30 of the most controversial films of all time

These movies have taboo storylines, graphic sex scenes, and gruesome violence

The Exorcist (1973)

30 of the most controversial films of all time 15

Based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel of the same name, The Exorcist follows the demonic possession of 12-year-old Regan (Linda Blair) and her mother’s (Ellen Burstyn) attempt to rescue her through an exorcism conducted by two Roman Catholic priests (Jason Miller and Max von Sydow).

Though a box-office hit, The Exorcist made headlines during its original theatrical run because some moviegoers had adverse physical reactions, usually fainting or vomiting, to scenes in which one of the protagonists undergoes a realistic cerebral angiography and violently masturbates with a crucifix. There were also reports of heart attacks and miscarriages during screenings of the film due to its horrifying and sometimes revolting imagery.

The Exorcist was nominated in 10 categories at the 46th Academy Awards, ultimately winning Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.