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The 50 Most Disturbing Movies

44. The Exorcist (1973)

Director: William Friedkin

When The Exorcist hit theaters in 1973, it redefined the horror genre and revolutionized the way these movies blended legitimate scares will stomach-churning special effects. The movie tells the story of Father Damien Karras' (Jason Miller) attempts to drive a demonic spirit out of the body of a young girl named Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair).

The makeup used to show Blair’s transformation from young girl to full-fledged demon were so disturbing for audiences at the time that some theaters actually handed out “Exorcist Barf Bags” in case anyone’s stomach couldn’t quite handle the horror.

But it wasn’t just in the physical distortion of a young girl that made this movie so disturbing; there is also a lot of religious desecration throughout the movie that struck a chord with some of the more devout members of the public. We’re pretty sure most churchgoing folk weren’t too happy about that crucifix masturbation scene, but it was parts like that which added to the disturbing tour de force that made The Exorcist a landmark in horror cinema.

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