Monday, November 11, 2013

1970s Horror

The ‘70s was simply a magical decade for horror. Subgenres were being explored and perfected, major studios were funding creative, well made horror films, and a number of important genre directors (John Carpenter, George Romero, etc.) were establishing their careers in the U.S. The ‘70s also brought a more diverse range of films than the ‘50s or ‘60s and more countries than ever were producing horror. Thus it is time for me to pay homage to what I believe is the most important decade of horror with 100 films that I think are either important, influential, interesting, or simply some of my favorite. Some things on the list (or left off of it) might surprise you and if so, I encourage you to make your own list or to remind me what I forgot.

As with all the film series I do, there are some rules. I’m not covering any Vincent Price films or animals attack movies, because I’ve already done extensive series on both. I’m also leaving out most British and Italian horror, because I’m doing them separately sometime soon. Plus I needed to keep the list to a manageable number. The films I’m reviewing will be in bold below and I’ve tried to organize them by subgenre and chronologically. Generally speaking, if a film on this list is part of a series, I’m going to review the whole series with the exceptions of ‘00s remakes and things of that nature, which of course means there will be way more than 100 films by the time I’m finished.

I thought I’d get the most predictable and popular entries out of the way first. Arguably the most important American horror film of the ‘70s is The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973), which made satanic horror mainstream and continues to be effectively scary 40 years later. This was followed by Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977), The Exorcist III (1990), Exorcist: The Beginning (2004), and Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist (2005).
Another film “based on a true story” is The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974), which helped usher in an era of ultra violent horror stripped bare of Gothic tropes or supernatural trappings, and imbued with a sense of realism. This was followed by the great Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Leatherface: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre III (1990), and other re-imaginings and remakes that I don’t care about.

The Omen (Richard Donner, 1976) is the second great satanic horror film of the ‘70s and concerns a politician’s strange little boy who may actually be the Antichrist, the son of the Devil. Because one wasn’t enough, this was followed by some increasingly awful sequels, such as Damien: Omen 2 (1978), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), and Omen IV: The Awakening (1991)
While the ‘80s had tons of films about the horrors of high school, Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976) helped kick off this subgenre. A shy teenager who is emotionally abused at home and picked on at school violently awakens her telekinetic powers after prom goes very, very badly. One of my least favorite ‘70s films, I figured it was time to give this a second chance. 
Though the ‘80s had a bunch of great sci-fi horror remakes, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978) was one of the first. This excellent film about paranoia and alien invasion in San Francisco is a remake of the 1956 film of the same name. Both were based on Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers (1955). 
Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978) was John Carpenter’s break out classic about a masked maniac who escapes from an institution and stalks teenagers on Halloween night. This was followed by numerous rip offs as well as some bizarre and awful sequels: Halloween II (1981), the glorious and unrelated Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Meyers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Meyers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Meyers (1995), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), and Halloween: Resurrection (2002). I’m ignoring Rob Zombie’s deplorable remakes.

The second film in George Romero’s seminal zombie trilogy, Dawn of the Dead (George Romero, 1978) concerns the spread of the zombie outbreak introduced in Night of the Living Dead. A small group of survivors go on the run and hide out in an abandoned mall. Though this was followed by Day of the Dead (1985), this is one of the few series I’m avoid covering in full. For now.
Though often seen as terrible, controversial, and/or a waste of time, I Spit on Your Grave (Meir Zarchi, 1978) is an important entry in the rape revenge subgenre and is thus worth a mention here. A woman is gang-raped several times and then gets brutal, if completely improbable revenge on her attackers. 

Perhaps the most beloved sci-fi horror film ever made, Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) concerns a space ship that responds to a distress call on its way back to Earth and encounters a strange planet with a devastating alien species. This was followed by Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992), and Alien Resurrection (1997). Fuck Alien vs Predator
The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg, 1979) is one of the few major ‘70s films about a haunted house. A newly married couple move into a house and experience a number of strange and increasingly terrifying events. This was followed by a number of increasingly absurd sequels: Amityville II: The Possession (1982), Amityville 3-D: The Demon (1983), Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes (1989), The Amityville Curse (1990), Amityville 1992: It’s About Time (1992), Amityville: A New Generation (1993), and Amityville Dollhouse: Evil Never Dies (1996). I’m ignoring the 2005 remake and its sequels. Amityville just won’t stop.

Part of the reason I love ‘70s horror cinema so much is that it often achieved a sense of anything goes, balls to the wall insanity that refused to be regulated by budget, talent, a regard for public taste, or a sense of decency. Here are a few films that really exemplify these values. 
In I Drink Your Blood (David E. Durston, 1970) a group of mean-spirited, satanic hippies (a rip off of the Manson family) terrorize a rural town and rape a girl. Her young brother gets revenge by feeding them meat pies infected with rabies. Chaos ensues. This was one of the first films to get an X-rating from the MPAA for violence rather than sex or nudity.
Though the Godfather of Gore, H.G. Lewis made a name for himself in the ‘60s, he closed out his career with two important B horror films in the early ‘70s. The Wizard of Gore (H.G. Lewis, 1970) concerns a stage magician, Montag the Magnificent, who is slaughtering his buxom assistants. His second, perhaps more famous film is The Gore Gore Girls (H. G. Lewis, 1972), where a reporter and a detective team up to investigates the brutal murders of a few strippers.

Blood Freak (Brad F. Grinter, 1972) is the only full length Thanksgiving horror in existence and must be seen to be believed. A Vietnam War vet becomes addicted to marijuana and agrees to eat turkey laced with some experimental chemicals. He turns into a rampaging, mutant turkey monster. 
Inspired by Wizard of Gore was the slightly later Blood Sucking Freaks (Joel M. Reed, 1976). A Grand Guignol style theater troupe has a secret that their audience is unaware of: they aren’t faking any of the murder or violence. When their leader, Sardu, kidnaps prominent people, the police are on his trail. 

‘70s horror is perhaps most popular for its generous output of occult and satanic themed horror. Though this subgenre was brought to the American public with Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby in 1968, Satan truly reigned across our screen in the ‘70s.
West German film Mark of the Devil (Michael Armstrong, Adrian Hoven, 1970) is more about power and corruption than the supernatural, but there is a distinct air of satanic panic and Inquisition anxiety in this film about witch hunting. It is particularly memorable for its graphic violence and unrelenting cruelty. 
In The Dunwich Horror (Daniel Haller, 1970), a man tries to summon up the Old Ones with the use of an evil book, the Necronomicon. Though there were a handful of Lovecraft adaptation in the ‘60s and many more in the ‘80s, this may be the only example of Lovecraftian horror in the ‘70s. 

Werewolves on Wheels (Michel Levesque, 1971) is one of the more neglected B-grade occult classics. A group of bikers encounter some Satan worshipping monks during their travels. When one of their members agrees to participate in a satanic sacrifice, things turn out poorly for all of them. 
Mephisto Waltz (Paul Wendkos, 1971) is another forgotten and wacky satanic horror movie. A group of Satan worshippers become involved in the life of an unsuccessful pianist. When his personality drastically changes, his wife becomes concerned, but it is already too late. 
ADDED: George Romero's Season of the Witch (1972), where a bored, unsatisfied housewife begins to experiment with witchcraft and sexual liaisons. 
Messiah of Evil (Willard Hyuck, Gloria Katz, 1973) is certainly one of the weirder films of the ‘70s. A young woman goes to a small California town to look for her artist father and comes across an undead cult. Eerie and surreal, this is a must see. 
Though not an outright horror film, Phantom of the Paradise (Brian De Palma, 1974) is a bizarre and wonderful musical retelling of one of the earliest horror tales, Faust, with a healthy dose of The Phantom of the Opera. A producer who has signed away his soul steals a musician’s songs and attempts to do away with him.

Satánico pandemonium (Gilberto Martinez Solares, 1975) is one of the first truly insane nunsploitation films. The Devil temps a sweet, innocent nun in a Mexican convent and she eventually gives over to temptation. All hell breaks loose at the convent, including murder, pedophilia, fire, plague, satan worshipping, and death. 
Ernest Borgnine stars in The Devil’s Rain (Robert Fuest, 1975) as the leader of a satanic cult that terrorizes a small western town in this low budget schlock fest. William Shatner disastrously faces off against him. One of several films supervised by Anton LaVey, who also had a bit part. 
Race With the Devil (Jack Starrett, 1975) attempted to cross two popular ‘70s subgenres: satanic horror and the road movie. Two couples vacationing in an RV accidentally witness a satanic ritual and must flee for their lives, but when they go to the police for help, their trouble has only just begun.
One of my favorite actors, Oliver Reed, stars in Burnt Offerings (Dan Curtis, 1976), another rare haunted house film. A small family rents an elaborate estate at a great bargain for their summer vacation, only to be spooked by a series of strange events. They soon learn that it may be haunted.
ADDED: Full Circle aka The Haunting of Julia (Richard Loncraine, 1977) is the first adaptation of a Ramsey Campbell novel and stars Mia Farrow as a woman suffering after the accidental death of her daughter. She moves into a new house and comes to believe that she is being haunted by a malevolent presence. 

Speaking of haunted buildings, in The Sentinel (Michael Winner, 1977) a young model hoping for some independence moves into a strange apartment building, only to discover that it is a gateway to Hell. Certainly bizarre for a mainstream occult horror film, there are some truly unsettling scenes and memorable visuals. 
One of the more ridiculous films of the ‘70s is Satan’s Cheerleaders (Greydon Clark, 1977). In this campy classic, stranded cheerleaders and their coach are taken captive by a town full of the most inept satanists ever captured on screen.
Alucarda (Juan López Moctezuma, 1977) is another Mexican nunsploitation film, albeit more insane than Satánico pandemonium. An orphaned girl is sent to a convent, where she befriends another lonely teen, Alucarda. Their close relationship takes a turn for the perverse and it seems that Alucarda may be the daughter of the Devil. 
Satan’s Blood (Carlos Puerto, Juan Piquer Simón, 1978) is an underrated Spanish horror film about a married couple who are tricked into visiting a house in the country by another couple who claim to be their friends. Soon they realize they’re trapped by Satan worshippers. Given an “S” certificate for graphic sexual content.
Directed by the undisputed master of schlock, The Manitou (William Girdler, 1978) sheds satanism for Native American mythology. A strange lump begins to grow on a woman’s back and she learns that it is a growing, 400 year old Native American shaman. An aging Tony Curtis plays a fortune teller/fraudulent psychic.

Vampire films were as popular as ever, but many of them had enhanced amounts of violence, gore, and nudity. And there was a massive quantity of lesbian vampires in the ‘70s, not that I’m complaining. 
Count Yorga, Vampire (Bob Kelljan, 1970) feels somewhat like an American version of a Hammer film. An aristocratic vampire moves to a town in California and terrorizes some of the residents there. This was followed by The Return of Count Yorga (1971)
Vampyros Lesbos (Jess Franco, 1971) is Jess Franco’s well known, if occasionally reviled film about a strange vampire countess (played by the absolutely stunning Soledad Miranda) who seduces women and drinks their blood. Full of plenty of early ‘70s atmosphere and music. 
Grave of the Vampire (John Hayes, 1972) is undoubtedly one of the most insane vampire films ever made. A woman is raped by a vampire and years later her half-human, half-vampire son must face off against the bloodthirsty son of a bitch that is his father.

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (Richard Blackburn, 1973) is one of the most underrated vampire films ever made. This obscure and original film concerns the young Lemora, who has returned to her isolated home town after news of her father’s illness to find a coven of vampires and witches intent on seducing her.
Neglected Spanish director José Larraz made Vampyres (José Larraz, 1974), a lovely, erotic British horror film about a lesbian vampire couple who lure men to their deaths.
ADDED: The Velvet Vampire (Stephanie Rothman, 1971) was producer Roger Corman's answer to Daughters of Darkness, but set in the U.S. desert rather than a stately Belgian hotel. 
Similar in tone and theme is Jean Rollin’s Lips of Blood (Jean Rollin, 1975). A man and four female vampires goes in search of a castle by the sea. Though Rollin became known for his obscure, erotic, and surreal films about female vampires, this is one of his most beautiful and underrated.
Famous for his zombie films, George Romero made a different kind of movie about the undead. In Martin (George Romero, 1976), Romero’s neglected classic, a disturbed young man believes he is a vampire and begins attacking women.
Another of the great remakes of the ‘70s and ‘80s is Nosferatu the Vampyre (Werner Herzog, 1979). This disturbing, atmospheric remake of one of the world’s first horror classics was made by Herzog, decidedly not a genre director, and his star, Klaus Kinski, one of the most insane and intense actors ever captured on the silver screen.

While this loose subgenre was ruled by the Italian giallo film in the ‘70s, there are a number of interesting non-Italian entries.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (John Hancock, 1971) concerns a young women who is released from an institution and moves to a farm house. A number of strange things occur and she fears she is either being haunted or going insane. 
The delightful, yet forgotten Wicked Wicked (Richard L. Bare, 1973) follows a masked killer murdering guests at a hotel. It’s up to a retired detective to stop him. This was shot in “Duo-vision,” which is either genius or incredibly annoying, depending on who you ask. 

ADDED: Images (Robert Altman, 1972) is a chilling, subtle tale about one woman's descent into madness while vacationing with her husband in the countryside.
ADDED: 3 Women (Robert Altman, 1977) is Altman's second look at female madness and follows three women who become develop complicated friendships in a desert town in California.

In the eerie Sisters (Brian De Palma, 1973) a model fears that her Siamese twin, separated at birth, is guilty of murdering her boyfriend. Her doctor tries to help her clean up the evidence, but a reporter is close on their trail.
ADDED: Silent Night, Bloody Night (Theodore Gershuny, 1974) is a creepy slasher predecessor about a number of murders that occur in an abandoned house in a small town. 
Somewhat similarly themed is Polanski’s The Tenant (Roman Polanski, 1976), part of his loose “Apartment trilogy” with Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion. Polanski stars in this film about a man who begins to go mad after he rents an apartment where the previous tenant committed suicide. 
Alice, Sweet Alice (Alfred Sole, 1976) is another forgotten gem that deserves to be seen. Alice is a troubled young girl who causes mischief and always wears a creepy Halloween mask. When her younger sister is murdered, Alice is suspected. More murders occur, but is Alice really responsible?
ADDED: The Witch Who Came from the Sea (Matt Cimber, 1976) is a surreal, art-house exploitation film abut a woman who begins to get revenge on all of mankind for the abuse she received at the hands of her father, a sea captain.
Another giallo-like thriller is Eyes of Laura Mars (Irvin Kershner, 1978), written by John Carpenter before he began directing horror films. Faye Dunaway plays a photographer who can suddenly see through the eyes of a serial killer and teams up with a detective to try to solve the case.
Probably the ‘70s horror film with the most memorable opening is When a Stranger Calls (Fred Walton, 1979). A teenage babysitter is terrified by a mysterious psychopath who keeps calling the house and asking her to check on the children. It turns out he is calling from within the house and she must flee for her life. He is sent to an asylum, but when he is released years later, he decides to pay her another visit... 

Once blaxploitation had emerged as an action/exploitation subgenre, it was only a matter of time before some blaxploitation horror films would be made and let me tell you, they are delightful.
Blacula (William Crain, 1972) is undoubtedly the most popular of these. This sassy ‘70s version of Dracula with a mostly black cast is part horror film and part spoof. This was followed by Scream, Blacula, Scream (1973) with the amazing Pam Grier.
The serious, stylish Ganja & Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973) is the complete inverse of Blacula. In this tragic and beautiful film, an archaeologist is stabbed with a cursed dagger and becomes a vampire. Unexpectedly, his lovely wife joins him.
William Girdler was at it again with Abby (William Girdler, 1974). This is hands down my favorite blaxploitation horror film and might be the best, considering how ridiculous you like your movies. A pious, innocent young woman becomes possessed by a Santerian sex deity and goes on what can only be described as a sexual rampage.
Loosely (and somewhat weirdly) picking up where Bond film Live and Let Die (1973) left off, Sugar Hill (Paul Maslansky, 1974) concerns a voodoo queen punishing a group of white gangsters by raising zombies against them. Baron Samedi, god of the dead, helps her.

There was a lot of great television horror being made during the period and though I don’t have the space to cover much of it, here are a few notable entries.
The Night Stalker (John Llewellyn Moxey, 1972) is my personal favorite. Darren McGavin plays a reporter who believes that a local serial killer is actually a vampire. This was followed by The Night Strangler (1973) and then turned into an excellent TV show that sadly only ran for one season but inspired later shows like The X-Files
Satan’s School for Girls (David Lowell Rich, 1973) is a surprisingly well made TV film about a sinister girls school. Girls are being murdered at the Salem Academy for Girls and a victim’s sister attends to get to the bottom of things.
Bad Ronald (Buzz Kulik, 1974) is a bizarre film about a bullied young boy who accidentally kills his sister. He creates a strange, menacing fantasy world when his mother makes him go into hiding in a walled off room in their home. Unfortunately his mother dies and new owners move into the house, unaware that Ronald is there.
Arguably the most famous TV horror film is Trilogy of Terror (Dan Curtis, 1975), a horror anthology film based on three Richard Matheson stories all starring Karen Black. A student hits on his teacher with unpredictable results, a woman uses a voodoo doll on her sister, and a psychotic Zuni fetish doll gets loose in a woman’s apartment.
ADDED: Wes Craven's Stranger in Our House (1978) features a heavily-permed Linda Blair facing off against her newly orphaned cousin who may be a malevolent witch.
Another well known entry is Salem’s Lot (Tobe Hooper, 1979), an adaptation of Steven King’s novel about vampires in New England. I think a lot of people forget that both Salem’s Lot and the later It (1990) were both made for television.

Canada was a particularly fertile ground for ‘70s horror and some of my favorite films are on this section of the list. I did spend some time growing up in Canada, so I guess it was only inevitable.
Director Bob Clark, better known for holiday classic The Christmas Story, began his career with horror films like the low budget Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (Bob Clark, 1971). A troupe of actors travel to a strange island and hold a seance for fun, which disastrously succeeds in raising the dead. 
Deathdream (Bob Clark, 1972) is one of the most underrated zombie films ever made and, in my opinion, is Clark’s masterpiece. A young man dies in combat in Vietnam and his parents wish he would return. But you should always be careful what you wish for...
Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974), Clark’s other masterpiece, was the first North American slasher film and is still one of the best. A killer preys upon a sorority during the holidays, first harassing them over the phone, but soon he begins picking them off one at a time. It still amazes me that Clark made this and A Christmas Story.

David Cronenberg is undisputedly the most famous Canadian horror director and his first film, Shivers (David Cronenberg, 1975) is absolutely nuts. The residents of an apartment building are beset by strange parasites that make them all go insane. Scream queen Barbara Steele has a small role.
Cronenberg also made an early, powerful example of body horror, Rabid (David Cronenberg, 1977). Due to complications after surgery, a woman develops a strange thirst for blood and begins to infect others.
In Cronenberg’s The Brood (David Cronenberg, 1979), a psychologist experiments with some new and potentially dangerous techniques, meanwhile mutant children attack and murder people in the neighborhood. Another film that stars the late, great Oliver Reed.
The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (Nicolas Gessner, 1976) is a forgotten and somewhat unexpected treasure. A young Jodie Foster plays a little girl who lives with her father in an isolated house. The neighbors become curious, but she will do anything, including committing murder, to protect their privacy.

There are a few rare examples of British horror on my list that are quite far afield from what major studios like Hammer and Amicus were producing. Of course a proper British horror series will come soon.
The Man Who Haunted Himself (Basil Dearden, 1970) is a psychological horror starring Roger Moore as a man who survives a fatal accident and comes to believe he has a sinister doppelgänger. I haven’t seen this, so I don’t really know if it is one of the top 100 horror films of the ‘70s, but I’ve been wanting to watch it for years. 
The Devils (Ken Russell, 1971) is not strictly a horror film, but Ken Russell’s stylish masterpiece is more disturbing than most genre films. Violent and sexual, this is about a priest (Oliver Reed, at it again) accused of blasphemy and a convent full of supposedly possessed nuns lead by a twisted Mother Superior (a young Vanessa Redgrave).

In the same vein as Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and What’s the Matter with Helen?, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (Curtis Harrington, 1972) is a demented adaptation of “Hansel and Gretel” set in the ‘20s.
Don’t Look Now (Nicholas Roeg, 1973) is a powerful film about a couple who spend some time in Italy after the devastating death of their young daughter, but her ghost may be trying to warn them about something.

This was a great decade for Spanish horror and the country made a number of my favorite horror films despite still being under Franco’s fascist rule. When he died in 1975, the country’s cinema got even more insane. 
La residencia (Narcisco Ibáñez Serrador, 1970) concerns a perverse girls’ school where the head mistress breeds discontent. They are isolated in the country and begin to fall prey to a murderer living among them.

Tombs of the Blind Dead (Amando de Ossorio, 1971) kicks off Amando de Ossorio’s memorable Blind Dead series about a group of satanic Knights Templar that return as blind zombies to wreak havoc on the world. This was followed by Return of the Blind Dead (1973), The Ghost Galleon (1974), and Night of the Seagulls (1975).
She Killed in Ecstasy (Jess Franco, 1971) is one of my favorite Jess Franco films. A doctor kills himself after he is ostracized for doing unconventional research. His young wife (again played by Franco's muse Soledad Miranda) gets bloody revenge on his colleagues while losing her grasp on reality. Other Franco films worth checking out are Vampyros Lesbos (1971), A Virgin Among the Living Dead (1973), and Nightmares Come at Night (1970). There are, of course, many, many more. 
The Blood Spattered Bride (Vicente Aranda, 1972) is one of many beautiful adaptations of Sheridan le Fanu’s tale of a lesbian vampire, “Carmilla.” A newly married couple have a honeymoon that they don’t quite expect.
In the neglected Cannibal Man (Eloy de la Iglesia, 1973), a butcher accidentally goes on a killing spree and gets rid of the bodies the only way he knows how - at the slaughterhouse. 

A Bell from Hell (Claudio Guerín, 1973) is one of my favorite films of all time. A possibly insane young man is released from an asylum and returns home for revenge. He throws a number of vicious, surreal practical jokes on his family members that will inevitably end in murder.
The Corruption of Chris Miller (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1973) is an effective Spanish take on the giallo film and concerns the unhealthy relationship between a bitter woman and her unstable stepdaughter.
In one of the greatest Spanish films ever made, Spirit of the Beehive (Victor Erice, 1973), two little girls in rural Spain see a traveling print of Frankenstein and the youngest believes the monster is loose in the countryside.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (Jorge Grau, 1974) is one of the most underrated zombie films of the ‘70s and concerns two people being framed for murder by the undead, who roam the countryside.
In the incredibly creepy Who Can Kill a Child? (Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, 1976), a married couple visit a small island, but they encounter murderous children who have begun to wipe out all the island’s adults.

Spain wasn’t the only European country to experiment with horror in the ‘70s and there are a number of interesting films from around Europe.
Dorian Gray (Massimo Dallamano, 1970) is an outrageous, stylish Italian-German-British sexploitation version of Wilde’s horror-tinged novel. While I can’t say it is the most faithful version of the novel, I think Wilde would have enjoyed the sexually liberated, explicit flavor of the film. 
Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kümel, 1971) is one of the most underrated vampire films of the ‘70s. In this lovely, erotic Belgian-French film, a lesbian vampire countess becomes interested in newlyweds at a hotel and attempts to seduce them, which has an unexpected and violent result. 
Another Belgian (and Italian) film is The Devil’s Nightmare (Jean Brismée, 1971), an eerie Gothic tale about a number of guests trapped in an old castle, possibly by one of Satan’s minions. 

Don’t Deliver Us From Evil (Joël Séria, 1971) is about two bored French schoolgirls who begin to experiment with satanism and hedonism. Not distinctly a horror film, it was certainly shocking upon its release and is worth revisiting. 
The wild and campy Bluebeard (Edward Dmytryk, 1972) concerns a very drunk Richard Burton as the titular murderous husband in one of the most fun and campiest films of the ‘70s. 
One of my favorite films is the strange and stylish Baba Yaga, Devil Witch (Corrado Farina, 1973), based on a comic by Guido Crepax. Valentina, a fashion photographer, has a run in with a strange, aristocratic woman who might be a witch. Valentia believes her camera is cursed and whenever she takes someone’s picture, it puts them in peril. 

Certainly the most insane and depraved adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to grace the screen is Flesh for Frankenstein (Paul Morrissey, 1973), produced by Andy Warhol and starring a young Udo Kier. 
This was followed by Blood for Dracula (Paul Morrissey, 1974), again produced by Warhol and starring Kier. Steeped in gore and black comedy, this French-Italian production is about a thirsty vampire (Kier) who can only refresh himself with virgin blood, but is having trouble finding a virgin.
A rare Italian film on my list is Night Train Murders (Aldo Lado, 1975) is a neglected B movie about two girls who board a cross-European train, but it is not at all the trip they expected. 
Another is the unique and surreal Lisa and the Devil (Mario Bava, 1973) about a young woman who gets lost on vacation and winds up in a very disturbing villa with a man who may be Satan and another man who is convinced she’s his dead fiancée. 
Another surreal Italian film is the underrated semi-giallo, The Perfume of the Lady in Black (Francesco Barilli, 1974), which concerns a woman haunted by the resurgence of her traumatic childhood. Is she going insane, or is it all a conspiracy?
Land of the Minotaur (Kostas Karagiannis, 1976) is a campy Greek horror film about tourists visiting ruins who are captured by a cult that worships the Minotaur and intends to sacrifice them. 

Though generally neglected by more mainstream cinema fans, there are a few Australian horror gems full of subtle horror and a building sense of dread and anxiety.
While it may not seem like horror at first, Wake in Fright (Ted Kotcheff, 1971) is bleak and utterly devastating. A disgruntled teacher is assigned to an isolated town in the Outback and his mind slowly begins to unravel as he adjusts to the landscape. 
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Peter Weir, 1975) is also not an outright horror movie, but it is one of the most haunting, atmospheric films of the ‘70s. While on a trip, a group of school girls suddenly goes missing, throwing an entire town into panic and hysteria. 
In the similarly subtle and bleak The Last Wave (Peter Weir, 1977), a lawyer prepares to defend some Aborigines accused of murder and learns of an impending prophecy about the apocalypse. 
Patrick (Richard Franklin, 1978) is one of the more overt, though bizarre horror efforts. A young man in coma has psychokinetic powers, which he uses to manipulate hospital workers. 

All of these movies have one thing in common: in some way or another, they are bat shit insane.
Possibly the most baffling film on this list is The Baby (Ted Post, 1973). A social worker takes on a new client and finds something completely unexpected. Seriously. What?
In Godmonster of the Indian Flats (Fredric Hobbs, 1973), someone thought it would be a great idea to make a movie about a monstrous, mutant sheep on a rampage in the West. I guess by the early ‘70s nearly every possible creature feature had been made, so why not turn to sheep? 
One of Larry Cohen’s many “What the hell is going on” films is It’s Alive (Larry Cohen, 1974), about a mutant baby that goes on a killing spree after birth. This was followed by It’s Alive 2: It Lives Again (1978) and It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive (1987)
God Told Me To (Larry Cohen, 1976) is one of Cohen's most powerful and bizarre films. A police detective begins investigating a string of random, disturbing homicides where the only motive is "God told me to."
Massacre at Central High (Rene Daalder, 1976) is a completely nuts films about high school bullying and one boy that will go to any lengths to get revenge.
Shock Waves (Ken Wiederhorn, 1977) concerns a shipwrecked boating party that stumbles across an island populated with aquatic Nazi zombies hungry for their flesh. Yes, I said aquatic Nazi zombies.

Tourist Trap (David Schmoeller, 1979) concerns a few young people who become stranded at a creepy, isolated museum. Little do they realize that the owner is insane and has telekinetic powers. Director Schmoeller made a number of insane films, including Puppet Master and Klaus Kinski vehicle Crawlspace
While this feels more like an ‘80s film to me, Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, 1979) is Don Coscarelli’s wacko masterpiece about a boy who encounters some strange goings on at a local cemetery, which seem to be orchestrated by an ominous figure known as the Tall Man. Followed by Phantasm II (1988), Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead (1994), and Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998).
Another film that marks the end of an era is The Driller Killer (Abel Ferrara, 1979). An artist runs into a streak of bad luck and has a mental breakdown. After which he begins murdering random people across New York with an electric drill. 

It seemed fitting to close out my list with Don’t Go in the House (Joseph Ellison, 1979). This infamous Video Nasty is maybe the most brutal film on this list. A man who was tortured by his mother as a child begins to get revenge on random women. 

I hope you watch along with me and again, feel free to contribute your own list.


  1. You have put together quite a remarkable list, and there are a few on it that I’ve now added to my own “to watch” list. I have put together a list of 100 of my own horror favorites from that decade, which was more difficult to narrow down than I expected. I decided to limit the number of gialli, which means that a few (such as A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN) that I might prefer to some on the list aren’t on here. I’m sure I’ll kick myself for omitting some favorites out of forgetfulness. Oh, and I'll be the jerk to mention that in addition to BLOOD FREAK, HOME SWEET HOME (1981) is another feature-length horror set around Thanksgiving.

    1. Let’s Scare Jessica To Death
    2. Halloween
    3. Black Christmas
    4. Deathdream
    5. Messiah Of Evil
    6. Alice, Sweet Alice
    7. Phantasm
    8. Last House On The Left
    9. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
    10. Lemora, A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural
    11. The Brood
    12. Martin
    13. Let Sleeping Corpses Lie
    14. Shock
    15. Ganja And Hess
    16. God Told Me To
    17. The Hills Have Eyes
    18. Daughters Of Darkness
    19. Suspiria
    20. Eaten Alive
    21. Eraserhead
    22. A Virgin Among The Living Dead
    23. Jack’s Wife
    24. Pick-Up
    25. Sisters
    26. Don’t Look Now
    27. 3 Women
    28. Don’t Torture A Duckling
    29. The Witch Who Came From The Sea
    30. Deep Red
    31. Shock
    32. Death Game
    33. Lisa And The Devil
    34. The Legend Of Boggy Creek
    35. Shivers
    36. Fascination
    37. The Premonition
    38. Tourist Trap
    39. Carrie
    40. Don’t Look In The Basement
    41. Alien
    42. The Town That Dreaded Sundown
    43. The Bird With The Crystal Plumage
    44. Silent Night, Bloody Night
    45. The Last House On Dead End Street
    46. The Wicker Man
    47. A Bell From Hell
    48. Lips Of Blood
    49. Who Can Kill A Child?
    50. Don’t Deliver Us From Evil
    51. Alucarda
    52. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
    53. Valerie And Her Week Of Wonders
    54. The Reincarnation Of Peter Proud
    55. Deranged
    56. Tombs Of The Blind Dead
    57. Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things
    58. The House With Laughing Windows
    59. The Exorcist
    60. Massacre At Central High
    61. Picnic At Hanging Rock
    62. Zombie
    63. Nosferatu The Vampyre
    64. Ruby
    65. Night Train Murders
    66. The Devils
    67. Bad Ronald
    68. Rituals
    69. The Stepford Wives
    70. The Tenant
    71. Lisa And The Devil
    72. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark
    73. Blue Sunshine
    74. Torso
    75. I Drink Your Blood
    76. The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
    77. Symptoms
    78. Images
    79. Shock Waves
    80. Female Vampire
    81. The Blood Spattered Bride
    82. Horror Rises From The Tomb
    83. Vampyres
    84. Jaws
    85. Screams Of A Winter Night
    86. Premonition
    87. Vampire Circus
    88. Perfume Of The Lady In Black
    89. Friday The 13th: The Orphan
    90. Pigs
    91. Squirm
    92. The Meateater
    93. The House With Laughing Windows
    94. Dawn Of The Dead
    95. Terror At Red Wolf Inn
    96. The Mafu Cage
    97. The Vampires Night Orgy
    98. Don’t Go In The House
    99. Panic
    100. Axe

  2. This is a great list too. As I said in the intro, I left out a lot of British and Italian horror, because I want to do those as separate series. I might add some of your list to mine, because - let's face facts - it's already over 100 at this point.

  3. Interesting list! See a tribute to 70 Horror Carrie:

  4. I like very much Full Circle and See no Evil, both w Mia Farrow

    1. I like FULL CIRCLE, but I've never see SEE NO EVIL. I'll have to check that one out. I'm definitely a fan of Richard Fleischer.

  5. i was looking for a film quite sometime now, its a about a man stranded in a town wherein he discovered satanic rituals and sacrifice. But when he tries to escape, Hes friend is a member too. Then the hunt for him begins,...I cant recall the title. Please help me guys. Thanks