1. The Exorcist
Starting with this classic that everyone’s seen, the common story you may have heard is that the movie The Exorcist was based on a book by William Peter Blatty. However, the backstory of this one has gotten mixed and mashed up to the point that many people seem to think the book was a first-hand account. In truth, Blatty’s book by the same name was a novel, not an account of real events. Where the ‘true events’ come in is that Blatty based his 1971 novel on a series of stories he’d read in the newspaper while attending Georgetown University in the 1940s.
The original story that Blatty heard was about a boy named Roland Doe. Roland (real name Robert Manheim), an only child, had no playmates growing up and spent much of his time with his aunt who was a spiritualist. She even introduced him to Ouija boards. When the aunt died, a number of unexplained phenomena reportedly began to occur including strange noises and objects being moved around without explanation. When Roland was removed from the house and observed by a parapsychologist in another home, the same phenomena was reported to have occurred. It was then that the family sought out a Catholic priest and Roland underwent several exorcisms at Georgetown University Hospital.
During one the exorcisms, Roland was said to have broken out of his restraints and used a broken bedspring to cut the arm of one of the priests. In another instance, multiple priests observed objects levitating in the room around Roland and supposedly heard him speaking in a guttural voice and that the words “hell” and “evil” as well as other marks began to appear on Roland’s body. Roland is even said to have broken one of the priest’s noses.
Historians who looked at the case years later now tend to believe that Roland was actually just a little shit who tormented his family with pranks for attention and to get out of going to school. They also believed he carved the words and scratches into his own skin with his fingernails which the priests involved in the exorcisms reportedly never checked for skin or blood.
An entire documentary was created about Roland and the exorcisms. It can be seen here.