The 70’s were a great time in general for cinematic contributions, with films such as Grease, The Godfather, and Blazing Saddles. While the big screen was being lit-up with some of the biggest movies of all time, the horror industry was also gaining more footing. This was the decade in which the horror genre was really established in the mainstream and recognized as a genre with depth. Many of horror’s historically well-known films are from this decade, so needless to say it’s a hard one to pick only five films from…but we’ll make do!
#5- Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Probably Toby Hooper’s most notable and well-known contribution, this is definitely a film everyone should watch once in their lives. A group of friends takes a road trip and along the way stumble upon the type of people you do NOT want to meet while in the middle of nowhere. A tension-soaked, grimy slasher set in the backwoods of Texas, this one will remain on the brain for days afterwards. Perfect for those who don’t like over-the-top scares and are more for the atmosphere! Available to stream on Tubi, Amazon Prime, and Shudder.
#4- Halloween (1978)
John Carpenter’s Halloween is yet another landmark moment for the horror industry, and if it hasn’t popped up on your list yet I highly encourage you to add it. Another ‘must see’, this movie set the standard for monster human flicks. A man, a sociopath and killer, escapes captivity and begins an unstoppable search for his next victim eliminating anyone who crosses his path. Helpless high school student Laurie Strode comes face to face with the cold blooded killer whose been stalking her, and must fight to save her life in classic final girl style. Available to stream on Amazon Prime and Shudder.
#3- Carrie (1976)
Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, Brian de Palma takes on the story of Carrie White a high school student with a deeply devoted religious mother and a knack for telekinesis. When some classmates play a horrible prank during prom, Carrie exacts her revenge in a fiery blaze. Added bonus of the cast with names like Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, and P.J. Soles (who has a role in Carpenter’s Halloween too)! Great film for those who don’t like outwardly scary but want something that gets into their heads. Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
#2- The Exorcist (1973)
Certainly everyone has come across this one at one point or another, whether it be the film itself or a reference in pop culture. Chris MacNeil lives with her daughter Regan while she films an upcoming movie. Regan becomes possessed and Chris must connect with the Church in order to rescue her daughter from the demon Pazuzu. This film remains the exorcism film for many reasons, the history behind the demon is well fleshed-out, the actors play their roles incredibly well, and the practical effects still stand strong today. With some of the most infamous lines and scenes of all time, this is another staple of the horror genre to come out of the 70’s. Beware, there are some truly stomach turning moments in this one. Available on Amazon Prime and HBO.
#1- Suspiria (1977)
It was really hard to chose an imagine for this one, mostly because it is one of the most visually stunning horror movies out there. Touching on Giallo traditions, this film is vibrant and full of shadow-play. Suzy Bannion starts as a ballet student at the Freiburg Dance Academy in Germany, but as soon as she arrives she starts to notice little things that don’t add up. As it turns out the academy has an ancient secret, it’s run by a coven of witches. With a score recorded by Goblin this film plays to multiple senses, aurally and visually submerging you in the story. Be sure to check out more of Dario Argento’s work if you like this one! Available to stream on Amazon Prime.
Other notable mentions: The Omen (1976), Black Christmas (1974), and The Amityville Horror (1979).
Check out the top horror films from the 60s right here!