The Hollywood Reporter dropped the sad news that Marcel Vercoutere, the special effects innovator who made Linda Blair's head spin in the classic 1973 horror film THE EXORCIST, died at the age of 87 on April 13 at his home in Burbank from complications of dementia.
Vercoutere built the life-size robot that was used as a stand-in for Blair, who plays a young girl whose body is inhabited by a demon in the Warner Bros. film directed by William Friedkin. He used wires, pulleys and offstage supports to create the child's violently shaking bed and engineer her frightening levitation, and he constructed the bedroom set inside a giant refrigerated cocoon. Friedkin credits Vercoutere as the man who made THE EXORCIST as effective as it was, stating via email to the Los Angeles Times:
If I had to name one person behind the camera whose contributions meant the most to the film, it would be Marcel Vercoutere."
Vercoutere also did special effects for such films as SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! (1969), DELIVERANCE(1972) and NIGHT MOVES (1975).
The head spinning scene in THE EXORCIST is still one of the most frightening scenes in cinematic history