|The Exorcist character|
Eileen Dietz as Regan MacNeil possessed by Pazuzu
Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist
William Peter Blatty
Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist)
Mercedes McCambridge (I)
Karen Knapp (II)
Colleen Dewhurst (III)
Rupert Degas (IV)
Mary Beth Hurt ([V)
Pazuzu is a fictional character and the main antagonist in The Exorcist horror novels and film series created by William Peter Blatty. Blatty derived the character from Assyrian and Babylonian mythology where Pazuzu was considered the king of the demons of the wind, and son of the god Hanbi. In The Exorcist Pazuzu appears as a demon who possesses Regan MacNeil. The demon appears in both novels and all five Exorcist films. Wizard magazine listed it as the second greatest villain of all time in 2006.
Pazuzu is often depicted as a combination of animal and human parts with its right hand pointing upwards and its left hand downwards. It has the body of a man, the head of a lion or dog, eagle-like taloned feet, two pairs of wings, a scorpion's tail, and a serpentine penis.
Pazuzu first appeared in William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist in 1971. The novel is about a young girl, Regan MacNeil, possessed by a demon. The demon is later revealed to be Pazuzu, whose statue Father Lankester Merrin uncovered in northern Iraq. After Regan's mother worries about her daughter being possessed, Merrin and Karras arrive at her house and perform an exorcism on Regan and successfully force the demon out of Regan's body. In their struggle to free Regan from the thrall of Pazuzu, both priests perish.
Pazuzu returns in Legion, wanting to take revenge for being thrown out of Regan's body. He does this by driving the Gemini Killer's soul into Father Damien Karras's dead body. Although not directly identified as Pazuzu, the Gemini Killer refers to "others" who would see his work continue. In the end of the novel, the Gemini Killer leaves the body of Father Karras when Kinderman accepts that he is in fact the Gemini Killer, satisfied that his work has been recognized and his past avenged.
Two years after the novel was published, The Exorcist was released in theaters as a motion picture. The film was adapted by Blatty from his own novel. In the beginning of the film, Father Merrin seeks Pazuzu in Iraq, where he finds a ruined statue of the demon. The majority of the film deals with Regan's demonic possession by a being she initially refers to as Captain Howdy. The demon is ultimately exorcised out of Regan's body after Merrin dies of a heart attack, and Father Karras sacrifices himself by luring the demon into his body and hurling himself through a window and down a flight of stairs. References to the demon as Pazuzu are only accurate in the context of source materials and a retcon in the sequels that identify the demon as Pazuzu, but the original film strongly implies that the demon is Satan himself.
In Exorcist II: The Heretic, Pazuzu returns to haunt Regan, even though she moved out of Georgetown, the setting where The Exorcist took place. There are flashbacks of Merrin battling the demon in Regan, and also flashbacks of Merrin's exorcism of Pazuzu from a boy named Kokumo in Africa many years earlier. In the end of the film, Regan and Father Lamont return to Georgetown where she was possessed, and Pazuzu tempts Lamont by offering him unlimited power. After a struggle he declines and Regan banishes Pazuzu, appearing in the form of locusts.
The Exorcist III takes place 15 years after the original film. Lieutenant Kinderman, who was also in the original film, has been on a murder case about mysterious deaths done by an anonymous person. It is later found out that Satan (or Pazuzu claiming to be Satan) convinced the Gemini Killer, who died at the same time as Father Karras, to inhabit his body as punishment for saving Regan. However, as result of his suicide, his brain was severely damaged, which demons/spirits need when they possess a body. The Gemini Killer spent years stimulating his brain so he would be of use, and then began committing murders by possessing the bodies of the other inhabitants of the hospital where Karras had been staying. In the end of the movie after a turbulent exorcism is done, Karras regains control of the body and asks Kinderman to kill him, which he does by shooting him in the head, keeping him from being possessed again.
In Exorcist: The Beginning and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist, (two different prequels of The Exorcist) Pazuzu is shown in his first encounter with Father Merrin in Africa in the duel that "nearly kills Merrin," referenced in the very first movie. Although the plot of both of these versions center around Merrin's African exorcism many years earlier, they take a sharp departure from the original scenes in Exorcist II: The Heretic where Merrin exorcises a young boy named Kokumo on a mountaintop. No effort was made to keep the stories consistent beyond that central idea.
Concept and creation
William Peter Blatty's creation of Pazuzu and The Exorcist were based on a heaviliy-reported series of 1949 events in Maryland concerning the possession of 14-year-old known as "John Hoffman" (or sometimes "Roland Doe"). Blatty, who was a student at Georgetown University, read about the story in Washington, DC newspapers and created The Exorcist twenty years later.
Although Linda Blair played the child Regan, actress Eileen Dietz not only played Pazuzu's face but also portrayed Regan during the more intensely physical possession scenes. In an interview Dietz said of the role, "People often like to call me a stunt double but I wasn't a double and I wasn't a stunt girl and I wasn't all kinds of things they like to call me. I was a principal actress in the film... Photo doubles and stunt doubles do not get residuals, so it's a delineation between being a double and being a principal actor in the show. Because I didn't do extra work. Being a double is an extra. I didn't do extra work then; I don't do extra work now."
There are several scenes in which the viewer can see the face of a demon Pazuzu flashing quickly on the screen in The Exorcist. In his 'true form', Pazuzu resembles a rather heavy, gaunt-white face with dark rings around his dull red eyes and brown, crooked and rotting teeth. The demon mask used in the movie Onibaba (1964) inspired William Friedkin to use a similar design for the makeup in the shots. In each of the shots, the demon Pazuzu is played by actress Eileen Dietz. Dietz, who underwent makeup tests for the "possessed Regan", wore one of the alternate make-ups in her role as the demon.
In popular culture
Pazuzu has been featured in numerous spoofs/parodies. A notable example is Scary Movie 2, in which the scenes of the exorcism of Regan are spoofed in the prologue. The character was also spoofed in the film Repossessed; Linda Blair starred in the film and reprised her role as the demon. He also makes an appearance in the video for the Gorillaz track "Rock It." It has also appeared on many prank websites
The gargoyle owned byProfessor Farnsworth in the Futurama episode Teenage Mutant Leela's Hurdles is also named Pazuzu, a possible reference.
The death metal band Behemoth has a song called "Pazuzu" from their album, "The Apostasy", as a reference to the Pazuzu in The Exorcist and/or Babylonian mythology.
The video game series Ninja Gaiden, features Pazuzu  as one of the bosses.
Watch on Religion Wiki
- Warner Bros. copyright date; release date of 1974
- The Exorcist
- Interview with Eileen Dietz at www.pretty-scary.net
- Pazu Zu in the Japanese version, Paz Zuu in the English
- Pazuzu (The Exorcist) at the Internet Movie Database