Travel Report: The Exorcist House & Steps, Washington DC.
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May 2007. I’ve always loved the idea of putting together a grand travel schedule that sees me lolloping around the world picking off my favorite movie locations. It’s virtually impossible of course, with a crazy budget needed to cover the distances required. Instead, I’ve had to make do with picking off a few key spots here and there and sometimes fortune alone throws up some big-hitters for me to cross off my list. Washington DC was one such opportunity and a huge one at that, as William Friedkin’s sublime 1973 horror classic The Exorcist is probably one of my top 20 movies. The film follows the ill-fated MacNeil family, whose daughter Regan becomes possessed by a demonic entity called Pazuzu. Exterior shots of the family residence and indeed its road can be found at 3600 Prospect Street in Washington DC’s upmarket Georgetown neighbourhood.
May 2007. I was delighted that the house looked exactly as I’d remembered it from the film and admit to feeling a little chill run down my spine as we stood there gazing up at it. Gone were the black iron railings though, replaced by a dense wooden fence and entry gate, probably as a direct result of the amount of speculative traffic the house gets from day to day. It was weird to be standing right on the spot where The Exorcist’s final scene plays out between Lieutenant Kinderman and Father Dyer.
May 2007. No interior shots were used on Prospect Street, those all played out at a specially constructed set in New York City. But still, anyone who’s seen the film knows only too well where Regan’s window is and, as I scooted around the side of the house, I knew I just had to hoist myself up and get a glimpse of the spot where, for want of a better expression, the shit goes down.
May 2007. As amazing as it was to see Prospect Street and its famous house, the highlight of our vsit that day was the adjacent Exorcist Steps where Father Damian Karras falls to his death having been blasted out of Regan’s window in one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history. Leading down from Prospect Street to M street, so little have the steps changed over the passing of the years that it literally felt like I’d been transported into the movie itself. According to William Peter Blatty, the movie’s screenwriter and author of the novel the film is based on, the steps have always had a haunting quality with locals referring to them as the Hitchcock Steps back when he attended Georgetown University.
May 2007. There was no doubt in my mind what had to be done that day. I didn’t care who was watching or how stupid I looked, it was simply a rite of passage. Alas Father Lignon, we knew him well. Hopefully you can work out which one was me.
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