In most forms of media, a character is shown to have the ability to dislocate his bones in very bizarre places. The most popular way is turning your head 360 degrees before facing the front again. Can fall into either Squick
and/or Nightmare Fuel
for some people, since it is one way to freak out people.
for a compilation of this trope.
Often done as a Shout-Out
to the Trope Namer
, The Exorcist
Subtrope of Abnormal Limb Rotation Range
, Compare Body Horror
, Losing Your Head
Anime and Manga
- The Owl, a Daredevil villain, can rotate his neck 360 degrees like his namesake.
- The Trope Namer is the 1973 Horror film The Exorcist.
- Played for Laughs in Little Nicky when Nicky (son of Satan) performs this again to his buddies.
- In Beetlejuice, apparently this happens to the titular ghost at random.
- Done as a parody to The Exorcist by the magical cartoon physics baby in Son of the Mask, when his worn-out and nearly out of his mind father suggests he take him to a doctor, and then an exorcist.
- Death Becomes Her, one of a pair of Alpha Bitches, Madeline, (now made immortal by a magic potion) falls down the stairs and cracks her neck. Not only does she survive (or un-survive) the fall, she gets back up with her head twisted completely backwards, facing her backside. Although her head is reoriented to its proper position, it leaves her with a bone protrusion on her neck. The doctor exclaims it's a dislocated neck.
- Pops up naturally in the Exorcist parody Repossessed.
- In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the T-X's head does a 360 spin after the Terminator hits her full-on with a fire extinguisher. Her response is a Quizzical Tilt.
- Another Exorcist parody in Stay Tuned, in the exercise show called "The Exorcisist".
- In Doom: Knee-Deep in the Dead, the talking imp rotates its head around to face Fly as it lays dying.
- Invoked in Good Omens, when Aziraphale (an angel) has to possess Madame Tracy to talk to Shadwell.
Aziraphale: Now, I know what you're thinking, Sergeant Shadwell. You're thinking that any second now this head is going to go round and round, and I'm going to start vomiting pea soup. Well, I'm not. I'm not a demon.
- In the Small Wonder episode "My Robot Family", Vicki does this in response to the command "about face".
- In The X-Files episode "The Amazing Maleeni", the eponymous magician does this as part of his act. Mulder and Scully never do figure out how he did it.
- One early Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode has a giant praying mantis in human form. Early tip-off: She "does a full-on Exorcist twist" when she hears someone come up behind her.
- In a rare comedy example from Mystery Science Theater 3000: Tom Servo rotates his head 180 degrees in one episode.
- Done for humorous effect by Captain B. Zarr of The Party Zone during Happy Hour multiball.
- Baby Sinclair does this twice in Dinosaurs. The first time is in the episode, "Germ Warfare", and the second is in the episode, "Terrible Twos".
- Mimi in Super Paper Mario does this upon revealing her true form. However, instead of twisting her head around, she somehow spins her head on her neck, causing her head to turn upside down.
- Havik from Mortal Kombat has the ability to contort his entire body in odd and sickening ways. In fact, two of his specials allow him to regain health by doing so.
- The Brawl Doll, a creepy possessed doll in the aptly named Horror Manor in Wario World spins his head backwards while laughing in the boss introduction.
- The clown monster in Bewilder House can do this when you keep your eyes on him.
- Owls are famous for being able to turn their heads extremely far in either direction. Unlike many animals like humans, owls lack the special muscles in their eyes that would allow them to rotate or roll, leaving them fixed.
- Though despite popular belief, they cannot rotate their heads 360 degrees, for obvious anatomical reasons. Their approximate swivel rotation is about 270 degrees.
- While owls are particularly specialized for head turning, birds in general have much more flexible necks than most mammals due to having a greater number of neck vertebrae.
- Praying mantids are the only insects that can look over their shoulder. A praying mantis can turn its head more than 180 degrees and can see movement up to 60 feet
- There are people recorded to be capable of turning their heads 180 degrees, like this example http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHjRORiMl7E
- Very small primates native to south-east Asia, known to scientists as Tarsius, are capable of this. Since they look a bit like E.T., you probably don't want to chance upon them at night.
- Pink Amazon River Dolphins (also known as Botos) have unfused neck vertebrae and can turn their heads 180 degrees. This ability aids hunting when the water rises in wet season, as the forest gets partially submerged and they have to swim through the trees.
- Three-toed sloths have more neck vertebrae than typical mammals (nine as opposed to seven), allowing them to turn their heads in an arc of 270 degrees.