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[R.I.P.] ‘The Exorcist’ Special Effects Master Marcel Vercoutere

Marcel Vercoutere, who built the life-sized animatronic robot for Linda Blair’s possessed Regan in The Exorcist has died at the age of 87. Many of us weren’t alive at the time of the film’s release and even less of us were of the age to see it in a theater, but by all accounts the moment that robot’s head spun around was a huge pop culture “moment.” No one had seen anything like that before, and Vercoutere’s work still holds up today.

Whenever we cover a possession movie here on BD, everyone (including me) acknowledges that it’s sort of amazing how nothing in the past 40 years has even come close to touching The Exorcist in terms of impact. Vercoutere was a huge part of that.

Cinematographer Owen Roizman told the LA Times, “ He had made this unbelievable robot and everything about it worked — it almost had facial expressions. I was standing there looking at it and I said, ‘You know what, we forgot something. We don’t have any breath coming out.’ Marcel just said, ‘I’ll deal with that.’ He was so calm. And before you know it … the dummy had breath.

Head inside to see the robot 40 years later!

Pic courtesy of Amity Photos.

Marcel Vercoutere (in back) on set with William Friedkin



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