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howdy-does

Captain Howdy

"Captain Howdy"

In the novel and film "The Exorcist" the name "Captain Howdy" is what young Regan MacNeil uses to describe the demonic presence during the early stages of her possession. It is first thought by both her mother and the various doctors who treat her to be an imaginary friend. While showing her mother how to use a Ouija board she explains that she (Regan) makes the questions and he (Captain Howdy) does the answers. Later, under hypnosis, a psychiatrist asks Regan if the person inside of her is "Captain Howdy", to which she responds that she doesn't know. When he later directs his questions directly at the "person inside of Regan", she suddenly turns into the demon and attacks the doctor.

In the novel it is suggested that there may be a psychological factor in her use of that particular name, since her recently divorced father's name is Howard. It's also suggested through the various drawings that Regan makes that the demon Pazuzu has appeared to her in dreams. We learn that the demon inhabiting Regan actually has a name, Pazuzu and an actual cultural history. In Assyrian and Babylonian mythology the god Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind, and son of the god Hanbi. Pazuzu is often depicted as a combination of animal and human parts. He 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. He is often depicted with his right hand pointing upwards and his left hand downwards. In "The Exorcist" this is the demon that inhabits Regan. As the story unfolds we find out that Pazuzu had been confronted many years earlier by Father Merrin during an exorcism of a boy in Africa. And now in present day Merrin is called again to confront this demon in young Regan Macneil. Pazuzu is explored in more detail in some the sequels, Exorcist II: The Heretic and the alternate prequels Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist or Exorcist: The Beginning.

There are several scenes in which the viewer can see the face of a demon flashing quickly on the screen in The Exorcist. The easiest to spot, even with the naked eye, comes during Father Karras's dream sequence, right after the shot of a figure walking up a subway staircase. 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 Linda Blair's stunt double, Eileen Deitz. Deitz, who underwent makeup tests for the "possessed Regan", wore one of the alternate make-ups in her scenes as the demon.

"Captain Howdy" has evolved into an affectionate name that some fans often use to refer to the demon in "The Exorcist".

More information on Captain Howdy is in Pazuzu (The Exorcist)

Other Captain Howdys

Since The Exorcist the name Captain Howdy has become popular for use as a number of characters in different movies and even band names.

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