The exorcist murders
The true story of an eccentric financial genius that struggles to keep his sanity after accepting a gift from his Oscar-winning mother, who also voiced The Demon in the iconic horror film, The Exorcist.
The exorcist murders
Poster coming soon
Story behind the screenplay
Orson Wells dubbed Mercedes McCambridge the world's greatest living radio actress. She also won an Oscar for All the King’s Men in 1950. But the performance she's most remembered for is the voice of The Demon in William Friedkin’s horror classic.
McCambridge’s son, PhD financial analyst John Markle, murdered his wife and two young daughters after an elaborate embezzlement scheme involving McCambridge unravelled. Markle, in a scathing multi-page suicide letter, also blamed the Oscar-winning actress for being a cruel, absentee parent who never gave him the approval he yearned for.
*This dovetails perfectly with The Exorcist reboot being released in October and will surely generate considerable interest.
In December 2022, I interviewed a first responder to the crime scene on that early morning in November 1987. The Zoom session was recorded, and the former detective indicated that he'd be interested in being involved in a project based on the murders.
This article will serve as a lookbook/ primer on the shocking story. However, my script's interpretation of events, particularly what happened behind closed doors, is based on my IP, which references the murders, and was released several years ago.
Producer Comments –
Thank you for sharing this with me! The script gets to an interesting place in the second half where it nicely balances being both a biopic as well as a genre film. I don’t think I could get any traction with it; a bit too niche (we’re currently looking at high concept action films). A genre biopic is an interesting twist on the typical horror scripts I read and even if not for us, could potentially find some enthusiasm in the marketplace. The subjects of your scripts are always interesting in how they capture stories off the beaten path. I appreciate you sharing this with me!'
Coverage excerpts –
'The opening scene sequence is terrific. The tone is established, and the world is revealed. This is not going to be an ordinary ride into hell. The familiarity of the Demon’s voice and what it embodies reminds us of a time past and we’re ready to go on the wild ride… We are hooked…
The repeated motif of “your mother sucks cocks in HELL!” is another brilliant choice. This is such a provocative and outrageous line! How can anyone ignore it? And for this to be the first line of dialogue will certainly wake up anyone watching.
I admire how you have taken the Markle’s story and twisted it the way you have. As soon as I read the article and then the title, The Exorcist Murders, I had a feeling of what I was going to be experiencing as I read the screenplay. There is something about being possessed by an evil or dark entity that fascinates and scares us. There is a connection between “make believe” and “the mundane” that goes beyond what we know or intellectualize.'
THE EXORCIST MURDERS (set during the 1980’s) is the true story of JOHN MARKLE, PhD financial analyst and son of Oscar-winning actress and legendary radio performer, MERCEDES MCCAMBRIDGE. We pick up with John and his family having just moved into a gloomy Victorian on 1820 Main St. in the Governor’s Mansion District of Little Rock, AR.
John’s wife, CHRISTINA, actively volunteers, and his young daughters SUZANNE & AMY, are both avid dancers. Markle is a top Futures trader over at prominent JOHNSON AND CO. FINANCIAL SERVICES. Although Markle himself is decidedly quirky, often exhibiting bizarre mood swings, the family are by all accounts normal, productive members of the community.
Initially, John’s mother is living in California and wants to move to Little Rock to be closer to her granddaughters. McCambridge and Christina have a contentious relationship, so this move is put off and John has his mother on a waiting list for a unit at the Quapaw Towers luxury apartments. John, forever seeking his mother’s approval, is also after her to let him handle her portfolio, so he can make her rich and she can retire in style.
We then jump ahead a few years – Overall, John’s performance at Johnson & Co. has declined, but he is raking in the dough for his mother, who has since moved into Quapaw Towers and has allowed John to invest her money. As a reward for his financial prowess, McCambridge gives John TWO GIFTS. These presents are, ‘Hollywood history’, mementos from her involvement in The Exorcist. John is thrilled to finally have his mother’s approval, while Christina wants the infernal objects returned.
Given an ultimatum, John reluctantly throws the gifts away, but secretly retrieves them from the trash. Eerie things begin happening in the Markle home. And as John sneaks into the basement to smoke pot and ‘admire’ his trophies for a job well done, his financial machinations unravel, as he’s been screwing the JOHNSON BROTHERS on trades and crediting everything to his mother’s account.
John’s placed on leave while the extent of his embezzlement activities are investigated. During this period, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the CURSED OBJECTS and is infiltrated by the demonic forces attached to them. As John loses his grip on sanity, this stress is compounded when he’s terminated from Johnson & Co. and is ordered to pay 1 million in restitution or face jail. John seeks help from his mother but is told no, he must be a man and face the music, as she knew nothing about his financial crimes.
Finally sensing that her ‘gifts’ are the source of his troubles, John tries to get rid of them, but they KEEP COMING BACK. John is now bombarded with psychic daggers and is given COMMANDS. In the meantime, Mercedes has moved back to California while John struggles to keep his tenuous hold on reality. Will he recover from this nosedive into the abyss?