Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1974
1974’s films are evenly spread across four countries with three titles for the U.S. two for the UK, two for the Italians and two for Canada. Also in the mix is a film from a Spanish director spoken in Italian and made in the UK. Still to see from the year; Francesco Barilli’s The Perfume Of The Lady In Black, Sergio Grieco’s The Sinful Nuns Of St Valentine, Paul Maslansky’s Sugar Hill, Horror-porn crossover (it doesn’t list the director on IMDB) Hardgore, Harry Kümel’s Malpertuis, William Girdler’s Abby, Giuseppe Bennati’s The Killer Reserved Nine Seats and León Klimovsky’s A Dragonfly For Each Corpse.
Here’s what made the shortlist: House Of Whipcord, Phantom Of The Paradise, The Night Andy Came Home, Phase IV, The Cars That Ate Paris, Lisa And The Devil, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Flavia The Heretic, From Beyond The Grave, Madhouse, The Tempter, Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, Silent Night Bloody Night, The Beast Must Die, Dracula’s Virgin Lovers, Son Of Dracula, Curse Of The Living Dead, Scum Of The Earth
Directed By: Umberto Lenzi
The mannequin is one of my all-time favourite props! This isn’t the first Giallo to use mannequins but very few use them as prominently as Spasmo. Mannequins are found hanging from nooses, lying on the ground bloodied, occasionally with a knife stuck in it, and always in varied states of undress. You will wonder often what the hell the relevance of the mannequins is and you will be rewarded! The dubbed dialog is problematic and it does have a bit of a slow start but it gains momentum as it moves along. Spasmo has moments of brilliance and the last quarter of the film is fantastic! A great reveal, an exciting finale and a couple of awesome surprise twists makes Umberto Lenzi’s Spasmo a real treat! To read my full review click here.
#9 IT’S ALIVE
Directed By: Larry Cohen
It’s Alive is about a fanged and clawed 10 lb killer baby. What might have caused such a hideous mutation? Smog? Lead? Prescription drugs? The film manages to be quite intense considering how absurd the premise is. The score is excellent and helps considerably with the mood. John Ryan does a top notch job playing a father who is completely losing it. Sharon Farrell is also quite good as the quirky and often dazed mother of the beast. Several people die courtesy of junior. Although most of the killing is off screen, there are definitely effective sequences that are both freaky and funny. One of my favourites is a scene involving a milk truck. Milk is good for growing bodies you know! It’s Alive, is not without its flaws, but is nonetheless damn fine entertainment. To read my full review click here.
#8 BLOOD FOR DRACULA
Directed By: Paul Morrissey
Paul Morrissey’s Blood for Dracula has the sex, nudity, camp and humour I’ve come to expect from a Morrisey flick but with a stylish European flare. Udo Kier is a great vampire with those intensely piercing eyes. He is also one of the sickliest vampires ever caught on film. The Count’s health is failing badly and he is in desperate need of virgin’s blood. Damn elusive virgins! Master and servant pack up the coffin and head to a more virgin-heavy country. Luck seems to be smiling on them when they meet a poor man with four unmarried daughters. Unfortunately the family handyman is nailing more than just two by fours. Hi-jinx ensues! Blood, gore, sex and nudity that is decadently over-the-top!
#7 BLACK CHRISTMAS
Directed By: Bob Clark
Black Christmas takes place in a Sorority house not long before Christmas break. Sexually deviant phone calls and murder most fowl threaten to keep the women from their turkey dinners. The cast are great and the wintery holiday setting is top notch. I am particularly fond of the shots from the killer’s perspective through cracks, closets and other cramped spaces. It has some decent suspense and moments of intensity that work well. Humour and commentary are well balanced with the horror elements. Black Christmas is an enjoyable little Canadian made romp.
#6 CAPTAIN KRONOS VAMPIRE HUNTER
Directed By: Brian Clemens
The titular vampire hunter is younger, cockier, and more athletic than the standard vamp hunter of previous films. Captain Kronos is a throbbing bundle of testosterone and charm. He’s a ladies man and a superstar hero capable of feats both small and large. Along for the ride is his sidekick Professor Gratz and beautiful gypsy Carla. Director Brian Clemens brings a fresh vibe to the vampire tale and packs in plenty of humour and fun action sequences. The sets are great, which is no surprise considering this is a Hammer Film. Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter is just a shitload of fun!
Directed By: Pete Walker
I always enjoy Pete Walker regular Sheila Keith but she is particularly enjoyable in Frightmare as the mentally unstable, cannibalistic Dorthy Yates. Keith goes back and forth between fragile and confused to completely deranged. When I use the word fragile, I am specifically speaking of her state of mind. The woman’s appearance is actually quite intimidating. Rupert Davies was also excellent as the manic husband, Edmund Yates. Davies gives a real hand-wringing performance as the man who loves but fears his wife. The atmosphere and mood is excellent. The suitably dreary farmhouse where Dorothy and Edmund Yates reside is the epitome of bleak. The perfect setting for late night visits to deliver mysterious packages or having your tarot cards read! Frightmare is a rock solid flick with a wicked finale worth sticking around for! To read the full review click here.
#4 WHAT HAVE THEY DONE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS?
Directed By: Massimo Dallamano
What Have They Done To Your Daughters? is Massimo Dallamano’s second film to make one of my top ten lists. Like the similarly named What Have They Done To Solange?, Daughters has a teenage girl in peril theme. This one is even more biting with a prostitution ring plot and a black leather clad motorbike-riding, hatchet-wielding killer! it is equal parts cop drama and classic Giallo and it works beautifully. There are great twists, excellent action sequences and an intriguing plot delivered with great style. A rewarding Giallo with some unique touches that make for a memorable experience worth repeat viewings.
Directed By: Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby
Deranged is one of two films in the top five inspired by the antics of that infamous collector of dead things, Ed Gein. This well-made, nasty and intelligent film hails from the motherland. Canada has contributed some real gems to the horror genre and Deranged ranks high amoung them. Ezra Cobb is a farmer caring for his fanatically religious and abusive bed-ridden mother. A broken man who falls apart completely when the hag finally dies. In fact, Ezra misses the mental beatings so much he decides to dig mama up to keep him company. It’s not long before his actions escalate to murder. Robert Blossom is excellent as Ezra Cobb and manages to bring a little empathy to a character whose actions are downright disturbing. The film has a bleak and oppressive look and feel that suits it perfectly. Deranged is just an all around outstanding little horror film.
#2 LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE
Directed By: Jorge Grau
There were only a smattering of zombie films up to 1974 but I think Let Sleeping Corpses Lie was one of the first of the more graphically violent variety. The effects were done by the great Giannetto De Rossi who also worked his magic for Fulci’s Zombi 2 and The Beyond. I applaud its gore, but it is also a very atmospheric film with a ton of style. After backing over a motorbike at a gas station Edna finds herself saddled with its owner George. The two get lost and the zombie mayhem begins! The English countryside is the perfect setting and Ray Lovelock and Christine Galbo are both quite enjoyable. Jorge Grau’s Let Sleeping Corpses Lie is an outstanding zombie film and one of my favourite horror films of all time!
#1 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a fresh and original concept back in 1974. Hooper’s film about a family of cannibal psychos was gritty, depraved, and graphically violent. When I think of films that really rocked my world growing up this is always the first film I think of. I went from Hammer films and monster flicks to this craziness and it completely changed the way I looked at horror. The sense of dread is thick as mud and the brutality is unapologetic. You get an uneasy feeling from the first frame that continually escalates throughout to its bleak finale. Leatherface’s imposing stature, skin mask and chainsaw haunted me long after that first viewing. The cattle like nature in which the family dispatches their victims is disturbing but apt enough considering they will later be used as food and furnishings. The Horror films of the 70’s were already becoming more graphic and directors continued to explore the limits of what was acceptable. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre upped the ante and made an undeniable impression on the genre.