12 Best Horror Movies of the 1970s

The 70s was a decade of revolution in the movies of all genres as it brought in more realism to the movies than the over-optimistic movies of the 60s. This was especially the decade which was most productive for horror movies.It produced some of the most loved movie franchises and many single classic movies in this genre. The movies were creepy and enduring at the same time and can scare you even today.

The boundaries of this genre were pushed by filmmakers by exploring various permutations and combinations of this genre with other genres.And the result of these experiments was worth watching for any movie lover.It covered the themes of exploration of the human condition, mortality, and self-exploration and it was all wrapped in dust and blood. Following is the list of top classic horror movies of the 1970s which defined the future of this genre.

12. Demons (Shura) (1971)

Based on the play “Kamikakete Sango Taisetsu” and directed by Toshio Matsumoto, this movie is a Japanese classic.This is not like a typical horror movie involving spirits.It deals with our inner monsters and is centered around a nihilistic samurai who goes on a path of destruction and self-destruction. This is one of the darkest films you will ever watch and is sure to make you cringe.The lines between reality, imagination and nightmare is blurred in it and is presented in a visually gorgeous frame.

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11. An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970)

This one is not a movie but a recital of four stories of Edgar Allan Poe by Vincent Price but it will surely frighten you. The terribly dark stories, the amazing recital by Price and a very haunting music make it a terrifying read. The stories that were included are- “The Tell-tale Heart”, “The Sphinx”, “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”.

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10. Carrie (1976)

Brian de Palma took on of Stephen King’s leanest stories, combined it with his high-style aesthetic and created a horror masterpiece about the perils of abuse which wrenches your stomach into knots with a near certainty that it is all going to end very badly. Carrie, a pubescent telepath, who snaps after a lifelong suffering and trauma which unleashes the full power of her telepathic abilities in a deadly outburst of rage. She will leave you in terror with her bug-eyed look and chilling stillness. It is one the best Stephen King adaptations ever made.

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9. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

As obvious from the title it is set in Texas where group kids make a stop in their journey and they are massacred one by one, a few times by a chainsaw. It is a very unnerving and brutal watch. It was a genre-defining movie for ruthless and backwoods horror movies. It evokes dread in a very efficient way which even works for the audience today.

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8. Suspiria (1977)

The film follows a young American ballet dancer abroad at a prestigious German dance academy where she uncovers an ancient, sinister coven of witches. Suspiria is known for its ruthlessly violent kills and the enchanting prog-rock background score. It is a film you will experience as much as watch. The violence in the film is visually stunning and enchanting to watch.

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7. Halloween (1978)

Halloween was somewhat a template or a rule book for the sub-genre of slasher movies that came after it. The influence of this movie can be seen in almost every slasher movie made to this day. The film has an amazing soundtrack which is sure to haunt you as they turn scenes into prolonged beats of terror. It follows 21-year-old Michael Myers who had killed his sister when he was six and has now returned 15 years later to kill again after escaping a mental institution.

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6. Dawn of the Dead (1978)

It was a sequel to “Night of the Living Dead”, the movie with which director George Romero invented the modern zombie movies as we know it. Unlike the first movie, it is color and was set in a shopping mall and was bloodier than the first one. It is about a group of strangers who take refuge in an abandoned shopping mall from an apocalyptic world and increasing interpersonal conflicts as the month passes. Romero was great at creating horror masterpieces and this is one of them.

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5. The Omen (1976)

It is a classic satanic thriller about an American ambassador who begins to suspect that he might be raising the Antichrist. It is a very fast paced movie with a lot of innovative and iconic killings in a horror movie.It stars the marvelous Gregory Peck who can bring life into any character that he plays. It is not an introspective movie rather an entertaining and engrossing thriller which is fun to watch.

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4. Jaws (1975)

The terrorizing of an otherwise quiet island by a white shark leads the trio of a police chief, a marine scientist, and a fisherman into action to save the island. Directed beautifully by Steven Spielberg, this movie is a work of art and it will horrify you to your core. Accompanied by the background score by the musical genius John Williams which makes the movie even scarier, it will keep you on the edge of your seat till the end.

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3. Eraserhead (1977)

Eraserhead is the debut feature film from David Lynch who is the master of surrealism. It is beautiful and disgusting at the same time. It deals with the nightmares involving marriage, fatherhood, and society. When Henry learns that an old fling resulted in the birth of a wormy lizard-like malformity whose cries and hunger are never-ending, his life is turned upside down in a series visions and unsettling events in which every decision leads to traps for further horrors. Lynch shows his cinematic prowess by wringing sympathy for the pathetic creature.

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2. Alien (1979)

This is one of the best movies made by Ridley Scott. It is just perfect. It is a sci-fi horror movie set in space, what other reason is needed to watch this movie. It follows the crew of the Nostromo, who come across the universe’s deadliest predator, Xenomorph which leads to a very violent imagery. The predator is described in the movie as the “Perfect organism.Its structural perfection is only matched by its hostility.” It is a very well-directed movie which is sure to leave you frightened.

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1. The Exorcist (1973)

If you ever ask a horror films lover for a movie recommendation, in most cases The Exorcist will be the first movie they recommend.It is the best work of this genre even today. The documentary-like making of the movie makes it too realistic and a too-believable attach from the devil himself. It is a perfect movie in all the ways possible. The commitment of the director to the narrative and his belief in inherent horrors makes it best film in the genre. This was first of its kind of movie about demonic possession and has since been imitated a lot of times but none can reach the cinematic brilliance of it.

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