Happy Halloween!

My current favourite recently-learned spooky fact is that the infamous film The Exorcist - the one that originally induced audiences to faint, vomit and maybe even have heart attacks - is in fact based on a true story. It’s the story of Ronald Edwin Hunkeler, although his name wasn’t widely known until last year, after he had died the year before.

From the age of 14 it was reported that he had been possessed by something menacing. People around him heard strange noise, and things flew around the house. Red scratches appeared on his body, spelling out various words. He had violent outbursts and spoke Latin phrases in a strange voice. Walls shook and furniture slid. All of which you may have seen in the film’s recreation, albeit featuring a younger girl.

It’s not clear that the infamous head-spinning scene actually happened in Ronald’s case though. Which is shown below, but perhaps don’t click on it if you don’t like scary things or bad language.

In later life, Ronald became a NASA engineer. His work was used in the 1960s Apollo space missions and, more recently, for space shuttle materials. He apparently went out of his way to ensure people didn’t know of his exorcist related history, unfortunately going through his life always afraid of people figuring it out.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s now a matter of debate how true the true story was. The fact that The Exorcist is based on Ronald and what people around him reported is true. But whether the original events concerned were of paranormal origin or were in fact deliberate trickery done by the kid has been questioned at some length. But even if it was an act, it sounds like it was an unusually convincing and long-lasting one from a likely troubled child.