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8 Reasons Why The Exorcist Is Still The Scariest Film Ever Made

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The Exorcist image
Warner Bros.

There is no doubt that it’s a scary film. But is it still terrifying all these years on? Here are eight reasons why The Exorcist is still the scariest film of all time.

Released in 1973, The Exorcist brought with it a lot of controversy. It was written for the big screen by William Peter Blatty, based on his book of the same name from 1971. It caused mass walkouts from theatres at the time, with many people passing out while watching it.

1. Linda Blair

Horror films that feature child actors are always scary. Linda Blair was thirteen years old when she was selected out of 600 applicants for the role. It’s been well documented that the role took a lot out of her. The scene where she was thrown around the bed was traumatic enough, let alone the make-up and dialogue. For a young teenager, she did an incredible acting job. She plays the innocent teenager with complete believability, as she does when she’s possessed. There’s no wonder she won various awards for her performance. Horror films are often made or broken on their actors performances. Linda Blair’s is both brilliant and terrifying.

2. Mercedes McCambridge

You may not be familiar with the name but Mercedes McCambridge’s voice is what makes the film so scary. The actress had a glittering film and radio career before she was cast in the Exorcist. In fact, she even won an Oscar for her performance in 1949’s All the Kings Men. She had to work a bit differently when approaching voicing the demon that possessed Regan. To get the terrifying voice she insisted on eating raw eggs, chain-smoking and drinking whiskey through the recording process. Director William Friedkin also had her tied to a chair to recreate that feeling of a demon being restrained in a body. McCambridge ended up delivering a vocal performance that still sounds terrifying to this day. That’s no mean feat.

3. The make-up

The image of Linda Blair covered in the demon make-up is synonymous with the film. What’s amazing is that it still looks genuinely scary all these years on. That can’t be said of all horror films of this vintage. The Exorcist pushed the boundaries of horror in film in many ways, but particularly in special effects helping it to be the scariest ever. Legendary make-up artist Dick Smith was the man in charge of the effects. Not only did he do Linda Blair’s demon make-up, but he was also in charge of the vomit scene and the iconic head spin. These are moments in the film that genuinely haven’t aged. I don’t think any amount of CGI could recreate that real horror. Smith should also get credit for making Max Von Sydow age thirty years without it being obvious. A real genius and trailblazer for special effects.

4. William Friedkin

The man responsible for directing the movie was William Friedkin. He already had the experience of making controversial films. 1971’s The French Connection is still talked about today as one of the greatest action thriller films. Although it had its critics because of the violence. Friedkin certainly put the cast on The Exorcist through the mill. His unconventional style did bring the best out of the actors. He fired off a shotgun on set loaded with blanks and slapped actors before rolling the cameras. All with the aim of getting real and emotive performances from them. He also employed the same documentary style of filmmaking that he used in The French Connection. It works because you feel like you’re watching a real event that you shouldn’t be watching. That element makes it even more creepy and unsettling.

5. The atmosphere

I’ve already mentioned the documentary style of filmmaking that makes this film so raw. Add into the mix the brilliant lighting and camera work, and it’s even more spooky. The pacing of the film is also done to perfection. It builds at just the right speed to keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s also a fair chunk into the film where Regan starts getting possessed, so you have a good wedge of tension building first. The musical score throughout the film is also haunting. Friedkin actually used modern classical compositions for the scene breaks, and they work seamlessly. The direction, cinematography and music all combine to create an uneasy atmosphere.

6. The final exorcism

It all builds to this. All the tension and all the scares build to the final exorcism. Again, credit goes to Friedkin for creating a haunting atmosphere in the bedroom. All the actors do an amazing job of pulling off a genuinely scary exorcism. The crew refrigerated the room so you can see everyone’s breath, including the moment when Regan’s head spins around. It’s all about the small details. When Regan levitates from the bed, it’s all real. No CGI, but clever mechanicals. The look on the actors faces is real terror, showing that this scene was executed to perfection.

7. Pushing boundaries

Remember that this came out in 1973. It was a different time with different views on what was acceptable. The Exorcist took every boundary and tore it to shreds. The lines that came out of possessed Regan’s mouth are shocking today, let alone in 1973. Not to mention the crucifix and urinating scenes. As was mentioned earlier, techniques were actually invented and pioneered to make this film unlike anything else before it.

8. The legacy

It’s often quoted as the greatest film ever made, and it’s hard to argue with that. The Exorcist is certainly the scariest film. The way they devised effects, combined with the cinematography and direction, set the benchmark. It’s interesting that all the sequels were critical failures, showing that the original can’t be beaten. Critics all over the world still quote it as their favourite movie, although don’t call it a horror. Writer William Peter Blatty hates the term, preferring psychological thriller. It certainly sits in that camp too. People may have fainted and thrown up at the initial release, but it still holds up today. Nothing comes close to recreating that terrifying realism that you feel whilst watching it. The imagery will stay with you forever, as will the dialogue.

Just don’t watch it alone!


That was eight reasons why The Exorcist Is still the scariest film ever made. Do you agree? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.


Read about what went wrong with A Nightmare on Elm Street HERE.

Read IMDB information on The Exorcist HERE.

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9 Bands You Forgot Played Themselves In Movies

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Wayne's World image
Paramount Pictures

There are more bands than you think that played themselves on the big screen. Here are nine bands you might’ve forgotten appeared in movies.

1. Alice Cooper – Wayne’s World (1992)

Being a teenager in the nineties was great for many reasons. Two of those being the release of the Wayne’s World movies. The genius that is Mike Myers created one of the best music-based films of all time. Plus, he convinced one of the greatest rock musicians of all time to be in it. If you’re not a geek like me, you may have forgotten that Alice Cooper was featured in the film. It had the iconic scene of Wayne and Garth meeting, Alice, backstage on bent knees. We’re not worthy, indeed. Alice himself pulls off the diva Rockstar brilliantly, even though he’s a genuine, down-to-earth guy who plays a lot of golf.

2. Primus – Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991)

Let’s try and erase the recent Bill & Ted movie from our memory and head back to 1991 for their bogus journey. They come from the future to kill the non-robot versions of themselves and ruin their performance at a Battle of the Bands competition. What’s cool is the band who are playing before them. Californian alt-metal kings Primus. Although the clip is only short, they play themselves and sound as you would expect. Epic.

3. Fall Out Boy – Sex Drive (2008)

You’d be forgiven for forgetting about this one. The teen sex comedy from 2008 is forgettable and won’t really appeal to anyone apart from its teen target audience. If you can sit through all the cringe-inducing moments, you will spot pop-rockers Fall Out Boy. They are performing in a barn in front of some drunk Amish teenagers. There’s a reason for that, but I won’t bore you with it here. What is good, is the soundtrack of the film. As well as Fall Out Boy, it features Airbourne, AC/DC and weirdly, Kenny Loggins.

4. Twisted Sister – Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Paul Reuben’s character Pee Wee Herman made his big-screen outing in 1985. The children’s show star had a scene where he is being chased through a studio parking lot. Unbeknown to him, glam rockers Twisted Sister are recording a music video on a car. Lead singer Dee Snider is always up for a laugh, so it’s no surprise they’re featured. The clip is brilliant. Pee Wee’s prop-laden bike is just about to crash into Twisted Sister and the look on Dee’s face is genius. Go check out the clip.

5. David Bowie – Zoolander (2001)

Who can forget the brilliant Zoolander? Starring Ben Stiller as the dippy model, it’s one of the funniest comedies ever made. One of the best scenes of the film is the walk-off. This involved Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson’s characters doing a catwalk-off. Of sorts. Can you remember who refereed it? The legend himself, David Bowie. It’s not the first time Bowie was in a movie – remember Labyrinth? But this time, he plays himself. And does it with all the cool swagger you would expect.

6. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – Clueless (1995)

I can’t say that I was a massive fan of this teen comedy at the time. The plot revolves around Alicia Silverstone’s character giving her friend a makeover. The premise doesn’t sound like it lends itself to a cool band cameo. You’d be wrong, though. There’s a scene where the lead characters go watch a gig. The band that are playing are The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. The Boston ska-punk legends are only on stage for a moment, but it’s a slick clip. It certainly brings the film up a level on the cool stakes.

7. Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy (2010)

This sequel to the original sci-fi classic is a cracking movie. The visuals and effects are stunning, as is the atmosphere of the film. The music to the film is also rather special. A futuristic and dystopian movie could only have one act doing the score, and that’s Daft Punk. It works a treat. The music is intertwined into the movie and becomes a part of it. The delicious electronica is the perfect complement to the visuals. The French electronic masters also have a cameo at the end of the movie. They’re spinning the decks in a blink-and-you-miss-it scene.

8. Aerosmith – Wayne’s World (1993)

We’ve already had an appearance from the first film further up our list, and the second doesn’t disappoint either. The plot revolves around Wayne and Garth putting on their own music festival. Book them and they will come, is the advice given. And they certainly did. The headline band for the festival were none other than Aerosmith themselves. They do a sterling effort on stage as performers. And Steven Tyler also shows that he can handle his own on the acting front too.

9. Reel Big Fish – BASEketball (1998)

Trey Parker and Matt Stone star in this bizarre and hilarious sports comedy. Written by the king of spoof David Zucker, it’s become a cult classic. The soundtrack heavily features ska-punkers Reel Big Fish. They do a brilliant rendition of A-HA’s Take on Me, which they also perform in the movie. The band are the entertainment at the stadium where Parker and Stone are competing. You can tell by the footage that the band are clearly enjoying themselves. They add a touch more fun to an already hugely funny film.


That’s our list of nine bands who played themselves in movies. Did we miss any of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.


Check out our list of actors in bands HERE.

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