Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s – Top Honors!

Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s – Top Honors!

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***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***
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So which films take the top honors as the best TV horror flicks of the 1970’s?top 1970's TV horror - small
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I’ve compiled results based upon my posts here on Parlor of Horror. Standing is directly related to Likes, Comments, and Views, I’ve gotten for the posts here. So without further fanfare, here are the Top TV Horror Movies of the 1970’s:
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10) The Norliss Tapes (1977) 16 likes, 1 comment
9) Dead of Night (1977) 16 likes, 7 comments
8) The Stone Tape (1972) 22 likes, 8 comments
7) The Night Stalker (1972)  19 likes, 12 comments
6) The Night Strangler (1973) 20 likes, 5 comments
5) The Gargoyles (1973) 21 likes, 11 comments
4) Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1972) 22 likes
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3) Salem’s Lot (1979) – 22 likes, 10 comments

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2) Duel (1972) 23 likes, 10 comments
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and here it is folks, the Top, #1, Television Horror Movie of the 1970’s!!!
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Trilogy of Terror (1975)

26 likes, 17 comments

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Congrats to Karen Black, Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson for making Trilogy of Terror the Top TV Horror Film of the 1970’s!! As chosen by Parlor of Horror and their followers. And thanks to all of you for your likes and comments which helped make the choice!
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didn’t make the cut: Someone’s Watching, Curse of the Black Widow, Summer of Fear, The Stranger Within.
However, its not too late to get your vote in…

Dead of Night (1977) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

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Dead of Night (1977)

Directed by Dan Curtis
Written by Richard Mathesontop 1970's TV horror - small

Starring:
Ed Begley Jr.
E.J. André
Ann Doran
Patrick Macnee
Joan Hackett
Lee Montgomery

Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson team up one more time in the 1970’s for an anthology, three fantastic tales to amaze, astound, and terrify the TV audience. The first story feels more like a Twilight Zone episode as a young man travels back in time in a 1926 automobile and accidentally effects his near future for the better. The next story has a successful estate owner in 1896 foster the town’s superstitions in order to capture his wife’s lover. The last tale, “Bobby,” follows a mother whose son had gone missing some months ago. It is assumed that he had drown when he was playing on the rocky cliffs dead-of-night-1977near the beach. The woman is so distraught she uses a witchcraft ceremony to try and locate her little, Bobby. That night, during a raging storm, Bobby comes back, but he’s not quite the same. He has a nasty disposition and when the power goes out he torments his mother with several attempts on her life. There’s shades of Pet Sematary in this segment which is the best of the bunch. It has some moderate creepiness to it but its not going to scare your shorts off. As a whole this film doesn’t stand the test of time as well as some of the other made for TV horror flicks I’ve reviewed here.

The special features of the DVD includes an additional story/movie previously filmed for a TV pilot made in 1969, shortly after the success of Dark Shadows. Also named, Dead of Night, the series was never picked up by a network, but the pilot produced by Dan Curtis aired in 1969. It was quite melodramatic and not nearly as good as Dark Shadows or the later anthology, but leading man Kerwin Mathews playing a ghost hunter could have made for a nifty little series. It was definitely along the lines of The Night Stalker and The X-files. However it didn’t seem developed enough and I’m sure Curtis used lessons learned with this venture to perfect his vision for The Night Stalker.

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Fun Facts:

Dead of Night was also the name of a 1945 horror anthology film, famous for being the first film using the horror anthology format. Dead of Night 1945 was a big influence on the co-founders of Amicus Films.

The segment “Bobby” was remade in the film, Trilogy of Terror II (1996)

Duel (1971) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

Duel 1971 - pic 3

Duel (1971)top 1970's TV horror - small

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Written by Richard Matheson

This early Stephen Spielberg film penned by Richard Matheson is a fantastic suspense thriller that holds up well even to this day. David Mann, (Dennis Weaver) is heading cross country to a new job. Early in the trip he passes a truck that was moving slow and spewing fumes from the exhaust pipe. He iDuel 1971 - dvds tormented by a faceless trucker in this mind-game of cat and mouse for the rest of his trip. The suspense and terror associated with the unknown assailant builds to a feverish peak as David tries to shake off his stalker with little success.

There is a scene where David enters a roadside diner after being run off the road and nearly killed by the assailant. He knows the truck driver is in the diner and walks through quietly examining each of the men in a highly tense scene. It’s a great example of psychological horror, worthy of a Hitchcock film. Back on the road, the two are locked into a deadly duel as David in his 1971 Plymouth Valiant tries to fend off the faceless driver in his 1955 Peterbilt 281, tanker truck.

If you have not seen this movie, it would be worth seeking out. It is shot in the style of 1970’s movies, but that doesn’t hinder the tension and suspense of this classic road trip film.

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Fun Facts:
In one scene, David sees a sedan resembling a police car and hopes to get help with his predicament. However it turns out to be a car for an exterminator service. The name of the company is ‘Grebleips’ which is “Spielberg” spelled backwards.

In the scene where David Mann is calling the police from a telephone booth, Spielberg can be seen in the reflection of the glass. He said in an appearance on The Actors Studio that it was an unintentional cameo.

The roadside Diner in the film, Chuck’s Café, is still standing today and is a French Restaurant.

Some additional scenes were shot for this film for its theatrical release outside the US. These are good scenes with the bus and the train tracks. It’s recommended that you see the extended theatrical release film with these scenes included. (I believe it’s the only version on dvd/bluray)

There are many more interesting trivia and fun facts for this film, If you are interested you should check out the IMDb page.

Trilogy of Terror (1975) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

Trilogy of Terror - pic 5

Trilogy of Terror (1975)

directed by Dan Curtistop 1970's TV horror - small
written by Richard Matheson
and William F. Nolan

Starring:
Karen Black
Robert Burton
John Karlen
George Gaynes

Trilogy of Terror posterDan Curtis and Richard Matheson are together again for another exceptional TV movie, perhaps the best of the lot. Karen Black plays 4 different characters in three separate stories of this horror anthology film. The last segment has pushed this made-for-TV film into legendary cult status. A lonely woman gets a Polynesian Zuni Fetish Doll as a gift. When handling it she knocks off it’s protection necklace and the thing comes to life with a thirst for blood and death. The battle between Karen Black’s character, Amelia, and the evil warrior doll in a small claustrophobic apartment is one of the great conflicts in horror films. That doll still haunts the dark corridors of my nightmares. While everyone talks about the Zuni Fetish doll episode, ‘Amelia‘, the other two stories are quite good also. Karen Black who at the time had not been considered a horror film actress excelled in the lead roles of this film and especially the last segment. If you have not seen this film I recommend that you do it. Hopefully it still stands the test of time and new viewers are as frightened by it as original viewers were in the 1970’s.

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Fun facts:

During the “Julie” segment, a shy teacher agrees to go to a movie with a student. The movie is supposedly a French vampire film, but what we see on the screen are scenes from The Night Stalker.

Karen Black came up with the idea of grinning and showing fang-like teeth similar to the ‘zuni’ doll in the final scene of  ‘Amelia.’

In the Nightmares and Dreamscapes episode, “Battleground” (Stephen King) the hitman has the Zuni fetish doll from “Trilogy of Terror” in a display case.

 

trilogy of terror - TV Guide ad Trilogy of Terror - pic 4

(TV Guide Ad pic thanks to ‘Joe’s Rec Room’)

The Night Strangler (1973) – movie review

***Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s***

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The Night Strangler (1973)

Written by Richard Mathesontop 1970's TV horror - small
Directed by Dan Curtis

Starring:
Darren McGavin
Simon Oakland
Jo Ann Pflug
Richard Anderson

Dan Curtis, Richard Matheson, and Darren McGavin return with another TV movie. Hard Boiled reporter, Kolchak, having been escorted by police out of Las Vegas, finds himself in Seattle with his loud and reluctant boss, Vincenzo. This one concerns a killer living in the Seattle underground,the night strangler - poster the city buried beneath the city, and a series of murders taking place every 21 years since the 1800’s. Strangler offers even more mystery than the first film and has some gripping suspense and action. There are enjoyable cameos and guest stars including, John Carradine, Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster), Wally Cox and Margaret Hamilton (the wicked witch of the West).

This film offers more of the action, mystery, and suspense seen in ‘Stalker’ but never feels redundant. ‘Strangler’ is as good as ‘Stalker’ due to Darren McGavin’s immersion into the character and another finely written script. The film’s success prompts ABC to create a series. Like I stated in the Night Stalker review, Curtis and Matheson were not part of the series, but I have reviewed one of my fave episodes and mentioned others in different posts. I will probably review more of my fave episodes in future posts, as I often watch the series around Halloween each year.

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Fun Facts:

A 3rd film in the series was planned titled, The Night Killers. Conflicting story ideas show up for the 3rd film. One has Kolchak visiting NY and finding a vampire lair. The other idea placed him in in Hawaii and involved UFO’s and a government conspiracy/cover-up. The story is reminiscent of the X-Files. The 3rd film was abandoned when ABC decided to instead order the TV series.

The Seattle Underground. In 1889, Old Seattle was devastated by a destructive fire. Instead of rebuilding the area the same, city builders decided to raise the level of the city. This would ensure areas would no longer be flooded and that tides would not back up the toilets in the area. The new street level was anywhere from 12 to 30 feet higher than the old one. In 1965 an underground tour was stated to visit the ruins.

links:
The Night Stalker movie review
The Night Stalker episode review
The History of Zombies in film

The Night Stalker (1972) – movie review

the night stalker - pic 9

Top Television Horror Movies of the 1970’s

In the 1970’s the major networks began producing their own horror movies brought on by the success of the Dan Curtis’ TV film, Dark Shadows, and it‘s subsequent series. At this time period more than any other, horror flicks flourished on prime-time network television. I am going to review a bunch of these flicks. Each will be posted with my “TV Horror flick logo”

The Night Stalker (1972)top 1970's TV horror - small

kolchak--the-night-stalkerDirected by John Llewllyn Moxey
Starring
Darren McGavin
Simon Oakland
Carol Lynley
Barry Atwater

 

Dan Curtis and Richard Matheson teamed up to produce and adapt the Jeff Rice unpublished novel, The Kolchak Papers. Renamed The Night Stalker. It held the record in ratings for the most watched TV movie up to that time boasting a 54% Market share. Filmed for ABC, it was an entertaining vampire film with an outstanding protagonist in Carl Kolchak played deftly by Darren McGavin. I remember the vampire being highly active and having tremendous strength, different than vampires in films up to the time. It was a huge event to have a horror film on prime time TV and it made for active water cooler and school hall chatter for weeks. The finale where Kolchak enters the vampires lair to drive a stake through the vampire’s heart offers rich suspense and atmosphere as powerful as any major film. This film was followed by another made for TV film, The Night Strangler, and a TV series. Unfortunately, Curtis and Matheson were not part of the series which struggled for two years before being cancelled, but there are some fun episodes in the series nevertheless. The Night Stalker is a great movie and holds up well even to this day.

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related links:

The Night Stalker TV episode review
The Night Strangler review – coming soon

 

Twilight Zone The Movie (1983) – movie review

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Twilight Zone The Movie (1983)

Produced by Steven Spielberg and John Landismy top 10 1980s horror
segments directed by:
Steven Spielberg
John Landis
Joe Dante
George Miller

Twilight Zone The Movie took some fan favorite episodes and remade them with modern effects and in modern times (1980s). The film was quite successful in that aspect providing high budget filming in a movie anthology format. The wrap around story stars Dan Akroyd and provides a nostalgic introduction and comical ending to the film.

“Kick the Can” will sure to put a smile on your face as Scatman Crothers visits an old age home and gives the old folk one night to be young again. This is exemplary Steven Spielberg feel-good story-telling with a wonderful cast of young and old Twilight Zone movie posteractors that really sell the tale.

In “It’s a Good Life,” a young boy with special powers brings a beautiful stranger, Helen Foley, into the fold of his family. However, she is less than amused with the family’s pandering to the child. When she gets angry, Anthony tries his best to entertain her but his childhood idea of fun only frightens her beyond belief. Dante did an amazing job at creating a world where anything is possible from the imagination of a child’s mind. Cartoon monsters explode onto the screen in a frenzy of fantastic effects and vivid color. The original stars Billy Mummy and is still a treat to watch but this one takes the story one step further giving it more closure and resolve. Directed by Joe Dante.

John Lithgow is fantastic as the paranoid nervous flyer, John Valentine, in “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” This has to be some of the best acting of his career. You really feel the anxiety and pain in his character as he tries to convince the flight crew that there’s a gremlin on the wing of the plane. The music helps to ramp up the tension in this segment. The creature is a beautiful creation itself, a Twilight Zone movie - pic 11masterpiece in animatronics special effects. That was always the one thing lacking in the original TZ episode. William Shatner played the part convincingly but the creature was less than appealing to future generations. The original is a pleasure to watch but the movie version is scarier because of the realistic effects. directed by George Miller.

The first segment in the film, “Time Out,” is about a bigot who is forced to live the lives of the people he detracts. Because of the tragedy associated with this segment, the filmmakers were lucky to even get a story that feels like it has an ending. While filming the Vietnam jungle scene, an explosive caused a helicopter to crash, killing Vic Morrow and two child actors. Needless to say, this put a damper upon celebrating the release. This segment was directed by John Landis.

If there could be one thing good to come out of the tragic deaths it’s that ultimately films became safer through laws and safety regulations and the actors themselves gained theTwilight Zone series - gremlin courage to say “cut” if they saw something dangerous going down. Ironically, the last thing Morrow said before shooting the scene was, “I got to be crazy for doing this, I should have asked for a stunt double.” Director, John Landis, and some of his crew spent the next 10 years in court and though they were acquitted for manslaughter, they paid out millions in Civil suits.

The movie has the tone and feel of the Twilight Zone series and is a commendable effort to bring these great stories by Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, and George Clayton Johnson, into more modern times. If you like the series you will definitely like this film. It doesn’t feel like it’s trying to replace the old stories but are more like enhanced versions respecting what has come before.

 

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Fun Facts:

Burgess Meredith took the role of Rod Serling’s narrator (voice only). He starred in several episodes of the original series. He is tied with Jack Klugman for the most appearances in the TZ series (4).

Billy Mumy plays a small part in the segment, “It’s a Good Life,” as one of the guys who gets angry at Anthony for banging on the video game in the bar. As I had mentioned, Mumy played Anthony in the original TV series. The segment also featured parts by Kevin McCarthy and William Schallert who had likewise starred in Twilight Zone episodes.

From the 1970’s punk band, The Runaways, lead singer Cherrie Currie played Anthony’s sister in the “Good Life” segment. Ironically she had been afflicted by Anthony and no longer had a mouth.

Several Televisions in the house always had cartoons airing somewhat matching what was taking place in the story. Toons included parts of Bugs Bunny, Heckle and Jeckle, Daffy Duck, Betty Boop, Claude Cat and Hubie and Bertie/Mouse Wreckers. This is one of my favorite aspects about the “Good Life” segment.

In the wrap around, Dan Akroyd delivers an oft used quote…You want to see something really scary?

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I just wanted to mention that somewhere on the web someone had stated these FX were CGI. I can assure you there were no CGI effects in 1983. Some films did use computers for framing and camera movements but not for visual subjects, that usage was still 8-10 years in the future. What we did have in 1983 was…Stan Winston!

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