United States Army Captain Nik Guran was just settling down to enjoy the 1973 horror classic “The Exorcist” on his portable DVD player sometime in December, when he realized that he recognized the ruins he was watching in the opening scene. Guran, who was on-duty with the 2-320 Field Artillery Regiment stationed in Hatra, Iraq, suddenly realized why they looked so very familiar.
He was sitting right in front of them.
It was then that he had an idea, a Knight Ridder wire article said.
His brainstorm was what recently prompted the U.S. Army to build a theme park on the site of the ancient temple. So far officers have slapped down a parking lot, installed floodlights and rebuilt a hotel on-location, all of which help to transform the dilapidated ruins into the new, film-themed park, “The Exorcist Experience.”
“Once it’s up and running again as a visitors’ spot, this place will be a real money pot,” Guran said in an article published in the Gulf Times. “You should see it at night-we’ve put in floodlights, and it looks really beautiful.”
Backed by the Pentagon and paid for by the Army’s Commanders Emergency Response Program, the park will be turned over to the Iraqis once it is operating.
The project has received even further support from the director of “The Exorcist,” William Friedkin. After having been sent the article about Guran’s experience and the park, Friedkin volunteered to participate as one of the project’s private contributors.
Friedkin, who explained that he has “traveled all over the world,” yet “never felt closer to a people” than he did to the Iraqis, hopes that the park will attract visitors to region.
“Historically, it’s the most astounding place I’ve ever seen,” he said. “This site is an archaeological dreamscape of pre-Christian, Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian treasure in a country that is the cradle of civilization.”