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The Exorcist starred a real-life murderer and it's terrifying to watch back

The Exorcist starred a real-life murderer and it's terrifying to watch back

The Exorcist had a real-life murderer in the cast that served 20 years in prison for what he did

The Exorcist is a scary enough film to begin with, but did you know that lurking within the cast there was an actual murderer? Here’s the film’s trailer in case you need a bit of a refresher on what it’s all about:

The Exorcist is one of the most famous films of all time, starring Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Lee J. Cobb, and Kitty Winn, the film tells the story of a 12-year-old girl gripped under the possession of a malevolent force.

There’s more than enough scenes in the film that have become etched permanently into popular culture, and the film caused enough controversy at the time to become regarded as one of the most infamous in cinema history.

However, there’s a sinister sub-plot that took place completely by accident, which was that one of the bit-part actors in the movie was actually a real-life murderer.

Warner Bros.

His name was Paul Bateson, and he eventually ended up serving a 20-year sentence in prison for what he did.

Bateson appeared in one of the most famous scenes in the movie, in which Regan – the girl possessed – is taken to the hospital for tests, including being catheterised through the neck, causing blood to spurt out.

Now, the scene itself is scary enough, but it takes on another sense altogether when you learn about the history of Bateson, who played a hospital technician.

Bateson in The Exorcist.
Warner Bros.

He was convicted in 1979 – just years after the film came out – for the murder of a journalist called Addison Verrill, as well as being suspected of the murders of a number of members of the gay community in 1970s New York.

Famously, Bateson was also the subject of one series of the hit Netflix crime drama Mindhunter.

Bateson, who was reportedly a radiographer, came to the attention of director William Friedkin during a visit he made to the New York University Medical Center while researching.

He invited Bateson to take part in filming as an extra on the film, having a small part in which he explained to Regan what was about to happen to her.

This all happened before he was convicted of murder.

Verrill was discovered in his own apartment, having been beaten and stabbed to death.

His friend, a fellow journalist called Arthur Bell, wrote a piece in newspaper The Village Voice, urging the killer to come forward.

Instead, he got a phone call from someone claiming to be responsible, stating that they met Verrill out partying, but became angry after returning to the flat and having their advances spurned.

The alleged killer told Bell: “I needed money and I hated the rejection. I decided to do something I'd never done before.”

Bateson (left) was convicted of the murder of Addison Verrill in 1979.
Warner Bros.

Reportedly, that meant hitting Verrill with a frying pan then stabbing his unconscious body and stealing some money, a credit card, his passport, and some clothes.

He also claimed that he wanted to ‘atone’ for other crimes.

Bell also received another call blaming Bateson for the murder, leading him to be jailed for 20 years.

None of the other murders could be pinned on him, despite the fact he allegedly confessed to one of them.

Bateson served his time and was released in 2003, after which nothing is known abut him, save for the fact that records show a man with his birthdate and the name Paul F. Bateson died in 2012.

The murders of the other men in Manhattan were never solved.

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Topics: Film and TV, True crime, Crime, US News