Children of the 70s: How the Decade Made Us Odd

The 1970s ushered in a whole new love for the paranormal for the first time since the early 20th century spiritualists' movement.  It also was a bleak decade showing that progress wasn't always pretty and sometimes downright evil. This inspired a decade of horror entertainment, serial killers, and the disillusionment of church, educational and governmental institutions.

If you were a "child of the 70s," who are you today was very much determined by the events of that decade and their influences. I hope to show you why and take you on a trip into the dark past....

The Marked Events 

Sexual freedom.
Excessive drug use.
Smoking addictions.
Three-Mile Island.
The ever-present threat of the "Bomb." 
Oil shortages and gas lines.
Middle East hostage situations.
Ineffective presidents.
Soldiers coming home from war.
Financial recession. 

If the 60s were high, the 70s were low.   If the 60s made us break free of tradition and question authority, the 70s made us confused and without guidance.  Many were deep into escaping behaviors, whether it was cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or sex. All of these would result in later complications like addictions, unplanned pregnancies and disease.

There was a general lack of belief in the future, a government that became too bloated and ineffective, environmental concerns, and an economy that was churning in place.  If ever a decade was cursed, the 70s were.  But, how inspiring for some of the most creepy stuff ever!  It formed those of us who grew up in it to not trust authorities, be skeptical of our education's accuracy, dislike growing corporations, and adoring horror films and books, as we cut our teeth on these!


The 1970s started a real boom of excitement about Halloween. Stores began to sell ready-made costumes -

But, sometimes the scariest stuff was homemade - 

There were a lot of worries for the first time in the 70s about "stranger danger" and "tampering" with candy.

The most famous case of actual tampering came from the murder of an 8-year-old named Timothy in the mid 70s, who was actually killed by his father who laced his Pixie Stix with cyanide. And, just as people need to realize, we actually are at more threat by our own family more than strangers (which is why persons of interest are pretty much always a family member--comforting, huh?). This evil man also gave the candy to his daughter and some of her friends, but they hadn’t eaten the candy. This was apparently motivated by an insurance policy on the kid.

A woman named Helen Pfeil in 1964 was tired of older teenagers showing up for free candy so she handed out ant killer poison buttons to those kids. The packages contained steel wool, dog biscuits, and the ant buttons and were marked “poison” and with a skull and crossbones. She told the kids it was a joke and no one was hurt, still she was charged for potential harm. 

This ended up perhaps being the last decade that children were allowed to run wild with pillowcases like hungry pagans on Halloween night. 

Your resulting tendency?  

You don't just love Halloween, you freaking worship it and it depresses you that less and less kids trick or treat anymore. The fever starts for your as summer is closing and the entire month of October is the promiseland of horror movies and decorating, pumpkin carving, and hard cider. You actually enjoy making or wearing costumes and you add to a collection of decorations each year. This is THE holiday for children of the 70s. 

Serial Killers/Criminals

A new apparent hobby for the disillusioned of the 70s was serial killing. The decade birthed a lot of freaks.

John Wayne Gacy:  Sexually assaulted and killed a minimum of 33 boys. This man was a church goer, businessman, respected citizen.  He buried 26 of them in his crawlspace. Does it get creepier? Uh-huh. He was a clown for charity events.

Hillside Stranglers:  Two men who kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed women in California making all women fearful of going out.

Son of Sam:  David Berkowitz used a .44 caliber gun to kill people over a year's time, 6 died in New York. He became known as a lover's lane killer because of the location of many of the victims.

Ted Bundy:  Serial kidnapper, rapist and killer committed 30 killings (by his confession before death) in several states. This wholesome looking man was the last person anyone expected would hit the roads on a killing spree.

Dean Corll:  "The Candy Man." He kidnapped, rape and killed at least 28 boys in Houston and owned a candy factory. 

Gary Gilmore:  This serial killer was put to death by firing squad in Utah. Now, that's seriously bad-ass.  He was then taken to an abandoned cannery behind the prison, which served as its death house. He was strapped to a chair, with a wall of sandbags placed behind him to trap the bullets. Five gunmen, local police officers, stood concealed behind a curtain with five small holes, through which they aimed their rifles. When asked for any last words, Gilmore simply replied, "Let's do it."

Chowchilla Incident:  Men abduct a bus load of children, dig a hole in the ground, drive it down into it and cover it up, asking for ransom. Luckily the bus driver and children got free and the men were caught.

DB Cooper:  This nondescript man, held up an airplane, took the cash, and parachuted out in the Northwest. Many decades later, remains of some of the cash was found and other items, but the man still has not been.

Your resulting tendency?  

Slasher films that began in the 70s and peaked in the 80s are "nostalgic" movies for you. "Halloween" is a cult standard. "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "The Hills Have Eyes," were must-see movies. You both feared the contents of the movies, hid from the gory parts, but still felt compelled to see them as if you were conditioning yourself to handle any situation in a world gone crazy and unpredictable. You still find yourself yelling at the characters in horror movies to tell them what they should be doing to get out of their situation. You have both a cringing fear when you recall things like the Chowchilla hostage situation where children in a school bus were buried underground for ransom and a curiosity about why someone would do this. This reinforced a decade marked by both freaks and geeks. Between the killer next door and tampering with candy, you're just wanting to stay edgy (which will later usher in your obsession for zombies in the early 2000s).

Horror/Supernatural TV and Movies

The 1970s TV was filled with so many shows and movies with occult/horror/supernatural themes that it was hard to decide what to see on which night. Added onto that were blockbuster horror movies at the theater for perhaps the first time with longer lines than traditional release movies. It was all about the next thrill, and the next, and the next....

Kolchak: The Night Stalker  - This quirky TV series had us believing that it would be entirely possible for some newsman somewhere to be running into X-Files-like paranormal cases and a world that was not ready to accept the reality.