set, however, the blessing came a little too late. From electricians losing toes to bouts of sunstroke, "The Exorcist" racked up a disturbing history. There was even an injury incurred on set that continues to affect an "Exorcist" star today.

Linda Blair incurred a major back injury

Regan MacNeil is violently thrashed around her room by the demon possessing her body. This effect was achieved by rigging actress Linda Blair to the bed, which moved mechanically. "In this particular take, the lacing came loose," Blair explains in Episode 1 of "Cursed Films." "I'm crying, I'm screaming, they think I'm acting up a storm. It fractured my lower spine. No, they didn't send me to the doctor, it is the footage that's in the movie."

Blair's fractured spine has had long-range ramifications. According to USA Today, following another on-set injury involving a motorcycle and multiple falls from horses, Blair developed scoliosis. The actress has sought both conventional and alternative medical treatments to help her condition. Luckily, she's been able to find relief. Although she could certainly do without the life-long repercussions of her injury, Blair does believe that "The Exorcist" made her into the person she is today.

Sadly, Ellen Burstyn also suffered a back injury during filming. For the scene in which Regan slaps her across the room, Burstyn was pulled to the floor with a wire. The force of the pull ended up permanently injuring her.