In this 1972 file photo, the Rev. Walter H. Halloran who was the last surviving Jesuit who participated in a 1949 exorcism that inspired the book and movie “The Exorcist.” Jesuit scholars on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, joined a discussion in St. Louis that recounted the supernatural incident that inspired the classic horror film. (AP Photo/The St. Louis Post Dispatch, File)
Bowdern was assisted by the Rev. Walter Halloran, who unlike his colleague spoke openly with Allen and expressed his skepticism about potential paranormal events before his death a decade ago.
“He talked more about the boy, and how much he suffered, and less about the rite,” Allen said. “Here was a scared, confused boy caught up in something he didn’t understand.
“He told me, ‘I simply don’t know,’ and that is where I leave it,” the author added. “I just don’t know.”
Allen zealously protects the anonymity of “Robbie,” despite others’ efforts to track him down to this day.
Gary Mackey, a 59-year-old accountant who left work early to attend the campus event, said he also is unsure whether “The Exorcist” was a work of fiction or instead a riveting real-life account of barely comprehensible forces.
He does know this: He cannot forget the movie that he saw with a buddy four decades ago. They drove 100 miles from their home in Louisville, Ky., to the nearest theater showing it across the state line in Cincinnati.
“I saw the movie when I was 19 years old and it scared me to death,” Mackey said. “I think it’s the scariest movie ever made.”
Blatty, who could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, said in a 2011 interview with The Huffington Post that was timed to the book’s 40th anniversary, that the “1949 case was the novel’s inspiration.” The book and film were set at Georgetown University rather than in the Midwest, and the possessed child became a girl instead of a boy.
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