The Best of the Genre (By Decade): Top 30 “70s Horror Movies”

This is to be the 4th piece of the series here at Grizzly Bomb. For each feature we will examine an individual genre and the quality of its films produced within a specific decade, like, for example – the 25 Best Action Movies of the 90s, the 25 Best Comedies of the 80s, or The 30 Best Sci-Fi Movies from 2000-2009. These lists will be compiled from a point system determined by votes from each member of the staff. It’s very scientific. We use Excel. So here it is…

*31. Grizzly (1976) Bonus!

Horror30. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
29. Horror Express (1972)
28. Scars of Dracula (1972)
27. Legend of Hell House (1973)
26. Magic (1978)


25. Asylum (1972)
24. The Omega Man (1971)
23. Zombie (1979)
22. Suspiria (1977)
21. Theater of Blood (1973)


20. Willard (1971)
19. Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)
18. Don’t Look Now (1973)
17. Black Christmas (1974)
16. Martin (1977)


15. Eraserhead (1977)
14. Shivers (1975)
13. Last House on the Left (1972)
12. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
11. The Omen (1976)


10. The Hills Have Eyes (1977)


The Hills Have Eyes is one of the movies that put Wes Craven on the map, long before A Nightmare on Elm Street and Freddy Kruger, we had the freaks in the hills and one of the sweetest dogs in the history of cinema. And that’s where my focus lies. There are 2 dogs, Beauty and Beast. When the ‘Hill Freaks’ kill Beauty, Beast goes on a Rambo-like killing spree. The Carter family is our protagonists, and they are in constant danger, but all the while, in the background their faithful Shepard Beast is destroying the opposition with a Kill Bill level of rage fuel revenge, and eventually is responsible for the survival of the few family members who make it. BEAST FOR LIFE YO!!!!

US Release: July 22, 1977
Wes Craven
Notable Cast: Dee WallaceMichael Berryman, Virginia Vincent, & Janus Blythe
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: N/A (Originally released with an X Rating)
Best Quote: “We recommend that until we can get to you, you stand on your heads, with your thumbs up.”
Trivia: The movie is based on the legend of Sawney Beane and his family (a wife, eight sons and six daughters), a feral clan who inhabited and roamed the highlands of Scotland’s East Lothian County, near Edinburgh, in the early 1400s. They captured, tormented and ate several transients. They were eventually captured on the order of Scotland’s King James, were judged to be insane, and executed without trial.

9.  Phantasm


TheAtheistGirl has already supplied us with a detailed rundown of this one, so I don’t feel the need to repeat it. You can check out her review,  Click it here.


US Release: June 1, 1979
Director: Don Coscarelli
Notable Cast: Angus ScrimmReggie Bannister, Lynn Eastman-Rossi & A. Michael Baldwin
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $11,988,469
Best Quote: “You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die.”
Trivia: The mansion used for the exterior shots of the mausoleum was also seen in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.

8. The Amityville Horror

HorrorThe Amityville Horror tells the ‘true’ story of the Lutz family who have moved into an ominous looking house to start a new life, but are forced to abandon it after only 28 days. Despite knowing of the grizzly murders that took place in the house before them (The DeFeo murders) the family moves inside, and starts to experience strange occurrences. George Lutz is affected the most, and soon is plagues by haunting thoughts and voices instructing him to murder his new family. This film wowed audiences with its imagery, such as the bleeding walls, atheist flies and a perfectly over-acted Bronson. The Amityville Horror  possessed a nation with its ‘based on a true story’ status & continues to captivate audiences and ghost hunters today!

US Release: July 27, 1979
Director: Stuart Rosenberg
Notable Cast: James BrolinMargot KidderRod SteigerMurray HamiltonAmy Wright, and Helen Shaver
Oscar Wins/Nominations 0/1 (Best Original Score)
US Box Office: $86,432,000
Best Quote: “I’m coming apart! Oh, mother of God, I’m coming apart!”
Trivia: Honey was rubbed on Rod Steiger’s head to draw the flies to him.

Now don’t ask me why, but for some reason all 100 or so copies of the trailer I found have the embedding disabled – which means I couldn’t put it in here, which is a shame as it’s actually a pretty good trailer. You can see it here. Below I’ve included an interview with the Lutz family on Good Morning America.

7.  Carrie


This is Stephen King and Brain De Palma’s giant “Don’t be a Bully” PSA. Here is a movie about a girl who gets abused at home which makes her weird, which in turn guarantees she’ll be abused at school as well. It’s a vicious cycle. The difference here, versus the kids you made fun of back in your teen years, this chick can kill you with her mind. Boom. Suck on that Travolta. Poor Carrie White, she just wanted to be normal and enjoy her prom, but instead she killed most of her class through a series of mean stares and slamming gymnasium doors. You gotta love it. This is something that is lost a lot in the Horror genre – killing kids that deserve it. Well, some of them anyway.

US Release: November 3, 1976
Director: Brian De Palma
Notable Cast: Sissy SpacekPiper LaurieAmy IrvingNancy AllenP.J. Soles, Edie McClurg, and John Travolta.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/2 (Lead Actress & Supporting Actress)
US Box Office:  $33,800,000
Best Quote: They’re all gonna laugh at you.”

Trivia: This was the first Stephen King novel adapted into a movie.

6. Dawn of the Dead


We wrote this one up already too. Supascoot was all over it:


Just bang it here!

US Release: May 24th, 1979
Director: George A. Romero
Notable Cast: David EarlyTom Savini, and Ken Foree
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US/Total Box Office: N/A
Best Quote: “Many have died, last week, on these streets. In the basement of this building, you will find them. I have given them the last rites. Now, you do what you will. You are stronger than us. But soon, I think they be stronger than you. When the dead walk, señores, we must stop the killing… or lose the war.”
Trivia: The two zombie children who attack Peter in the airport chart house are played by Donna Savini and Mike Savini, the real-life niece and nephew of Tom Savini. Incidently, these are the only zombies in all of Romero’s “Dead” films that spontaneously run and never do the trademark “Zombie shuffle”.

5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Also Done-zo. This one was from Godzark….


Massacre it here.

US Release: October 1, 1974
Director: Tobe Hooper
Notable Cast: Gunnar HansenEdwin Neal, and John Larroquette
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US Box Office: $30,859,000
Best Quote: “The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. ”
Trivia: After getting into the old-age makeup, John Dugan decided that he did not ever want to go through the process again, meaning that all the scenes with him had to be filmed in the same session before he could take the makeup off. This entire process took about 36 hours, during a brutal summer heat wave where the average temperature was over 100 degrees, with a large portion of it spent filming the dinner scene, which him sitting in a room filled with dead animals and rotting food with no air condoning or electric fans. Edwin Neal who played the hitch-hiker claimed: “Filming that scene was the worst time of my life… and I had been in Vietnam, with people trying to kill me, so I guess that shows how bad it was.”

4. Alien


This sci-fi horror film is one of the most horrifying and creepy movies of all time. In “Alien”, a commercial spaceship is returning from a mission, and gets an S.O.S. call. When they go to investigate, one of the crew members goes into the hold where he finds a ton of alien eggs. Obviously, this leads to many awesome fights and interactions with aliens. Sweet! Especially for being 1979, this movie is full of fantastic alien gore and special effects. Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, and many others made this movie complete with their spectacular acting and skimpy panties (Weaver). No horror movie list is complete without Alien.

US Release: May 25, 1979
Director: Ridley Scott
Notable Cast: Tom SkerrittSigourney WeaverVeronica CartwrightHarry Dean StantonJohn HurtIan Holm, and Yaphet Kotto.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 1/2 (Won Best Effects, Nom: Art Direction)
US/Total Box Office: $80,931,801

Best Quote: “Final report of the commercial starship Nostromo, third officer reporting. The other members of the crew, Kane, Lambert, Parker, Brett, Ash and Captain Dallas, are dead. Cargo and ship destroyed. I should reach the frontier in about six weeks. With a little luck, the network will pick me up. This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”
Trivia: The rumor that the cast, except for John Hurt, did not know what would happen during the chestburster scene is partly true. The scene had been explained for them, but they did not know specifics. For instance, Veronica Cartwright did not expect to be sprayed with blood.

3. Jaws


The movie that made Steven Spielberg and it’s not even what he wanted. The shark didn’t work and Stevie was forced to use the ‘Shark Cam’ instead – and it resulted in one of most successful movies of all time. The sequels aside, Jaws has had a lasting legacy for over 30 years now as the gold standard of water based movies.

Robert Shaw, Roy Scheider, and Richard Dreyfuss made for a great trio and the ‘scar’ scene is actually studied in film classes to this day. And the score is known and recognized even by people who haven’t seen the movie. That’s influence there.

US Release: June 20, 1975
Director: Steven Spielberg
Notable Cast: Roy Scheider, Murray Hamilton, Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfuss
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 3/4 (Won: Editing, Score, Sound – Nom: Best Picture)
US/Total Box Office: $260,000,000
Best Quote: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
Trivia: The mechanical shark spent most of the movie broken-down, and was unavailable for certain shots. This led Steven Spielberg to use the camera as the “shark”, and film from the shark’s point of view. Many think this added to the “chilling/haunting” quality in the final release saying that it would have made it too “cheesy” had they shown the shark as much as originally planned.

2. Halloween


“Trick or treat… or die” In this thriller, a boy named Michael Myers is institutionalized after killing his sister. He gets out after 15 years and reeks havoc on Halloween night. He has a sister by the way. Jamie Lee Curtis, who he chases… erm… walks very slowly towards. He is also apparently very difficult to kill, setting the series up for all of the sequels to follow.  Halloween has become one of, if not THE most iconic Halloween movie of all time, and for good reason. The stalker-like moves that Michael Myers uses on his victims are part of what is so scary. The most frightening part is that they are situations that could happen to anyone, especially considering that everyone is anonymous on Halloween.

US Release: October 25, 1978
Directors: John Carpenter
Notable Cast: Donald PleasenceJamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, Gwen Van DamKyle Richards, Nancy Kyes,  and Charles Cyphers.
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 0/0
US/Total Box Office: $47,000,000
Best Quote: “I met him, fifteen years ago. I was told there was nothing left. No reason, no conscience, no understanding; even the most rudimentary sense of life or death, good or evil, right or wrong. I met this six-year-old child, with this blank, pale, emotionless face and, the blackest eyes… the *devil’s* eyes. I spent eight years trying to reach him, and then another seven trying to keep him locked up because I realized what was living behind that boy’s eyes was purely and simply… *evil*.”
Trivia: Carpenter approached Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee to play the Sam Loomis role (that was eventually played by Donald Pleasence) but both turned him down. Lee later said it was the biggest mistake he had ever made in his career.

1. The Exorcist


This is, in my oh-so-humble opinion, the scariest movie ever made. And I’m not religious, if I were it’d be all that much scarier. The actual manifestation of the Devil himself and the things he did to that little girl make for one of the most psychologically terrifying films ever made.

The content, combined with events that took place on set with fires and injuries, made for an ominous feel that led some to believe that the very movie itself was cursed (much like Poltergeist). And while it’s not the gory bloodfest type of horror, which is the direction that the genre took in years soon after, if you pay attention, this is truly scary.

US Release: December 26, 1973
Director: William Friedkin
Notable Cast: Ellen BurstynMax von SydowLee J. CobbJason MillerMercedes McCambridge, and Linda Blair
Oscar Wins/Nominations: 2/10 (Won: Sound & Writing – Nom: Lead Actress, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Art Direction, Cinematography, Film Editing, Director, and Best Picture )
US/Total Box Office: $232,671,011
Best Quote: “There are no experts. You probably know as much about possession than most priests. Look, your daughter doesn’t say she’s a demon. She says she’s the devil himself. And if you’ve seen as many psychotics as I have, you’d know it’s like saying you’re Napoleon Bonaparte.”
Trivia: Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine were approached to play the role of Chris MacNeil. Audrey Hepburn was also approached and only agreed to do it if it was filmed in Rome.Anne Bancroft was another choice but she was in her first month of pregnancy and was dropped.

So that is our list, I hope you enjoyed it.


Here are a few fun facts about the results…

Vincent Price/Christopher Lee/Donald Sutherland/P.J. Soles/Peter Cushing/Margot Kidder/Art Hindle/Tom Savini/John Amples/Veronica Cartwright (2 Movies Each)

1. Roy Ward Baker – 3 Movies (Scars of Dracula, Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde, Asylum)
2. George A. Romero – 2 Movies (Dawn of the Dead, Martin)
2. Wes Craven – 2 Movies (Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes)

1. 1979 (5 Movies)
2. 1971,1972, 1973, 1977 (4 Movies Each)
3. 1978 (3 Movies)
4. 1974, 1975, 1976 (2 Movies Each)
5. 1970 (0 Movies)

Also check out our other Best of the Genre (By Decade)

4 thoughts on “The Best of the Genre (By Decade): Top 30 “70s Horror Movies””

  1. Wow, marvelous weblog structure! How long have you been running a blog for? you make blogging look easy. The whole look of your website is fantastic, as smartly as the content!


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