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The Exorcist (1973)
Let's be frank, by today's standards this movie's funny and anything but scary, especially with movies out there like "Audition," which has some of the most gruesome images ever put on film.
However, as far as films in general go, this movie is one of the best I think I've ever seen. One thing that makes it such a great movie is how daring and visually spectacular a movie it is for the time.
Religion was in heavy practice and offended many (this would continue into the 80's with the PMRC, especially with bands such as Venom and Slayer) and also notable is how people see and empathize with the mother and what she has to go through.
For the time, the movie was very real (this is especially notable when you consider the blood which is much more real than the blood in "The Godfather" which as released a year prior to this one) and so some people actually thought that what they were seeing was Satan on the big screen.
While by today's standards of "gruesome and terrifying horror movies" it may not hold up the best anymore, but it is still a scary part of the industry's history.