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Dark Destinations > Locations - E > The Exorcist Steps


 
The Exorcist Steps Other destinations within a
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Availability: Open to the Public
Filed Under: Movie Locations > The Exorcist Series
Added By: TheCabinet
Added On: April 19, 2007 - 01:45 PM UTC
Last Modified: April 29, 2008 - 04:07 PM UTC
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Washington, District of Columbia, United States
 
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The Exorcist Steps
This is the staircase that was used in the movie The Exorcist and played a pivotal role in the film's climax. The steps are located on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., along with a couple of other locations that were used in the film. In fact, the MacNeil House where the film's exorcism took place is located at the top of this staircase - dubbed the "Hitchcock Steps" by the crew. The Exorcist author William Peter Blatty was a student at Georgetown University and got his inspiration for the novel from a series of articles about an exorcism case that was rumored to have taken place in nearby Mount Rainier and Saint Louis, Missouri.

The stairs were the scene of two major deaths in the film, though only during the climatic scene does the camera follow Father Karras's (Jason Miller) sacrificial plunge down the steps. Word got out around Georgetown when the scene was being shot and the adjacent houses soon rented out their roof space for $5 a person to watch. In preparation of the fall, the stairs were lined half-inch thick rubber and a bag that dispersed blood was taped to stuntman Charlie Walters's back, so that blood spurted from the back of his neck every time he turned over. Walters took the plunge not once, but twice; ultimately coming to a rest at the bottom with the blood bag still leaking and producing a pool of blood.

At the bottom of the steps, the scene continued with Father Dyer rushing through a crowd of onlookers to deliver last rites to his friend. Dyer was portrayed by real-life Father William O'Malley who was not a professional actor. After fifteen takes and reaching around 2:00 A.M., director William Friedkin told O'Malley that he was not delivering the look of horror and devastation that he wanted. After O'Malley pleaded his exhaustion, Friedkin asked him twice if he trusted him (O'Malley replied that he did) and then hauled off and slapped hard him across the face, then told the cameras to roll. A shaken, teary-eyed O'Malley immediately delivered the lines and Friedkin got the scene he wanted.

Later Films
The ending of The Exorcist II: The Heretic takes Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) back to her former home in Georgetown. The filmmakers behind the remake had hoped to return to the original sets, but were quickly rebuffed by the owner of the MacNeil House, as well as the city who refused permission to once again use the "Hitchcock Steps." Both the house and the staircase seen in the sequel were instead constructed on the Warner Brothers backlot in Burbank, California.

However, when Blatty took a run at doing his own sequel with 1990's The Exorcist III, the production once again returned to Georgetown. The stairs also returned in a couple of scenes, including one where the camera takes the plunge and the audience gets the last viewpoint of Father Karras's fall down the steps.

A Georgetown University Tradition
Every Halloween, the University has a screening of The Exorcist in nearby Gaston Hall. After the film is over, it has become a tradition for students to take a tour of the nearby locations from the film to try and spook themselves out. Older students at the university reportedly also commonly urge the freshmen to visit the steps as something of a rite of initiation to the school.

The Location
Starting from Prospect Street, the stairs provide a quick route to nearby M Street. Given their steep nature, it is safe to say that those less in shape got their work cut out for them. They are open to the general public at all hours. Those that want the greatest spook factor should probably go at night, but be careful! They are quite steep and it would not be pleasant to take a tumble down those, just as the movie showed.
 
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O.T.I.S.(Odd Things I've Seen): Exorcist Stairs - From: O.T.I.S. (03/15/09, 05:58 PM UTC)
Article excerpt from O.T.I.S. (Odd Things I've Seen): "Me and the stairs go back a ways. I wouldn’t call what we have a history; it just pops up i...More
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Related Sites
The Exorcist Revisited
Fan site dedicated to The Exorcist series, including a visit to locations associated with the original film.
The Haunted Boy: The Inspiration for The Exorcist
A five-part article by Mark Opsasnick that explores the true story behind the inspiration for William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. The article relies on newspaper reportings at the times, as well as Blatty's own explorations into the case.
 
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See Also on TheCabinet.com
Movie of the Day - 2/9/2007
Blog: The Exorcist and the Academy Awards (04/02/09)
 
Available from Amazon.com
The Exorcist (The Version You've Never Seen)
The Exorcist
The Exorcist
The Exorcist 3
The Exorcist (25th Anniversary Special Edition)
Dc Goes to the Movies: A Unique Guide to the Reel Washington
Shot On This Site: A Traveler's Guide to the Places and Locations Used to Film Famous Movies and TV Shows
Washington, D.C. Off the Beaten Path, 4th: A Guide to Unique Places (Off the Beaten Path Series)
The Exorcist - Vintage Movie Poster
Exorcist (Linda Blair Scary Face) Movie Poster Print - 24" X 36"
Exorcist (Linda Blair in Green Light) Movie Poster Print - 24" X 36"
 
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The Exorcist Steps
Looking down the staircase in September 2002 in Georgetown that was used in The Exorcist.
From: TheCabinet
 
More Exorcist Steps
Another view from September 2002 looking down the staircase that was used in The Exorcist.
From: TheCabinet
 
O.T.I.S. at the Exorcist Stairs
O.T.I.S. at the Exorcist Stairs
From: O.T.I.S.
 
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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