It’s Halloween season, Podcast listeners. And this year Jim and Teal whipped up two episodes filled with thrills and delights. The Criterion Channel threw the gauntlet down with 28 Horror films from the 1970s, and the boys tried to see as many as they could. There are so many films to cover, it will take two episodes to do it. Look for the second installment later this week, but in this episode here is what they cover:
Trog – Director Freddie Francis (1970)
Mommie Dearest and a left-over ape from 2001. What could be more fun than that?
The Vampire Lovers – Director Roy Ward Baker (1970)
Ingrid Pitt + Peter Cushing = Hammer vampire movie.
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death – John D. Hancock (1971)
What’s real and what is in the mind? The first of many films on this list to explore the time-honored horror trope of the unstable female protagonist.
Daughters of Darkness – Director Harry Kumel (1971)
Teal and Jim have a lot to say about this outrageous gem from the early 70s.
The Nightcomers – Director Michael Winner (1971)
Neither Jim or Teal found time to watch this one, but with a director like Michael Winner at the helm there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious.
Dracula A.D. 1972 – Director Alan Gibson (1972)
Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing together at last! Or for the 400th time in the waning days of Hammer films they duke it out as Dracula and Van Helsing yet again. Look for hilarious attempts at cashing in on the hip swinging London youth of the 70s with this bizarre movie. Jim’s favorite: Cleverly hidden name, Johnny Alucard may fool some people, but not the puzzle-solving mastery of Peter Cushing.
Death Line – Director Gary Sherman (1972)
AKA Raw Meat, this one could be a precursor to films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Featuring an amazing long, slow, panning zoom shot from cinematographer Alex Thomson, and an over-the-top snarky performance by Donald Pleasence, this one wears out its welcome before the 90 min clock runs out, but still offers some pleasures for the horror-film enthusiast.
Images – Director Robert Altman (1972)
Chalk this one up to the category of little-seen Altman movies, its a bit too slow, but tons of great atmosphere courtesy of Vilos Zsigmond’s cinematography and John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score.
Season of the Witch – Director George A. Romero (1972)
With a reputation like Romero people may go into this one thinking blood, gore and guts. But what they may not be thinking is, slow, talky snooze-fest with a film-making style of NYU grad film. It’s not good. But if you are a Romero completionist, it’s a have to see.
Don’t Look Now – Director Nicolas Roeg (1973)
Watch out for red-cloaked mystery girls in the back alleys of Venice. This one is a creeper for sure, and if you haven’t seen it, you need to.
Sisters – Director Brian De Palma (1973)
De Palma first came to people’s attention with this one. And his ability to string together some great sequences are certainly on display here. Jim and Teal share some interesting thoughts during this portion of the podcast.
Theater of Blood – Director Douglas Hickox (1973)
Jim and Teal didn’t get a chance to catch up with this Vincent Price gem. It’s supposedly a little hammy. If you watch it, let them know your thoughts.
The Wicker Man – Director Robin Hardy (1973)
Before Midsommar Robin Hardy’s Wicker Man did it better. One of the better horror films of the 1970s, if you haven’t seen it, make sure you take this opportunity to check it out on Criterion Channel.
Ganja & Hess – Director Bill Gunn (1973)
Jim suspects this was included because Criterion was already showing this as part of there retrospective on the films of Bill Gunn. He tried the first 20 minutes out the other day. It’s a rough watch. The budget is so low its almost impossible to hear what the actors are saying.
The Crazies – Director George A. Romero (1973)
The more George Romero films you watch the more it becomes clear that Romero is a one-trick pony. He made Night of the Living Dead which isn’t that great, but is a classic because it was the first to re-invigorate and transform the Zombie genre. And then in 1979 he made Dawn of the Dead, which is a horror masterwork. But everything else is pretty much garbage, and The Crazies is a slog to sit through. An interesting concept met with poor execution. The acting’s bad, the drum march score is grating, and the direction is flat. Skip it and go for the 2010 remake instead.
The Exorcist – Director William Friedkin (1973)
This one isn’t on Criterion Channel’s 1970 horror collection, but Jim rewatched it anyway. It still holds up, and it is fun to see the craftsmanship at work, and all of the ways it influenced ever horror film that’s come after it. Definitely one to rewatch if its been a while, or if you were just a kid when you first saw it.
It’s Alive – Director Larry Cohen (1974)
It’s a psychotic baby killing people. What’s not to love?
Black Christmas – Director Bob Clark (1974)
Is this the same Bob Clark that directed Christmas Story, or the one who directed Porkys? Or maybe its the Bob Clark that directed Turk 182. Surprise, it’s the same Bob Clark! There is style on display here, a creepy corpse in the attic of a sorority house, a young non-comedic Andrea Martin, and an off-the-wall performance by Olivia Hussey who clearly was making her own movie. And Keir Dullea. If you think Dullea’s creepy in this movie, check out Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake is Missing.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Director Tobe Hooper (1974)
Tobe Hooper is another horror director who’s reputation built off this film is a check Hollywood couldn’t cash. Just ask Steven Spielberg who realized this on the set of Poltergeist. But while his subsequent films couldn’t hold a candle to this 1974 horror classic, Hooper hits it out of the park with this unnerving film of pure terror. The atmosphere of realism makes the audience feel the danger, and Marilyn Burns turns in a fantastic performance as the last gal standing against Leatherface and his family of ghouls.
This is a big list of films, and it is only the first part. Please take a listen to our podcast episode and hear what we have to say about these horror films of the 1970s. Let us know which ones were your favorites.