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10 Best Horror Movies from the 1970s

The 1970s best horror movies.

By Amanda SPublished 5 years ago 6 min read
Not a Movie Included, The Blind Dead.

It was very hard to slim down this list from the forty titles I was looking at. The 1970s was a period of time where really good horror movies started to come out at a fast rate. My top three probably isn't going to shock anyone that is into horror movies. They're classics for a reason and are still amazing to this day.

10. The Baby (1973)

Directed by Ted Post. Written by Abe Polsky. Starring Anjanette Comer, Ruth Roman, and Marianna Hill.

The Plot: A social worker ends up with the weird case of a very strange family. There is a 21 year old that behaves like an infant, and, obviously he's the primary part of the case. He's seemingly mentally disabled and is just called 'Baby.' She tries to get to the bottom of why he is behaving this way and if he is really as disabled as his family portrays him.

Why You Should See It: This movie is a cult classic. Which means, it's not particularly good but damn is it interesting. The plot twist is genuinely shocking, I'm not going to lie, it's very disturbing. This isn't a fetish. I mean, it is a fetish, but that has nothing to do with the plot of the movie.

9. The Crazies (1973)

Directed and Written by George A. Romero. Starring Lane Carrol, Will MacMillian, and Harold Wayne Jones.

The Plot: It's not quite a zombie movie. The first half of the story is taking place in a small town, a small group of friends are trying to avoid a sudden uptick of violence. The second half of the story is the military coming in to try and quarantine a highly contagious virus that was released into the water supply.

Why You Should See It: This is another one of Romero's movies that is saying something more than the plot would imply. It's unsettling to see someone go nuts and set themselves on fire, which happens by the way. It's not quite a zombie moving although there is that element.

8. Ben (1972)

Directed by Phil Karlson. Written by Gilbert Ralston. Starring Lee Montgomery, Joseph Campanella, and Arthur O'Connell.

The Plot: This movie is the sequel to the film Willard. A lonely boy named Danny befriends one of the rats that was trained by Willard. It's actually the main rat in the colony named Ben. Ben and the colony keep Danny safe from a very harsh world for a boy that is as lonely as he is.

Why You Should See It: Okay, so. We can start with Michael Jackson's song 'Ben' which is so damn good. It's at complete odds with the fact that this is a horror movie. And it is a horror movie, don't get confused by the touching description of the plot. It's still a bunch of rats attacking people.

7. Black Christmas (1974)

Directed by Bob Clark. Written by A. Roy Moore. Directed by Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, and Margot Kidder.

The Plot: Some things start to go down at a sorority during the Christmas season. Which is not as much fun as it sounds. The group of girls keep getting phone calls from a disturbed stranger, the first one in the movie ends with him saying he's going to kill them. Things get more complicated when some of the girls start to actually go missing.

Why You Should See It: This is a good movie. This movie would inspire Halloween and I think the inspiration is obvious when you see it. It's well directed and it's well acted. Olivia Hussey is really amazing in this role as a somewhat innocent but resourceful young woman.

6. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Directed by Jim Sharman. Written by Richard O'Brien and Jim Sharman. Adapted from Richard O'Brien. Starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick.

The Plot: A couple is heading back from a wedding when they suddenly hit a storm and some car troubles. They head to an enormous mansion nearby that is clearly having a get-together. All they wanted was to use the phone. But they end up on the weirdest experience of their life.

Why You Should See It: This movie makes no sense but damn is it a fun ride. The music is genuinely good, "Time Warp" is absolutely iconic. It's a little bit horror, a little bit science fiction, and a whole lot of sexy. I mean, you get to watch Tim Curry dressed like that all of the time and trying to get frisky with almost everyone.

5. Salo (1975)

120 Years of Sodom. Directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. Written by Sergio Citti and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Adapted from Marquis de Sade. Starring Paolo Bonacelli, Giorgio Cataldi, and Umberto Paolo Quintavalle.

The Plot: This plot is going to be super triggering on a variety of fronts so please be prepared. Four powerful men trade daughters and decide to do horrible things to them and other young adults. There's a lot of torture and it's really hard to watch.

Why You Should See It: This is not a movie for the faint of heart. It's going to disgust you and it's going to be uncomfortable to watch. This is not a movie for your first date. This movie has heavy themes of sexuality, abuse of power, and the horrors of humanity. This is also, interestingly, the last movie Pasolini would make before being brutally murdered.

4. Eraserhead (1977)

Directed and Written by David Lynch. Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, and Allen Joseph.

The Plot: Henry Spencer goes to dinner to his girlfriend's house, Mary X. It's there that he learns that she has had his child. Eventually Mary leaves Spencer and their child because she has some form of mental breakdown.

Why You Should See It: That short plot is the best that I could come up with to describe the movie without going completely off the rails. There's a lot of really strong themes and one of the most noticeable is the understandable fear of being a father. It's going to require multiple viewings to get a better understanding.

3. Alien (1979)

Directed by Ridley Scott. Written by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Starring Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, and Veronica Cartwright.

The Plot: A crew on a tug spaceship are stopped when the ship detects a signal. They aren't able to understand it at first and when they do; it's too late. Our main character, Ripley learns that the signal was actually something for them to stay away. It's then that they accidentally bring a human killing monster onto the ship.

Why You Should See It: This is an amazing horror movie. It's so scary, the idea of being trapped without any escape. The actual trapped as in, they are in the middle of space. This movie also introduces one of the best female characters; Ripley. She's a great badass who isn't afraid to fight back.

2. The Exorcist (1973)

Directed by William Friedkin. Written and Adapted from William Peter Blatty. Starring Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, and Max von Sydow.

The Plot: After 12-year-old Regan plays with an ouija board and accidentally invites the spirit of 'Captain Howdy' into her life. She starts to behave weirdly, to the point where her mother, Chris (a famous actress), has to do something about it. Despite not being religious, Chris realizes that she has to bring in a priest to try and save her daughter after she is suspected of killing someone.

Why You Should See It: Side note, the book is really good. But the movie is excellently done, and the actors put their all into it. It's well-known that Linda Blair had lasting back problems due to the stunts that she did. This movie is just something that any horror lover should watch. I'm sure it was very shocking in the 1970s, but it's a bit more tame in comparison to now. However, it uses a child which is always scary.

1. Halloween (1978)

Directed by John Carpenter. Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill. Starring Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, and P.J. Soles.

The Plot: Michael Meyers escapes from a sanitarium and heads home for Halloween. He had murdered his older sister when he was only six-years-old and seems to intend to continue a murder spree. Dr. Samuel Loomis rushes to try and stop evil from unleashing onto the little town while Laurie Strode is babysitting and unknowingly losing her friends.

Why You Should See It: This is probably the most famous horror movie from the time period. It would spawn hundreds of rip offs. Of course, there's inspiration from Black Christmas and that should definitely be mentioned. Laurie Strode is such a tough and awesome character. There have been so many sequels and even a reboot that did fairly well. It's always worth to see the original.

Thank you for reading this. I'm apparently very much into hot takes, hence my inclusion of The Baby and Salo. If you could, please leave a tip to let me know you enjoyed this!

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Amanda S

Fascinated by horror and entertainment.

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