Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Top 5 Horror Films of the 1970's

With Halloween just around the corner, it’s time to count down some of the best horror films. In this list, we’ll be looking at what is arguably the best time for horror. The 1970s.


THE WICKER MAN



Part musical, part dark comedy, part mystery/whodunit…with a whole lot of horror thrown in. To those unfamiliar with the story, The Wicker Man is the dark tale of a staunchly religious police officer (Edward Woodward) being dispatched to the island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. But he’ll soon realise that there is something dark about this little island. Also starring a never-better Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man delivers chills in an unconventional way. Iconic and memorable, The Wicker Man also happens to be my favourite film of all time. Just avoid the American remake at all costs, which funnily enough is considered one of the worst films in the history of cinema. Come. It is time to keep your appointment with The Wicker Man.

Best moment in a film full of fantastic moments (Britt Ekland in that scene), it would be hard to pick one. But of course, the most iconic and most frightening is the final scene from which the film gets its title.

Fun fact - prior to shooting the aforementioned climactic scene, Edward Woodward was in the Wicker Man and a goat was penned in above him. Because the goat was scared at being shut up, it urinated all over Woodward.

THE EXORCIST



It would be wrong to compile a list of the greatest horror films of the 1970s and leave out The Exorcist. Adapted by William Peter Blatty from his novel of the same name and directed by the legendary William Friedkin, The Exorcist tells the tale of a 12 year old girl Regan (Linda Blair) becoming increasingly possessed by a demon and her mother’s attempts to win her daughter back through exorcism, with the help of two priests. Despite a ‘cursed’ set and a troubled production, The Exorcist became one of the highest grossing films of its time and was the first horror film to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award. Still terrifying to this day and a personal favourite of critic Mark Kermode, The Exorcist is easily one of the finest horrors in cinematic history.

Best moment as Father Merrin and Father Karras try to exorcise Regan, she laughs and spins her head all the way around like a possessed owl. Chilling stuff.

Fun fact - on the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Linda Blair's delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines.

JAWS



Although many wouldn’t necessarily call Jaws a horror, it bloody is one. With a tagline like ‘the most terrifying motion picture from the terrifying no.1 best seller’, it can’t really be anything else. Directed by the great Steven Spielberg, Jaws tells the tale of a giant man-eating shark attacking beach-goers on Amity Island, a coastal resort town. When three mismatched men attempt to hunt it town together, they must settle their difference if they ever wish to catch the sharp-toothed bugger. Made on a budget of under $10 million and grossing almost $500 million, Jaws was the highest film of all time when it was released. And for its time, it was horror on an unprecedented scale with tourism numbers for seaside towns dropping to an all-time low out of fear of shark attacks. If that doesn’t make it a successful horror, I don’t know what does.

Best moment the discovery of the remains of Ben Gardner, local fisherman, in the wreckage of his ship. Still terrifying to this day.

Fun fact the immortally iconic line "you're gonna need a bigger boat" was not scripted, but ad-libbed by Roy Scheider.

ALIEN



Ridley Scott’s science-fiction horror is next, telling the story of a highly aggressive extra-terrestrial that stalks and kills the crew of a spaceship. With an all-star cast including Sigourney Weaver, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt; Alien is a slow-burning and tense thrill-ride, originally pitched as ‘Jaws in space’. While initial critical reception was mixed – iconic critic Roger Ebert stated it was ‘basically just an intergalactic haunted house thriller set inside a space ship’ – it has since gone on to be considered a masterpiece in both the horror and sci-fi genres. With several sequels, prequels, spin-offs and video games taking the iconic Xenomorph creature to new highs and lows, there’s no denying the terrifying power of the original film that still holds up frighteningly well.

Best momentquite obviously, the best moment is also one of the most iconic; the unforgettable chestburster scene in which John Hurt suffers a new level of discomfort. Hilariously spoofed in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs.

Fun fact - The blue laser lights that were used in the alien ship's egg chamber were borrowed from The Who. The band was testing out the lasers for their stage show in the soundstage next door.
 

DAWN OF THE DEAD



Dawn of the Dead, from zombie movie maestro George A. Romero, is arguably the finest and most influential of the Dead films – and zombie films in general. Taking place almost entirely in a suburban shopping mall, the film tells the story of a group of survivors in the midst of an apocalypse. Considered by some as too violent in its day with Roger Ebert claiming it to be ‘gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling’, the gore hasn’t held up too well. But you must put yourself in a 1978 cinema seat and imagine seeing this unprecedented violence for the first time. Timeless, iconic and the zombie film. Without George A. Romero, we wouldn’t have The Walking Dead. Also, one of the very few films to have a decent remake.

Best momentnot so much a moment as a theme, George A. Romero’s trademark satire and social commentary is evident throughout Dawn of the Dead. The most clear example of this is the zombies wondering aimlessly around the shopping mall – a behaviour Romero states you can see in living people.

Fun fact
- extras who appeared in this film were reportedly given $20 in cash, lunch, and a Dawn of the Dead T-shirt as payment.


Sam Love



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