Thursday, October 21, 2010

Groovy 70s Horror Films

Karen: You know we're all about the 70s here at BAB, and in honor of Halloween, I'm going to take a look at some of my favorite horror films of the 70s.

No conversation about 70s horror would be complete without referencing the many films that came out of Hammer Studios. Although the studio's output was definitely on the downside by the time the 70s rolled around, their style -probably best summed up as blood and boobs - had set a tone for things to come. Dracula AD 1972 is one of the cheesiest films you might ever see, with a hilarious depiction of hip London kids. But Christopher Lee still manages to be a terrifying Dracula, and Peter Cushing turns in another winning performance as his nemesis. 1974's Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter is a very offbeat film, but one that I enjoy. The good captain and his assistant work to free a village from the grip of a vampiric menace. The beautiful Caroline Munro is also featured in both of these films, for those who might be interested. Both are also available from Netflix too.

Nazis? Zombies? Two great bad guys that go great together! How about Nazi zombies? As a plus, they're amphibious Nazi zombies! OK, sounds pretty goofy, but the movie Shock Waves (1977) manages to make it entertaining. There's also the aforementioned Peter Cushing in a small role, and horror film veteran John Carradine as a cranky old ship captain. There's also a guy who looks a lot like Will Ferrell and acts just as stupid as him. Despite the inherent ridiculousness of the plot, it manages to be genuinely spooky in some spots. Worth a view from YouTube at the very least:

Speaking of 70s zombies, how about one of the best zombie films ever? I'm talking (of course) about the original Dawn of the Dead (1978). The world is in the grips of a zombie plague; society is breaking down, and four people escape to the imagined safety of a shopping mall. But then, things go terribly awry...this is a must-see film, a horror classic. Sure, the zombie makeup is pretty lame - they look like a bunch of smurfs, they're so blue. But the story is so good, I think you can get past it. The feeling of dread that permeates the whole movie is hard to shake.

There was also a lot of great horror to be found on TV in the 70s. Back in those days, there were movies of the week, where you could find such fare as Gargoyles, The Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror, Crowhaven Farm, and a sweet little miniseries called Salem's Lot (1979). Based on the Steven King novel, this adaptation was well-acted, suspenseful, and had a number of jump out of your chair moments.

I highly recommend any of these movies if you love the 70s the way we do here at BAB! And a heads-up: the excellent zombie comic The Walking Dead has been turned into a TV series by the folks at AMC. It will premiere on Halloween night. From what little I've seen so far, it looks like they're doing a good job on it. Here's a clip:


Anonymous said...

I said it before - The Walking Dead is a great comic series!

J.A. Morris said...

Hammer Horror fans might appreciate this audiobook that features Cushing telling the story of his Hammer years:

I remember when 'Salem's Lot' first premiered on tv, it was the talk of the playgrounds for days afterwords. I was so ticked off that I hadn't seen it,didn't see it until 1981(pre-dvd/vhs days,of course). One of the best tv movies ever. I didn't realize until a month ago that it was a multi-part miniseries, I've still only seen the 2-hour edit of 'Lot'.

I don't mean to highjack the thread, but(since it was mentioned here months ago)did everyone watch the premier of the new Avengers animated show last night? I thought it was pretty good,close enough to the comic version. I've always thought of Graviton as a poor man's Magneto, but he worked too.

Doug said...

Again, not to hijack the thread...

I saw the last 10 minutes of the first episode of the Avengers and the first 15 minutes of the conclusion. I thought the voice for Iron Man sounded too young. Liked the voice for Thor. Graviton was OK -- looked a little like Rasputin the Mad Monk! Action was good, but overall I thought it was "OK". Not great, but certainly not terrible. I thought that they included several Marvel super-baddies was cool.


Anonymous said...

I DVRed Avengers, can't wait to check it out....

I loooove weird 70s horror flicks (check out the Phantom of the Movies magazine-)...

I really like the flicks that mix genres..check out the Shaw Bros/Hammer production of LEGEND of the 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES, (vampires AND Kung-FU!) Another fave is THE SHRIEKING (aka HEX), witches vs. bikers (Scott Glenn, K. Carradine and Gary Busey!) and a trippy freak-out scene.

I think Rob Zombie nailed it with Houseof1000...,Devil's Rejects, and the Halloween remake. He lost me with Halloween 2, what happened? They're fun to watch just for the casting, lots of 70s-80s throwbacks.


Karen said...

J.A., thank you for the link. Peter Cushing was, by all accounts I have read, a truly kind and decent person.

I was lucky to see Salem's Lot when it first premiered, rather than in the poorly cut versions out there now. You can see it all on YouTube!

OK, I'll jump in on the Avengers bandwagon here (hmm, perhaps we need to start a post for it?): I thought the animation style was dreadful, like something out of the 90s.The theme song was even worse! But I enjoyed the story, even if it was inspired by the origin of the 'New' Avengers. I really liked that they went with the original line-up for the team in this first story, not bringing Cap in immediately. The actor doing Iron Man definitely seemed to be trying to channel Robert Downey Jr. The rest seemed fine. I was a little concerned that they seemed to be making Pym look a bit like an idiot at times. I like the way the Hulk is being presented. Can't wait for the next episode.

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