Moviegeek5: 1970s Horror
Arguably, every decade has brought excellent movies in the horror genre, but most fans would agree that the 1970s has brought a great amount of amazing horror movies. Following the optimism of the 1960s with sexual revolution, the moon landing, and cultural upheaval, the 1970s took a turn downhill with oil crisis, Nixon, and the Vietnam War. A development evident in a movie genre that showcased the fear of the society on screen and led to the horror genre thriving. The decade saw horror movies of various subgenres (the slasher movie, the killer animal movie, sci-fi horror et.) and the counterculture of the 1960s led to the youth overrunning the genre. But some of the most memorable and best horror movies of the decade are those with an occult theme. After the success of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) several movies dealing with demonic forces appeared and with a higher budget. This way the 1970s brought both instant classics with high quality movies, but also interesting new talents with the stories of horror author Stephen King beginning to find their way to screen and upcoming directors like John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg making their entrance, making it a decade of horror worth praising.
We have selected five horror movies from 1970s to inspire you to exploit the classics this Halloween.
The Exorcist (1973)
The first horror movie on the list, is also a movie considered by many to be the very best horror movie ever made. It was also the first horror movie to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Picture, a nomination that was one of an astonishing ten nomination, of which it won two. The movie is a perfect example of two of the most popular horror themes in the 1970s: the occult and children. Here they are mixed up perfectly by letting the devil posses a little girl (played insanely convincing by Linda Blair, who earned an Oscar nomination for her efforts), increasing the horror by defouling innocence that way. The mix between the occult and evil children were a popular one in the decade and is also seen in the other highly popular The Omen (1976) and in Alice, Sweet Alice (1976) and Audrey Rose (1977), but in William Friedkin’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s novel, it is executed with style and great talents. Starring Ellen Burstyn and Max von Sydow the movie has class and is a genuinely scary movie that still manages to chill its audience today.
You can argue that Spielberg already made an impression with the suspenseful TV-movie Duel (1971), but there is no denying that the movie that made him known to the public was this tense horror thriller that completely reinvented the killer animal genre and gave it one hell of a revival. A perfect example of a high quality movie in a decade where the horror genre achieved some well-deserved respect, Spielberg took B-movie elements and dressed them up in a big budget, creating what is considered the very first summer Blockbuster. Based on Peter Benchley’s bestselling novel, the movie perfectly showed what a great talent Spielberg is and is still considered one of the greates movies ever made. Despite some technical issues with the robotic shark (leading to the shark nicknamed ‘Bruce’ after Spielberg’s lawyer), the movie was loved by both audience and critics and went on to win 3 Oscars.
Brian De Palma’s movie adaptation of the debut novel of horror author Stephen King, is a good example of the youth beginning to take over the genre as the cast consists mainly of young people, many of which had their career launched with this very human horror movie dealing with bullying. Star Sissy Spacek was mainly unknown when she was cast as the odd and abused teenager that reacts violently to the mean bullying of her classmates and received an Oscar nomination for the part. This reversed Cinderella story saw Carrie brought up by an abusive religious nut of a mother, giving the movie a whiff of the occult theme so present in the decade. Like Jaws, Carrie is considered one of the great horror filmss of movie history.
When John Carpenter created his indie horror he didn’t just create a huge success. He made an influential horror movie that was largely the reason for the popularization of the slasher film genre in the 1980s. A popularization that seems to have continued, as slasher movies of different variation are still popular today. Casting mostly unknowns, Halloween continues to scare with its suspenseful story, which sends thoughts to the master of suspense himself: Hitchcock. Many sees the movie as a social critique of the youth and their sexual revolution, as the leading lady (a debuting Jamie Lee Curtis) is the innocent among the promiscuous victims. As another example of the quality of the horror of this decade, Halloween is on many people’s favourite horror movie list.
In a whole other sub-genre is Ridley Scott’s masterful sci-fi horror that takes the terror out into space where ‘no one can hear you scream’. Beginning a highly popular francise, which is still going strong, the movie made a star out of leading lady Sigourney Weaver while setting high standards for future heroines with the tough-as-nails Ellen Ripley. Unlike the many sequels and spin-offs, Alien is a tense horror thriller that focused highly on the human aspect of the story while the incredible art work of H. R. Giger ensured a monster that could scare the audience. The movie has gained cult status and is by many considered the best of the franchise, if not only because of its unforgettable dinner scene where Scott managed to deliver a masterful shock.