Buzz Battle: What Is the Scariest Movie Ever?

We're almost at the end of our long battle to determine the Scariest Movie of All Time. The two movies left standing are definitely among the classics of the horror genre: The Exorcist and The Shining. We've heard some pretty heavy arguments for each side, (particularly from my girl Fab, a horror aficionado who is on team Shining all the way) — and even the Buzz editors stand as a team divided. In today's Buzz battle, we'll give you our arguments on why each movie deserves the ultimate title.


Editor S will support The Shining while Editor B will make a case for The Exorcist. Don't forget to make your own pick after reading our arguments!

  • Editor S: As someone's who's long been a chicken about watching scary movies, I tend to get freaked out by a horror flick, and then eventually get over it. I have never gotten over The Shining. It's scary because it's more disturbing than anything; it's not a supernatural story like The Exorcist that you can choose not to believe in; cabin fever could realistically happen to someone — someone you know.
  • Editor B rebuttal: I will admit that I do think The Shining is terrifying, but it didn't haunt me the way The Exorcist does. That face? That voice? The imagery of a girl crabwalking backwards down the stairs is imprinted in my brain! You can't unsee that kinda stuff, though I wish I could. And cabin fever may be real, but The Exorcist left me believing that maybe possession is real too.
  • To see the rest of the arguments, just read more.

  • Editor S: The Shining has just about every horrific horror film element you can think of: gore, psychological disintegration, cabin fever, possession; but none of them define the movie. It's such a complex, well done film with great acting and directing. While there are a few shocks, some of the scariest moments of the movie are the quietest, like when you gaze down an empty hall, see Jack at his desk, working, or discover what's been typed on Jack's typewriter over and over again with his wife. Because the terror is so simmering and pervasive in the movie, there's no time you can stop stressing out, no calm scenes in between the madness.
  • Editor B rebuttal: The Exorcist has all the elements that make horror films fun and terrifying at the same time. Monstrous images? Check. Creepy child? Check. Excessive amounts of bodily fluids (hello, green bile)? Check. Not to mention the over-the-top campiness, suspenseful moments, and perhaps the scariest theme music of all time. Oh, and levitation. Talk about being stressed out — just when you think there's a safe moment, a vision of the devil flashes across the scene, trying to brainwash us all.
  • Editor S closing argument: With most scary movies, you can become desensitized to a gory murder scene, tell yourself it's just a movie, but that doesn't work with The Shining. It stays with you more; even as great an actor as Jack Nicholson is, I'll never not see him wielding an axe at his terrified wife. And I'm also irrationally scared of empty hotels.
  • Editor B: The Exorcist is the kind of movie that you can watch at 10:30 in the morning, surrounded by friends and family, and still be scared to your core. (Ever had a daymare? This is the fast track to get you there). Jack Nicholson went on to find fame with other films, but nobody could ever look at Linda Blair again without envisioning her head turning all the way around.

So, which movie has your vote?

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