The steep, narrow flight of 75 stone steps in the US capital’s Georgetown area are part of Hollywood legend -- in “The Exorcist,” a priest falls to his death in one of the film’s most memorable scenes.
Now, Washington’s so-called “Exorcist Steps” could soon achieve historic landmark status.
Andrew Huff, a self-proclaimed “student of the horror genre,” is a huge fan of “The Exorcist,” which was released in 1973, two years after the best-seller of the same name by William Peter Blatty.
In 2015, he organized a small ceremony attended by Blatty, a graduate of Georgetown University, and film director William Friedkin when a plaque noting the spooky staircase’s role in movie history was mounted.
Blatty wrote the screenplay for the film, which tells the tale of efforts to rid a young girl of the demons that possess her via an exorcism conducted by two priests.
Now, 45 years after the film’s release, Huff -- whose day job is in community relations at a local university -- is spearheading the effort to have the site classified as a landmark.
“It’s deserving,” Huff told AFP.
“When I have friends visiting, I prefer to bring them here rather than to the Capitol or the White House, especially at the moment. They have become a tourist attraction for the city.”
A community association has petitioned Washington’s historic preservation review board to designate the steps as a landmark -- in part to keep the construction of a new condo building from encroaching on them.
The steps were built in 1895, next to a brick trolley-car storage building known as the Car Barn.
In the famous scene on the steps, Father Damien Karras hurls himself from a window and falls to his death down the stairs as he becomes possessed by the spirits haunting the young Regan.
“The scene had to be shot three times,” explains Huff, who says he has seen the film about 100 times.
“Even if the steps were covered with half-an-inch of rubber, it was still a long way down for the stuntman.”
A decision from the DC historic preservation board is expected on November 15.