The Iconic Horror Movie That Inspired The Name Of Pantera's Vulgar Display Of Power

The mighty domain of metal music is adorned with all things devilish and debaucherous. The artwork is edgy, the song and album titles are often controversial, and the music is unforgivingly supercharged with wrath. Throughout the 1990's, Pantera chopped new territorial lines into the landscape of metal via the savage artillery of their fresh sound. With the melodic precision of Iron Maiden converged with Slayer's merciless thrash-induced brutality, the Texas-based headbangers distinguished themselves as one of the hardest hitters in the metal kingdom.

The success of their major label debut album "Cowboys from Hell" (1990) catapulted Pantera into a promising future of sold out shows and a devout fanbase. Two years later, "Vulgar Display of Power" hit record shelves and further cracked the sound barrier with militant tracks like "Walk" and "Far Beyond Driven" — songs that have become staples of the band's anthology (via Discogs). Pantera fans know the album cover well: A perfectly timed snapshot of a maliciously clenched fist smashing into the cheek of an unruly concert-goer. It truly is a "vulgar and powerful" sight to behold. However, those outside the realm of Pantera fans — or perhaps even some within it — may not know that the album title itself is an homage to an iconic horror film that has inspired a myriad of grisly nocturnal nightmares since its release in 1973. 

'The Exorcist' inspired Vulgar Display of Power

When "The Exorcist" hit screens in 1973, reports of moviegoers fleeing from theaters, sobbing uncontrollably, and fainting when they tried to brave a screening of it were by no means sparse (via Best Life Online). It's still reputed as one of the most unsettling and disturbing films ever made, which naturally makes it alluring to metal heads who share the same fondness for the macabre. 

Those familiar with the film might recall the particular instance in which Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller) first meets 12-year-old Regan MacNeil (Linda Blair) after she becomes possessed by a malevolent, sadistic demon who wishes to kill her and claim her soul. Contorted, bleeding, and covered in her own filth, Regan cordially requests that Karras remove the straps binding her wrists to the bed post in a chillingly composed, guttural voice that is clearly not her own. "If you're the Devil, why not make the straps disappear?" He asks. "That's much too vulgar a display of power, Karras," She responds (per Rotten Tomatoes).

Frontman Phil Anselmo loves horror films

Aside from being more or less a perfect title for a metal record, "Vulgar Display of Power" is indicative of frontman Phil Anselmo's deep love of horror movies. Though he once told The Current that picking a favorite would be impossible, "The Exorcist" is within the realm of those he most adores. After being asked about his thoughts on the film, Anselmo described it as "a great stylistic movie and you have to think that, for 1972, it was a very cutting edge f****** movie, very unforgiving. Most horror freaks have a special spot in their heart for it. It's a classic."

"Evil Dead" (1987), "Black Sabbath" (1963), "House with the Laughing Windows" (1976), and "House of the Devil" (2009) are some of his other favorites, he once told Blabbermouth's Full Metal Jackie in a 2013 interview. "I guess later on when you're going through your teens, I call it the 'gore phase,' where all you want to see is blood and guts, but I also love the movie with an edge; even a supernatural edge" Anselmo explained.