According to the book, "The Case for Reincarnation" by Joe Fisher, the screenplay for this movie was inspired by an actual incident in source novelist Frank De Felitta's life. Hearing expert ragtime piano coming from his family's music room, he was astonished to discover it was being produced by his six-year-old son, who had never had a music lesson. "My fingers are doing it by themselves, Daddy!" the boy said. "Isn't it wonderful?" The experience set him to contemplating the possibility of reincarnation. Website Wikipedia states that the film's source "...book ("Audrey Rose" (1975) by Frank De Felitta) was inspired by an incident in which De Felitta's young son began displaying unusual talents and interests, leading an occultist to suggest to De Felitta that the child might be remembering a previous life."
The film was often compared and likened to The Exorcist (1973), of which some public and critics were saying the film was a rip-off, inspired by, part of a cycle, influenced by, a copy of, similar to, of the same ilk or genre, or a knock-off. It has been alleged that Susan Swift was directed to look like, resemble, and shown in particular camera angles to signify to audiences, Linda Blair from The Exorcist (1973).
Frank De Felitta wrote a sequel to the novel called "For Love of Audrey Rose", which has never been filmed. It was published in 1982, when The Entity (1982), adapted from De Felitta's 1978 novel of the same name, debuted.
Robert Wise once said of this movie: "I don't think we're going to prove reincarnation in this picture, but I'm very open to the whole possibility of the supernatural, the paranormal, the possibility of dimensions out there."
Robert Wise has said of the improvisational technique utilized in this film in his autobiography "Robert Wise on His Films: From Editing Room to Director's Chair" (1995): "Mine is a prepared approach with ample room for improvising as we go along. We had a sequence in the bedroom between Marsha Mason and John Beck in which they get to a very high, angry pitch, and it wasn't right somehow, as written in the script. I suggested that at the end of the day's shooting, we get John and Marsha into the bedroom, and just let them improvise the scene to see what they could come up with. They got into a really tough argument, much better than the one we had. Frank De Felitta had a tape recorder, and he taped everything. Later, he went back to his office and re-wrote the entire scene, taking elements that the actors had come up with in the improvisation. That's one of the few times I've ever done that kind of thing, and it worked."
The movie ends with a quote from the Bhagavad-Gita, as with the novel. The picture's closing credits quotation epilogue states: "There is no end. For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does it ever cease to be. It is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval..." The Bhagavad-Gita
Debut cinema movie as a Producer of Writer Frank De Felitta. The film remains the only lead producing credit for De Felitta for a theatrical movie, though De Felitta was an Executive Producer on Z.P.G. (1972), for which he co-wrote the screenplay.
The title of the academic treatise, which analyzes this movie in depth, is "East Meets West: Representing the Possessed Child in Frank De Felitta's / Robert Wise's Audrey Rose (1977)". It was written by Adrian Schober and published in 2004 in the journal Literature/Film Quarterly (Volume 32, Issue 1, pp. 60-70).
Just as there were two personalities inhabiting the body of Ivy Templeton (Susan Swift), there were two personas named "Ivy" associated with the movie, the title character (Susan Swift), and Ivy Jones (Mary Lou Sides).