It’s that time of the year again, when everyone is desperate to come up with 30 horror movies in 30 days (because, clearly, you never watch horror movies in a month that doesn’t contain Halloween), so I thought I’d take a look at the spine-tingling Netflix offerings from various decades. First up is the sleazy seventies, when JAWS and THE EXORCIST set new standards for terror, and JAWS 2 and EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC set new standards for disappointing sequels. (Sadly, Netflix does not currently offer any of these films.)
10. Madhouse (1974)
Jim Clark’s flick about a horror star (played by Vincent Price, of all people!) who returns to filmmaking after years in a mental institution only to find murders around him isn’t one of Price’s best films, but it’s still an entertaining romp, with Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry and Adrienne Corri on board to lend a (severed) hand.
9. The Baby (1973)
8. Lady Frankenstein (1971)
The stars of CITIZEN KANE and BLOODY PIT OF HORROR found a vehicle together at last in this bizzaro piece of Euro-sleaze from Mel Welles, the original Mr. Mushnik in LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. Joseph Cotten plays Baron Frankenstein, whose work is taken over by his daughter and lab assistant. With Mickey Hargitay and Paul Muller.
7. The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Robert Wise practiced his STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE sci-fi pacing with this adaptation of Michael Crichton’s novel about an alien virus that destroys a small town and the scientists that have to determine how to control it. Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson, Paula Kelly and Kate Reid star in this compellingly sterile film, with some serious devotion to the minutia of disease control research.
6. Lisa and the Devil (1974)
Mario Bava’s entertainingly odd flick about a young woman (Elke Sommer) who ends up in an old mansion with a creepy caretaker (Telly Savalas) is also available under the cash-in re-edit HOUSE OF EXORCISM, but this is the one to see.
5. Frogs (1972)
The image on the poster is sadly not present in the film, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had in this nature-run-amok flick about a group of wealthy folk on an island where the creatures have turned against them. Ray Milland is the patriarch, with Sam Elliott, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke, Judy Pace, Lynn Borden and Mae Mercer.
4. The Evictors (1979)
Charles B. Pierce may be better known for THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN and THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, but his tale of a young couple who moves to a small town in Louisiana, finding the inhabitants less than welcoming, is an underappreciated little gem, with Vic Morrow, Michael Parks, Jessica Harper and Sue Ann Langdon.
3. Piranha (1978)
The first of (to date) five movies in the long-running franchise, Joe Dante’s drive-in classic (with a screenplay co-written by John Sayles) is basically JAWS, but with piranha, but it’s also cleverly written, well-acted, and hits all the drive-in exploitation markers beautifully. With Bradford Dillman, Kevin McCarthy, Heather Menzies, Dick Miller, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Belinda Balaski, Paul Bartel and Richard Deacon.
2. Bay of Blood (1971)
Featuring a death credited as an inspiration for a FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 demise, Mario Bava’s blackly comic horror flick about a family that busily goes about slaughtering each other (and also some teenagers) for insurance predates the slasher film craze, but it’s certainly a must-see for anyone with a taste for classic splatter.
1. Carrie (1976)
What does it say when the most excited anyone’s gotten about the second remake of Brian De Palma’s classic high school revenge saga is after watching a viral marketing campaign for it at a coffee shop? So iconic that you can probably feel as though you’ve seen the film even if you haven’t (You haven’t), CARRIE is one of the most compelling horror films of the era, and features fantastic performances by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. With Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, Priscilla Pointer, Sydney Lassick and Edie McClurg.
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