How to do Regan Macneil's The Exorcist makeup

August 09, 2021

Can you believe it has been around 50 years since Linda Blair possessed audiences as Regan MacNeil in The Exorcist? The unseen enemy that grips her in the movie hits close to home especially now as Covid-19 makes its invisible, body-snatching presence felt everywhere. 

Now we all know an ancient Mesopotamian demon is the real enemy in The Exorcist, but Regan really made the Prince of Murderers a character all her own. Here's how you can take possession of Linda's iconic character for your next costume party. (Cue Mike Oldfield's equally iconic "Tubular Bells.")

How to do Regan's Exorcist makeup and hair

The power of Christ compels you Regan MacNeil's makeup before anything else. 

Blair's harrowing makeup for Regan was done by no other than the “Godfather of Makeup” himself, Dick Smith. This is the man who literally wrote the book on monster makeup and formulated fake blood with corn syrup. 

"I was faced with the problem of making this 12-year-old little girl, very pretty little girl with apple cheeks and a buttonhole nose, into a demon," recalled Smith in the documentary The Fear of God. Smith went through six different makeup treatments for Blair before he settled on one that would effectively show how the possessed Regan did so much self-harm. To that end, Smith applied plenty of fake lacerations and sores on Blair's face, as if she gashed it with a crucifix, and gave her swollen, cracked lips. He finished the look with an array of contact lens, from bright green ones to a pair that whited out her eyes. 

It's easy to go ahead and put on a Regan MacNeil mask but you can almost as easily recreate the lacerations with fake wound kits, including SFX latex, or temporary wound tattoos. Alternatively, you can create fake blood using blue liquid detergent and red food coloring

You're also going to need yellowing tooth paint to give off that semblance of nicotine-stained, diabolic chompers. If you want to get Regan's hair right, go for a shoulder-length brown wig and run a bit of gel through it for that disheveled, demonic look. 

Otherwise let these high priestesses of makeup deliver you unto evil for the night. This scary look generally calls for lots of white makeup and, using fingers, a smudging of dark eye shadow or eyeliner around the eyes. 

How to make The Exorcist costume

The Regan-Exorcist dress is as simple as it gets: a little girl's nightgown with white and blue print. The difference is that it's stained all over with the character's famous projectile vomit. 

But what did they use for vomit in The Exorcist? Movie buffs will instantly tell you what but to the uninitiated, the puke is nothing but a concoction of green pea soup and oatmeal porridge, spewed through a nozzle that Smith artfully hid with makeup. To make your nightgown more authentic-looking, just open a can of the soup and spill it on the dress.

Now for the footwear: The Devil may wear Prada, but Pazuzu prefers to go au naturel. Simply go barefoot for this number. 

Alas, these days it's no longer enough to nail the Regan MacNeil makeup: Get creative and learn how to make Exorcist bed costumes. You can create it with nothing but cardboard, used Styrofoam cups, tennis balls, and old sheets. For a performance straight from the heights of heaven to the depths of hell, you may also utilize a baby crib. 

It's hard to overstate the cultural impact of The Exorcist, let alone Blair's star turn as MacNeil. It was a box office and critical darling upon its release, the first horror film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. 

In fact, the term "cinematic neurosis" was coined because many moviegoers had visceral reactions to the movie. Horror flicks have come and gone since, but even in the internet era, Regan is still a terrifying sight to behold.

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