A Background Actor In The Exorcist Was A Real-Life Serial Killer
At the beginning of The Exorcist, the mother takes her possessed daughter to see a neuropsychiatric surgeon, only to be told that her demonic possession is but a muscle spasm. Ironically, this seemingly inconsequential little sequence is actually the scariest moment of this film -- as long as you know where to look.
"Can you turn your head this way? And keep turning? Forever? That's it, very good."
That's Paul Bateson, a real-life X-ray technician that Exorcist director William Friedkin cast for a small part in the film. With only a few lines in the scene, you probably didn't even think about him. That is, unless you're Friedkin ... who ended up making an entire, lesser-known movie about this lowly lab grunt. It's called Cruising, and it's about a killer hunting gay men in New York, only to be thwarted by Al Pacino going undercover as a leather daddy.
Lorimar Productions/United Artists/CBS Video
"It's Scarface, like you've never seen him before!"
Yes, Friedkin learned years after The Exorcist that Bateson super-killed people. In 1977, packages of dismembered body parts started washing up in New York from the Hudson. The killings, all of gay men, were never solved ... technically. You see, on that same year, Bateson was arrested after bragging to a reporter that he'd murdered a film critic for Variety. While awaiting trial, Bateson once again boasted that he liked killing, dismembering, and then tossing bodies into the Hudson River. The cops never charged him for that because, well, they already had the guy for something else, so why bother.
The Village Voice