Goodnight Nurse: Jeff Zornow Talks Fright-Rags, The Exorcist 3 and the Art of a Good Scare!

Jeff Zornow Interview

I’ve always considered The Exorcist 3 to be a SERIOUSLY good horror movie. Each of us will have different opinions when it comes to what makes a certain movie better than others, but within the horror genre I am always impressed when something can genuinely unnerve me … genuinely scare me.

I’ve watched more horror movies than I care to remember over the years, I lost count a long time ago and have become desensitised to most of it, but The Exorcist 3 scared the crap out of me the first time I sat down to watch it and it STILL has the power to turn my stomach and twist my guts all these years later. It’s dark, ominous, harsh, and just relentlessly creepy. I’ll probably get lynched for saying this but I personally find it more unsettling than the original.

In recent years I’ve started to notice that my admiration for The Exorcist 3 is shared by many within the horror community but despite that it can still feel like a ‘forgotten’ film. I rarely see it on TV anymore, people don’t really talk about it … It just sort of lurks in the shadows, not truly loved, but not hated either.

I certainly never thought I would see some cool merchandise linked to the movie, but that all changed a couple of weeks ago when horror clothing kings Fright-Rags decided to send some love in the direction of The Exorcist 3 by revealing a seriously awesome set of T-shirt designs!

One piece of art in particular caught my eye because it featured THAT moment from the movie … A moment that I’m sure most of you are familiar with, so it doesn’t require a long-winded introduction or detailed explanation.

A nurse, a corridor, a freak under a white sheet, and an impossibly large pair of surgical shears … BAM, a scare-jump you will never forget.

The image was created by one of my favorite horror and monster artists working today, Jeff Zornow, and I was thrilled when Jeff agreed to be involved in a quick-fire Q&A about working on the image, why the scene it features remains SO effectively terrifying and more …

Jeff Zornow Exorcist 3 Art

Halloween Love: A vast percentage of your work over the years has been linked to the horror genre … What does horror mean to you and has it been a passion from a young age?

JZ: “Horror is a genre that was incredibly popular as I was growing up, so I did in fact get into it at an early age especially anything monster related. Horror is something I love very much. I’m most happy when I’m able to draw monsters eating people!”

Jeff Zornow Interview

HL: I contacted you because of your recent work for Fright-Rags featuring an iconic scene from the Exorcist 3, can you tell me what you think of the movie in general?

JZ: “I think it’s a great movie overall, George C. Scott is amazing in it and Brad Dourif is equally amazing. The movie is filled with plenty of freaky imagery throughout. The exorcism at the end does feel slightly tacked on but it’s not bad. I do put it up there with one of the better horror films in history.”

Exorcist 3 Nurse Death Scene

HL: Why do you think the nurse scene seems to have become such an effective scare moment in horror movie history?

JZ: “Because it was a well timed jump-scare that utilizes a scary limb cutting instrument established earlier in the film with a really freaky loud sudden noise and a basic human visual icon (ghost in sheet). And the fact that it is shot from a bit of a distance, and you don’t get a super-clear look at the actual scare. It is so well planned.”

Jeff Zornow Interview

HL: When you started work on the project did you personally have the option to choose what you wanted to draw, or is it a group decision?

JZ: “Like most FR shirts I do, the work flow is usually a mix of Ben and I. For this one I had the initial idea to do the EIII decapitation scene (because I hadn’t seen a shirt for it yet) and then Ben got the project started, once we discussed it we agreed just showing the shot ‘as is’ wasn’t interesting enough for an illustration on a shirt, so we both kept tweaking a sketch I made up from a worm’s eye view, which I liked because I wanted the giant shears to cover the face of the nurse. We mostly just kept tweaking the angle of the drawing itself. So essentially Ben and I worked on the idea together, back and forth teamwork.”

Jeff Zornow Interview

HL: Are there any specific horror movie moments that you would love to create for Fright-Rags in the future that haven’t come along yet?

JZ: “Good question! … The topic of movie choices for new shirt output gets trickier as the years progress because there are so many T-shirt companies out there pumping out original stuff. At FR I’ve been able to do most of my fav movies and pay my artistic tribute to many movies I love. I’d say that as far as stuff I still want to do, I’d point out that there are some rad Asian horror films that could use some FR treatment.”

HL: Any last words for your many fans and all the Halloween Love readers?

JZ: “Sure, check out the zombie apocalypse/Vietnam war horror comic I illustrate, ’68 from Image comics … And I also provide regular art for covers and fill-in interiors for the GODZILLA:RULERS OF EARTH comic book from IDW publishing”


A huge thank you to Jeff for taking some time to answer my questions. If you like the look of this T-shirt as much as I do then you know where to go to grab one!

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