Thursday, February 19, 2009

70s Made-For-TV Horror Movies: My 5 Favorite Obscure Ones




I hope to regularly write about some of the more obscure horror movies you might have missed. Today’s article is about Made-For-TV horror of the 70s, my top 5 fav's.

I admit as a nostalgic adult, I love having a collection of the movies that terrified me as a kid. Here's the top 5 obscure ones that I have practically worn out. I suppose it's a combination of remembering my first real thrills at horror and a longing for the days when budget movies could eek out a lot of tension and mood and atmosphere instead of slicing and dicing characters. These were true thrillers and give you the taste and tang of the 70s. If you were around during that time period, these will surely get you nostaglic.

Of course, there were some huge ones like “Burnt Offerings,” Salem’s Lot,” and “Trilogy of Terror,” but I want to introduce readers to ones they might not have known about. If I could only keep 5 of my made-for-TV 70s horror movies, these are them.

I tend to write a few descriptive words so when I’m in the mood for a certain type of movie, I can find it easily in my collection, so some of these key words after the title will help you decide if it’s your type of elements for the mood you’re in:

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975): Mystery, romance, psychology, past life. A man begins to have nightmares and runs across landmarks he’s seen in his dreams. Could he have lived a past life? If so, should he really have an affair with his own daughter? This was a very well done tense drama. You wonder sometimes if the guy is crazy, other times you wonder if he’s just been doing time in this life waiting to pick up where he left off in the last one. You can’t help but get sucked into the main character and the mystery of his past life as it unravels. It has a good deal to do with human nature and a great deal to do with trusting your gut instincts. This is one of my very favorites, but I’m a romantic at heart so the mood and the mystery and the terror were thrilling,plus I had a touch of a crush on Michael Sarrazin at the time.

Snowbeast (1977): Ski lodge, cold, stalking, beast. I’m a gigantic Bigfoot nut, so I have just about everything having to do with him, but this movie I saw on TV as a kid and I was absolutely shivering beneath my blanket. It’s very slow moving with lots of your typical movie-of-the-week actors. Whatever happened to Bo Swenson? When the Bigfoot action gets going near the end, however, it’s quite exciting. Admittedly, as a kid it was more horrifying, but I do wish they’d make more bigfoot movies like this one where he hovers, hidden, and you see things from his viewpoint as he studies his prey. Fast forward the first hour if you don’t want the circa “Love Boat” and “Fantasy Island” soap opera backgrounds of the characters.

Shattered Silence (1972): (aka “When Michael Calls”). Autumn, moody, countryside, dark. This was my second favorite ever made-for-TV movie. Michael Douglas was great in this. It has a lot of big-time actors. The setting is fantastic and if you grew up in the 70s, this will make you feel like you’re having a real Halloween again as a child. I watch it every Autumn several times just for the atmosphere. The story itself is a good mystery and very spooky. As a kid it terrified me, as an adult, it has me glued to the screen. It’s a little slice of 70s and horror at the same time which is the ultimate combo.

The Shuttered Room (1967): New England, isolated, scary house, repressed memories. This is my very favorite of all the made-for-tv horror movies. It took me years as an adult to find someone selling this movie online. It was not an easy one to get and I just adore it! It scared me like mad as a kid, but because I love lush settings and dark mystery, the woman’s haunted childhood and creepy abandoned house still set up as it was when she was a kid, on an island in New England…makes for a super tense setting. It has Carol Lynley and Gig Young and my favorite mad crush as a kid…Oliver Reed. Yeah, I wasn’t like other girls who liked Keith on “The Partridge Family” and Greg on “The Brady Bunch,” I had crushes on Michael Sarrazin (“The Reincarnation of Peter Proud,” Kirk Douglas, and Oliver Reed. This movie just gives you a creepy New England feel and tension that’s drawn out beautifully, put in a magically creepy and beautiful location, it’s a romantic at heart’s favorite.

Gargoyles (1972): monsters, desert, isolated, nighttime. It’s hard to believe Cornel Wilde was willing to do such a campy film, but I think this is good camp. I am very nostalgic about this movie. It creeped me out as a kid and gave me a horrifying image of the desert. The funny irony is that when I moved to the desert in 77, it was very much like it looked and felt in the film. It’s creepy and tense and the monsters are well done. I had a crush on the lead monster, but then I’ve never had normal crushes… This one is such a classic that you need to see it and you’ll see why a budget 70s made-for-tv movie can be so bad it’s good.

41 comments:

  1. My favourite "obscure" ghostly movie is a Disney film called Child of Glass, made in 1978. It's not too obscure; anyone well-versed in Disney lore would know about it, but most people I ask just blink when I mention watching it as a girl.

    It was about a boy named Alex and a girl named Blossom who solve the mystery of a ghostly girl in an antebellum mansion. The "child of glass" was the ghost-girl's porcelain doll, and they key to the mystery. There was something so sincere about the smoke-and-mirrors special effects that I fell in love with it as a child. I always wanted to be Blossom, the tomboy with a romantic side.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Autumn -I will have to check out 2 of the movies you mentioned and the one Celyn mentioned-I knew the others and agree-old time faves so much better than so much new horror-one that I really liked that no one else I know has (so dont feel bad if you dont either) was called Dont Look Now-I believe it was a 73 release with Donald Sutherland-best to you as always!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Celyn, I recall "Child of Glass" and growing up in an antebellum mansion myself, it used to fascinate me. I remember going into my barn as a child and thinking I'd see her. What a great mention! Now, you make me want to try and find that one too.

    Devin,
    Great mention. I had "Don't Look Now" in my collection and ended up giving it to my best friend because it was her favorite. I'll be covering a lot more movies, so keep watching for new articles. I get into "jags" where I just want only people in staying in the woods horror or beast horror or haunted house horror... I pretty much keep things for every mood and my biggest goal is to get more obscure stuff. I have a lot of the British horror from the 70s. They were pretty classic and I just adore atmosphere. Even the novels I'm writing are very atmospheric. I just love dark moodiness.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great stuff, and under-rated.

    Do any of you know of a "scary" movie or episode in a series around the same time frame (70's). About a woman sculpting a demon out of blood and clay so that may come to life?

    I only have a faint memory of it, but it's a frightening memory. And I can't find reference to it in any searches.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Norliss Tapes has a demon being 'sculpted' (by a dead man), and uses blood in the mix. It comes alive at the end, and the place burns down. I, too, have been searching for one that seems to have a WOMAN sculpting on a worktable, and it too burns down at the end. I'm sure it's two different movies--I bought The Norliss Tapes, and it only halfway satisfied the memory I have. MIGHT be the one you're thinking of (but there still might be another movie that is similar).

      Delete
  5. Peter Proud is also a nostalgic favorite of mine. However, it is not a made-for-TV movie, it actually was a theatrical release. Now if we could only get a DVD, in widescreen!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Jerry;
    You're right! I recall seeing the movie in the 70s on TV and because of the big deal on TV about its release, I assumed it was a TV release, having not heard of it at the theaters. I think he was a way underused actor.

    ReplyDelete
  7. the movie that i saw on tv i need name for it,heres what i remember.a mom and daughter move into a house,the daughter is haunted by the daughter of the owner of home he thinks she ran away but in truth his second wife had killed his daughter because she saw the women kill the girls mom by pushing her off cliff,the guys second wife who was his lover,is a sychiatrist she pretends the new girl is nuts and trys to have the girls mom commit her,but in the end the second wife gets killed by a horse that was the dead daughters horse,and the guy finds out his daughter was murdered.the thing is i cant for the life of me remember the name of this movie but it was good does anyone know the name of it?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Danika;
    That sounds really cool, but I don't know what movie it is. You might try googling "70s movie girl horse" or something like that.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Danika; I believe the movie you are looking for is called buried secrets....it starred Tiffany Amber Theisan

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anyone remember "Midnight Offerings", with the oldest daughter from "Little House on the Prairie"? It hasn't played on tv since, and I can't find it anywhere...

    ReplyDelete
  11. LAtasha;
    Hope this helps--that one was a gem!
    http://www.ioffer.com/i/midnight-offerings-1981-melissa-sue-anderson-175103713?source=eisi

    ReplyDelete
  12. Child of Glass is from the Richard Peck book _The Ghost Belonged To Me_ and has 3 sequels. Ghosts I Have Been, The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp, Blossom Culp and the Sleep of Death. Very good creepy fun. I LOVED them when I was in school.
    As to the movie with the blood in the clay for the demon sculpture, I remember that one too. The Norliss Tapes
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0070458/synopsis

    I also loved Mephisto Waltz, Something Evil with the little boy from Family Affair, and Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark - that one scarred me for life!
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069992/
    To this day I get freaked by stairs in the dark.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Excellent choices! I own Something Evil and it was pretty darned good for TV fare. Don't Be Afraid of the Dark I heard they're redoing, but I'm not at all excited about it. I don't think such a campy concept can be done well and someone is bound to CGI it and that'll suck. I think the most upsetting one to me as a kid was any of those awful witch-hating movies. Something about the mood of them made me feel like I wasn't supposed to be seeing them, like Satan's School for Girls.

    ReplyDelete
  14. looking for name of movie from maybe 1974, young couple buy house, turns out a witch was burned at the stake on the same ground a century before. The husband is away a lot, the witch is of course there messing with her. I recall the end where she was there (with the maid) a cold, stormy night the maid said(dont worry I will stay with you. ( Oh yes, she also had a new baby) well this witch could assume anyones likeness and/or voice. She assumed the housewifes likeness and told the maid "its okay, you can go on home, Im ok." The housewife sees her leave thru a window and is horrified. She is in the bedroom with her child and the witch pursues her and the hinges fly off the door and she steps in saying "give me the baby, GIVE me the baby!" I was about 11, it still scares me! She looked like one of the girls from Charles Manson's "family". The long black hair and her maniacal grin still haunt me. It was on ABC I think, but who knows, maybe 1974-1976? Can anyone help?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you ever find the name of "Give me the Baby" movie. I also saw this when I was about 11 and have been wanting the know the name for years.

      Delete
    2. Nope. Can't find anything on it.

      Delete
    3. Could this one be it? It was the pilot/first episode of a short-lived series called Circle of Fear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yHp1s3FK5U

      Delete
    4. Don't want to answer for Mr. Q, but the youtube link on the previous reply has to be what he's looking for. I remember watching this in 1972 as an eleven year old, and being scared for days after. Just watched it again as a 52 year old and it still scares me. Thanks for posting the link.

      Delete
  15. Mr. Q-I'm pretty sure it was Crowhaven Farm.
    Check and see if this is it -
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDtUtMUpolg

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thx Autumnforest for link, but I'm not sure what made you think of Crow Haven. I have not seen that, but it is nothing like that. This movie takes place in a wealthy, upscale house, not a farm. There is just one entity in the house. What really scared me as a kid was how it could simulate someone else and trick people. Howevee, speaking of farms; have you seen movie called "Lets scare Jessica to death?" It was very, very strange. I recall a dead girl in the lake that would grab your legs. lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am 47 and remember the "give me the baby" too. Also don't remember the title. Scared me to death. My older brother would for years come up behind me and whisper in my ear, "Give Me the baby, give me the baby", real slow. Our parents were out the night we watched this, and it is still the scariest movie I have ever seen. Guess cause I was around 10 or so.

      Delete
  17. Mr. Q I remember the movie you're talking about. I also have been looking for it. I wish I could remember who was in it. Can't remember the title, either.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I would think maybe there is a TV Guide magazine archive. Might take awhile, but maybe could find listings. However, that doen't necessarily help you match title to movie.

    ReplyDelete
  19. http://www.70shorrorfilms.com/
    That site will make it a bit quicker, probably.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I remember a made for tv movie possibly form the early 70's. I think it was part of a british mystery series. This man gets an anonyomus letter to attend a party at a country mansion. He decides to go and when he gets there it is a costume party with a 1920's theme. He falls in love with one of the guests, the place catches fire and at some point he gets knocked. When he awakes the place is ruined, he finds out that the place had indeed burnt down many years before. Anyone remember this movie, it is bugging the heck out of me, can't remember title, did i just dream this, no, but i have never seen it since...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That one doesn't sound familiar, but my first thought would be either the "Thriller" series from the 70s in England or a Hammer film.

      Delete
  21. Hi Autumnforest, thanks for the tip, i checked out thriller UK series, dosen't seem to be one of those, will keep looking around.
    Dave

    ReplyDelete
  22. OMG! Thank you Autumnforest I've been trying to remember the name of my favorite 70's childhood scary movie forever The Shuddered Room! You've just made my day and on Halloween of all days! Now maybe you could help me with two more movies, not sure if they were made in 70's or 60's but they were for sure shown in the 70's.

    The first one is with Shelly Winters and it had a creepy song that I've never forgotten a verse from it "The worms go in the worms go out, in your stomach and out your mouth". It had something to do with a women buried alive in the yard.

    The other movie was so bazaar it really freaked me out as a kid it had a women's head in a glass aquarium (only way I can describe it) that talked and in a locked room where the head was a beast or monster that grabbed the man through the door when he came in to talk to the head. I know this must sound crazy but it was a freaky movie that I saw in the 70's. When ever I try to look it up the movie with the man with two heads comes up and that's not it.

    Oh wait sorry there is one more it might have been late 70's I think it had Carroll O'Connors in it, he had a son that was blind and they had a strained relationship, the only other thing I remember and this is what freaked me out so bad was at the end the blind son brings home his Asian girlfriend and the parents kill them and the very end it shows they're bodies in black trash bags in the garbage can's out front of the house or apartment. Does anyone recall these three movies?

    I loved the 70's this is what I watched as a child and they've stuck with me through out my life, I would love to recapture some of my childhood.

    Another favorite of mine that really got to me as a child was a 1965 movie shown throughout my childhood in the 70's was The Nanny starring Betty Davis. This was my second favorite movie it wasn't made for T.V. if I recall it was a major motion movie I could be wrong.

    Thanks for the help this page is awesome!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first one sounds like PICTURE MOMMY DEAD, but it didn't star Shelley Winters; it starred Zsa Zsa Gabor and Martha Hyer. The second one is undoubtedly THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE, but I have no idea about the third one.

      Here's a link to the full feature of THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN'T DIE:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89XWxhn3pkQ

      Delete
  23. I am wondering if you can help me find a movie made for TV in Britain. In America I saw if on Nickelodeon special delivery. What I remember is that 2 kids went with their mother who took a job as a manager of some property that had burnt down some 100 200 years ago. They were living in the caretakers cottage. Anyways- while exploring the burnt out ruins they ran into 2 ghost children that died. They were told that if they were to travel back in time they had to filter the fountain water - after drinking it they ended up in the past as ghost children themselves while the modern day ghost were alive. only children and adult with child like minds could see them, But the way i remember I think it was set back in the regency era. At the end it turns out the ghost children of the past were the great grandparents of the 2 modern kids. at the end of the movie all the actors said goodbye to the camera. If anyone know the name of this movie I been looking for it for over 20 years. Thank you so much for your help.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the amazing mr blunden with diana dors a classic I caught again on bbc2 last week and it does stand up to the test of time!

      Delete
  24. Anyone remember a late 70s or very early 80s tv movie about a kid who moves into a new house. In the house he accidentially puts a hole in the wall. Inside the hole he finds an old bottle with a ghost's spirit trapped inside. I think the ghost was supposed to be a revolutionary war soldier. I believed I watched the tv movie on a saturday afternoon just following the conclusion of Saturday morning cartoons. Gosh, it's been so long I could be running two different movies together... I think there was somehow a witch involved with a doomsday clock in the basement of the house.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I hope someone can help me with the title of a tv movie; if I remember correctly it was a three part anthology. The first story was about a man and woman running an insurance scam for money and the dead people they used for the scam came back to life. The second was a scientist that lured young college girls to his lake house and fed them to a dinosaur-like creature that lived in the lake. don't remember the third one the other two stuck with me as a child. This would have been mid to late 70's. Any help is appreciated. Thx!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, that one sounds only vaguely familiar. I wish I knew the name. You might try googling 1970s trilogy movies.

      Delete
    2. Found it!! It actually was an Australian horror series that aired here in the states in 1973. It was titled The Evil Touch hosted by Anthony Quayle.

      Delete
  26. A very belated answer to Karen Marino. If you're still hunting for that Shelley Winters movie, any chance it might be THE DEVIL'S DAUGHTER with Jonathan Frid from Dark Shadows? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG_wCgfcHyA My only other guess would be WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HvLdTFQ9RGU

    ReplyDelete
  27. looking for a 70's-ish movie starring elizabeth montgomery and it's about witches, some are burned while others are buried alive... my friend told me about it but could not remember the title... she vividly remembers the person being buried alive with a board being placed upon the grave and that being covered by stones...

    ReplyDelete
  28. Looking for a movie about a little girl and her parents who arrive in a town where the children are all called to a hall in the night and they recite Satanic chants. There was a creepy doll in it too. Been driving me crazy! Thanks~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Brotherhood of Satan, I believe.

      Delete
  29. Best one by far was a spin of of Gavin McCloud the Nightstalker was called "The Dead Don't Die"
    Movie about a Zombie Cult and their Evil Leader Varek. One scene that still gives me the willies is a funeral home and the body sits up and chokes him as he is looking over the casket. To this day when I go to a wake I am still looking to bolt if that bad boy in the box even flinches....... Bought it on eBay a few years back on VHS to face my fears. Very cheesy by todays standards but to a 10 year old boy in 1975 it scared the bejesus outta me.

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...