Top 10 Horror Films Of The 1970s
In focusing on the Networks, Chinatowns and Raging Bulls of the 70s, it’s easy to overlook another great aspect of 70’s filmmaking: the horror genre. The decade is frequently cited as one of the best in cinematic history. That doesn’t just apply to prestigious dramas like The Godfather. The seventies were also one of the best decades for horror. The films listed here are proof of that.
Top 10 Horror Films Of The 1970s
10: Last House On The Left
Horror auteur Wes Craven made his debut with this 1972 cult classic. Based very loosely on Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, it tells the story of two young suburban teenage girls who go into the city for a concert. Attempting to score some weed, they end up getting kidnapped, tortured and killed by a group of sadistic killers. These killers later end up at the home of the parents of one of the girls and bloody revenge ensues. Like several of the other films on this list, this one was later remade. As is the case with all of the ones on here, stick with the original.
Brian De Palma had been knocking around Hollywood for several years before he adapted Stephen King’s breakthrough novel to the big screen. This film became his cinematic breakthrough and would introduce the world to John Travolta.
For anyone who ever got picked on in high school, it’s easy to sympathize with Carrie White and be simultaneously horrified and understanding as she enacts a bloody revenge on her classmates. While parts of it may seem more disturbing post Columbine, on the whole this one is still one of De Palma’s better efforts and one of the better Stephen King adaptations.
8: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
When i finally got around to seeing Tobe Hooper’s 1974 cult film I was surprised by how little gore there was in it. The 2003 remake was a pointless gory mess. This one is actually quite terrifying and very little actual blood is in it. Definitely not for everyone. But if you’re looking to be scared in ways that have nothing to do with the supernatural, this is close to unbeatable.
7: The Exorcist
This one might seem a little low on the list. But truthfully aspects of it have not aged that well. It still has the ability to scare. But in some ways it’s more of its time than others on this list.
6: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers
Phillip Kaufman’s 1978 version is one remake that stands with if not surpasses the original. This is one case where the tension is ably underplayed and this makes it even scarier.
Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake of FW Murnau’s classic is another example of a film remake that stands with the original and in some ways surpasses it. Unlike John Badham’s kitschy but entertaining Dracula film from the same year, this one is legitimately scary with a certain tone of melancholy.
Ohhhh that music.
The film that put Steven Spielberg on the map, Jaws straddles the line between adventure and horror yet still manages to be truly terrifying. It was the movie that set the stage for the rise of the blockbuster, yet it had what many subsequent blockbusters lack: characters one can care about. Even with the mediocre to awful sequels, Jaws still holds up.
Speaking of scary music, it doesn’t get much more frightening than the familiar theme from Halloween. John Carpenter’s breakthrough film kicked in the door for the slasher film. But unlike many of the gore bore ones that emerged in its wake, his film was legitimately scary and is still terrifying today. There’s also very little gore as well. For those who are new to Halloween, their best bet is to enjoy it and pretend the sequels and remakes never happened.
“In Space No One Can Hear You Scream”
With this 1979 film, Ridley Scott claimed the title of maker of the scariest sci-fi movie ever. There’s not much else to say about Alien at this point.
1: Dawn Of The Dead
In 1968, George A Romero re-invented horror with Night Of The Living Dead. 10 years later, he set the stage for modern horror with Dawn Of The Dead.
Picking up some time after the events of Night, Dawn follows four survivors of the zombie apocalypse as they seek shelter in a shopping mall. From there the movie works as part scary horror film, part gore fest, part dark comedy and part satirical social commentary. The film is still effective today (ignore the 2004 remake) and opened the door for the likes of 28 Days Later and Shaun Of The Dead. All of this makes it the top horror film of the 70s (as well as my personal favorite of all-time).
Posted on April 23, 2015, in 1970s, Movies, Top Ten and tagged 1970s, Alien, Body Snatchers, Carrie, Dawn of the Dead, Exorcist, Halloween, Horror Movies, jaws, Nosferatu, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.