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.