Even though horror movies are one of the biggest grossing genres of films and special effects technology has created some truly terrifying characters a relatively low budget film from the 70s remains the scariest movie of all time. The Exorcist, a film based on a novel by William Blatty, has been named the scariest film of all time for many years running. If you ask people what movie scared them the most 9 out of 10 will say The Exorcist.
The Exorcist film is not the only film to center on children touched by the demonic. In the 70s and 80s there was a slew of films that featured demonic children like Rosemary’s Baby and the Omen films. In the era before slasher films went mainstream supernatural films were a great way for horror fans to get their fear fix. Movie studios and producers know that tapping into people’s innate fear of the unknown and the paranormal is a guaranteed way to make money. The wild success of the Paranormal Activity films proves that nothing is scarier to movie audiences than the paranormal. But even though fans were terrified by the Paranormal Activity films The Exorcist is even scarier still.
The biggest reason that The Exorcist continues to terrify people is that it the book and film are based on a case of real possession. In the 1940s a child who was given the pseudonym Roland Doe to protect his identity was given an exorcism and was considered to be possessed by an extremely strong demon. The case files, witness accounts and documentation from the priests who performed the exorcism were supposedly the basis for the book and the film which recounted episodes which actually happened to the boy. By all accounts the exorcism was successful and the boy involved grew up to have a happy and unremarkable life. However the priests who fought the demons that possessed the boy had trouble for the rest of their lives and were deeply disturbed by the events they witnessed during the exorcism.
Another reason why The Exorcist film continues to scare and fascinate people is that the movie was said to be cursed. A long string of bad luck, dangerous encounters, and other problems seemed to haunt the cast and crew who made the film. There was a series of mysterious fires on the set of the film and several actors were injured in freak accidents on set. The director of the film repeatedly called in priests to bless the sets and even had a priest bless some of the exterior location shots that were used in the film.
Even though there have been many films that copied The Exorcist and used more modern special effects techniques for shock value no film has ever been able to take away The Exorcist’s title as the scariest film ever made. The re-release of The Exorcist with never before seen footage and effects is one of the highest selling DVDs of all time.