Top 30 Horror Films 1967 – 1979 (Part 1)

Horror film has always been at its best when representing in some form the genuine fears populating society at the time of release. Whether it be the cold-war fears of the 1950s or the feral youth of the 2000s, horror film has managed to tap into our base fears through the very real issues plaguing contemporary culture. Arguably, the genre has never been as powerful or influential as it was between the beginning of the American New Wave and the total commercialisation and high-concept era of the 1980s. In other words, the best horror films ever made appeared in the 12 years between 1967 and 1979.

Top 30 Horror Films 1967 to 1979 (Part 1)
Part 1 (30-21) | Part 2 (20-11) | Part 3 (10-1)

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best 70s horror, amityville horror

30. The Amityville Horror (Stuart Rosenberg, USA, 1979)
Based on a true story, The Amityville Horror tells the tale of the Lutz family who move into their dream home only for it to turn into a supernatural nightmare.

last house on the left, 70s horror, film poster,

29. The Last House on the Left (Wes Craven, USA, 1972)
Sadistic, violent and uncompromising, Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left was notoriously banned in the UK during the “video nasty” scare of the 1980s. It is a story of savage torture, rape and murder followed by a similarly violent revenge attack. The film is not a particularly good one but it is worth experiencing if only for its ability to torment the viewer. The film does indicate a period of American film when violence seeped into the mainstream. It isn’t a movie you’ll need to see twice.

phantasm, film, 70s horror,

28. Phantasm (Don Coscarelli, USA, 1979)
This cult classic from Don Coscarelli who wrote, directed, produced, and edited the film, introduced the world to the infamous Tall Man, a mad undertaker who turns his victims into dwarf zombies. Bravo ranked the film as one of the scariest ever made.

shivers, cronenberg, film,

27. Shivers (David Cronenberg, Canada, 1975)
Shivers is one of many body-horror films from talented writer-director David Cronenberg. The film, which looks at a parasite that infects a number of people in a Montreal apartment block, is a reaction to changing attitudes towards sex during the 1970s. The parasite in question causes in its hosts an uncontrollable sexual appetite and is passed through sexual intercourse.

fury, de palma, best 70s horror,

26. The Fury (Brian De Palma, USA, 1978)
Brian De Palma’s hugely entertaining horror film is a post-Carrie look at telekinesis and its damaging attributes. It boasts a stellar cast which includes Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Amy Irving, Carrie Snodgress, and Charles Durning, with a score by John Williams. Renowned film critic Pauline Kael had high praise of Williams’ score.

when a stranger calls, film,

25. When A Stranger Calls (Fred Walton, USA, 1979)
When A Stranger Calls suffers because its opening 20 minutes is arguably the best 20 minutes of any horror film ever made. Why this is a problem becomes apparent when you realise the rest of the film can’t live up to the quality of the fingernail-devouring first act. But director Fred Walton makes up for it somewhat with a suitably tension-filled finale. It isn’t surprising that the first part of the film was originally made as a short film. However, after the success of Halloween, the film was extended. It tells the story of babysitter who begins to receive strange calls from a man who asks her if she’s ‘checked the children’. What transpires is a heart-in-mouth thrill ride that culminates in a brilliant twist. And this is all in the first few minutes.

the house that dripped blood, best 70s horror, film

24. The House That Dripped Blood (Peter Duffell, UK, 1971)
An anthology of stories greets you in Peter Duffell’s The House That Dripped Blood. A detective investigates four mysterious cases that all concern a strange house.

sisters, de palma, best 70s horror,

23. Sisters (Brian De Palma, USA, 1973)
Actress friends Margot Kidder and Jennifer Salt star in Brian De Palma’s Sisters which looks at a pair of Siamese twins who are struggling to live together harmoniously after being surgically separated. Kidder plays the twins. Salt is an eager reporter who witnesses a murder and believes the twins have something to do with it.

legend of hell house, horror films, 70s horror,

22. Legend of Hell House (John Hough, UK, 1973)
Richard Matheson adapted his own novel for John Hough’s Legend of Hell House, a film which looks at a group of paranormal researchers who go to the infamous Hell House to prove or disprove its supernatural credentials. The film is influenced by 1959’s House on Haunted Hill and 1963’s The Haunting.

martin, romero, best 70s horror,

21. Martin (George A. Romero, USA, 1977)See also Modern Vampire | Top 10 George A. Romero Films
George A. Romero’s Martin strips the gothic horror credentials of the vampire genre to create a unique, modern take on the monster.

Onward to Part 2:

Top 30 Horror Films 1967 – 1979 (Part 2 – 20 to 11)

Jump to the Top 10:

Top 10 Horror Films 1967 – 1979

About the Author
Editor of Top 10 Films, Dan Stephens is usually found pondering his next list. An unhealthy love of 1980s Hollywood sees most of his top 10s involving a time-travelling DeLorean and an adventurous archaeologist going by the name Indiana.

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  1. Avatar
    Will Reply

    Man, these posters alone are fantastic. I’m going to bookmark this because I haven’t seen a good portion of these and they all sound good! This era in horror is truly unique and special.

  2. Avatar
    Kaiderman Reply

    God! I have got to see Martin. People keep talking about it being so good, especially this week, and I can’t be a Romero fan and not have seen it!

  3. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Will – cheers Will, I’m surprised given the range and amount of horror films you’ve reviewed on your site that some of these remian unseen. But I’m glad I could be of assitance. Perhaps as I enter the top 20 and top 10 there may be less new films for you to enjoy but I can guarantee the posters are just as cool!

    @Kaiderman – yeah, check it out Kaiderman, I expect you’ll like it. Great stuff on your site by the way…great run up to Halloween! 🙂

  4. Avatar
    Rodney Reply

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve hardly seen ANY of these – Amityville, Stranger Calls and Hell House are the only ones!!! Mind you, horror films aren’t my normal fare, so to watch one (especially the older ones) is a little rare for me! Great list though, and I’m looking forward to reading the next instalment!!

  5. Avatar
    Will Reply

    @Dan Yeah as much as I enjoy this era in horror, it’s probably the one that I’ve seen the least of. I’ve been slowly working on it.

  6. Avatar
    Colleeng Reply

    Great list! I’ve seen a large number of these back in the day. Because my Mom was such a horror fan I saw more than I wish I had! Funny, I saw Phantasm in the theater when it came out, but I don’t remember a dang thing about it. Martin I’ve never heard of. Going over to Netflix right now…

  7. Avatar
    goregirl Reply

    First off…let me compliment you on your choice of years to cover for this “best of” list. BRAVO! But frankly, trying to compile a list of horror films from 67-79 would likely make my head explode!! I’m not a fan of When A Stranger Calls and I’ve always felt pretty lukewarm about Last House, but I really love your inclusion of Cronenberg’s Shivers and DePalma’s Sisters! I look forward to checking out the rest of your choices!!

  8. Avatar
    MagicWitch Reply

    I’m not a fan of Last House or Amityville but well done for featuring Martin – for me, the best vampire movie ever made.

  9. Avatar
    Dan Reply

    @Rodney – Depending on what you like Rodney I would definitely recommend Martin even for non-horror fans. A very interesting non-Gothic vampire movie.

    @Colleen & goregirl – Thank you! 🙂

  10. Avatar
    mark Reply

    The problem with The Fury is that a man who has telekinetic powers (Andrew Stevens)and can levitate (ie float) dies when he falls from a roof.

  11. Avatar
    Chris Reply

    I’ll see if I can fit in When A Stranger Calls (1979), if only to catch the opening, which sounds amazing and unmissable.

    My review of Cronenberg’s Shivers will be up in a day or two.

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