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The One Movie That Beats Out The Shining For Horror Fans

In the gloriously macabre annals of horror cinema, there are films famed for cinematic grotesqueries, and feared for their potentially crippling impacts on the hearts and psyches of viewers. But of the thousands of celebrated slashers, haunted house creepers, psychological thrillers, and creature-centric chillers out there, but a handful are deemed icons of the genre by the horror-loving masses. While that list is understandably quite exclusive, genre fans are always fine-tuning it with fresh additions and, of course, fevered attempts at ranking the icons in some agreeable-enough fashion.

Those ranking sessions tend to inspire fevered debates about which films are worthy of top spots, and which are better suited to stare up at their blood-spattered brethren. In the course of debate, genre titans are occasionally forced to face off for unholy cinematic superiority. And as Reddit-land has never met a debate it didn't like, that's exactly where two legit horror icons (each worthy of "all-time greatest" status in their own right) squared off in a reader poll for the ages.

One of the movies in question was none other than Stanley Kubrick's bone-chilling masterpiece The Shining. Its challenger was an equally iconic film full of goth-tinged demonic nightmares. The contest was every bit as tight as you might expect, but when the results were eventually made final, many were surprised at which film pushed The Shining down to second place.

The Exorcist is the unholy king of horror according to most Reddit fans

William Friedkin's head-spinning possession marvel, The Exorcist, eeked out a well-deserved win by a vote of 335 to 288. The results are difficult to argue. Friedkin's genre-legitimizing tale of tortured priests attempting to expel a malevolent demon from the body of a pre-teen girl remains as narratively and artistically vital to the horror genre today. Just as vital, some might claim, as when it left audiences fleeing movie theaters in terror nearly 50 years ago.

Still, one look at the comments section of that Reddit poll will prove fans remain divided in The Shining vs. The Exorcist debate. They also prove horror die-hards (even those who voted for The Shining) almost overwhelmingly agree that The Exorcist every bit as iconic. Indeed, that duplicity is apparent even in the first post, with NoRoperino giving The Exorcist the edge while acknowledging the icon status of both movies, "I think both are, but the Exorcist was just groundbreaking. People were genuinely scared." Snoo571901 was far more decisive, however, posting "The Exorcist and I don't think it's even close." Ditto for yuyng, who hailed Kubrick's film the true icon, "The shining 100%."

In a lengthy post, Sgarden91 took a deep dive into matters hailing The Shining a "genius film," while noting The Exorcist the more iconic of the pair purely for it's cultural impact, " The Exorcist was the first movie that had people really throwing up and passing out and leaving the theater." Meanwhile, user Fulanceanswer used their comment to throw some serious shade at The Shining for its less than impressive theatrical run, "I think more horror fans flocked to the Theater to see Friday the 13th in May 1980 rather than The Shining."

With all due respect to that slasher-classic, Friday the 13th may not be in quite the same league as The Shining. According to Reddit, at least, it's hard to argue any horror film other than The Exorcist actually is.