Luis Buñuel has publicly stated that he considers the film a failure and that if he shot it later in Paris, he would have gone more extreme with it (cannibalism).
Luis Buñuel has claimed the film contains over twenty pieces of repetition in it. The film actually contains 27 instances of repetition.
Was banned in Russia because the idea of people not being allowed to "leave a party" was considered offensive and anti-government.
The film's cinematographer, Gabriel Figueroa, frantically approached director Luis Buñuel once he had seen the final cut of the film with concerns that there were several instances of repetition, something he was sure was an editorial mistake. Buñuel assured him that the repetition was a creative choice and reminded him that he edited his own films. The director recalled that Figueroa remained skeptical that the repetition was purposeful and not an editing mistake even after his explanation.
The title was taken from a friend of Luis Buñuel, José Bergamín, who was writing a play with that title but never finished it. When Buñuel wanted to title his film, he asked for the rights of the title from his friend, but he answered that there was no trouble, because it was taken from the Bible, the Book of Revelation.
Luis Buñuel expressed frustration in regards to the film's low budget and the lack of amenities available on set in Mexico. As an example of these hardships, Buñuel recalled that the film operated on such an austere budget that he could not even afford to purchase fine table napkins for the dinner party scenes, nor could such napkins be easily obtained in Mexico at the time. He was only able to procure one such cloth napkin for a close-up shot of the dinner table when the film's makeup artist brought one from her home.
The scene where a bear and two sheep appear during the dinner party was based on a real incident at a dinner party that Luis Buñuel once attended in New York.
In his autobiography Luis Buñuel claims he was asked by Warner Brothers to work on a story that eventually was filmed as The Beast with Five Fingers (1946). "The Exterminating Angel" contains many of the elements of the earlier film including the large mansion, piano recital, and stabbing of a disembodied hand.
Many of the scenes were largely improvised, notably the scene in which a sheep is blindfolded before it is slaughtered.
Out of all the films in Luis Buñuel's Mexican/Spanish film period, this is the only film he had complete creative control over.
The Movie script was originally titled "The Castaways of Providence Street" ("Los Náufragos de la Calle Providencia).
Even though you never see them open in the movie, Luis Buñuel insisted that the closets were full of clothes during production.
According to Luis Buñuel the title came from the Bible but it was also a reference to both a Spanish cult, the apostolics of 1828, and a group of Mormons.
An early working title of the film was "The Castaways of Providence Street". Luis Buñuel took the title "El ángel exterminador" from his friend José Bergamín, the Spanish poet, who had mentioned it the year before for a play he wanted to write. Buñuel told Bergamin, "If I saw 'The Exterminating Angel' on a marquee, I'd go see it on the spot."
In the church scene - the first scene of the movie to be shot - Rita Macedo appears as "Lucía de Nobile". She was not able to complete the film due to her pregnancy.
An opera based on this film, with music by Thomas Adès and a libretto by Tom Cairns, premiered at the 2016 Salzburg Festival in Austria. It opened in London at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in April 2017, and was subsequently produced in October 2017 at New York's Metropolitan Opera. The production made Metropolitan Opera history by requiring one of its stars, soprano Audrey Luna, to sing the highest note ever performed at the Met: an A above high C.
Ranked number 67 non-English-speaking film in the critics' poll conducted by the BBC in 2018.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.