Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1977

1977 was definitely an interesting year for horror and I think one of the best of the decade. It features three of my top 100 favourite horror films of all time! The entire top five are films I rated 5/5! Up to this point the only other year of the decade that has managed this feat is 1973. Just two years of the decade remain! I apologize for the delay in getting up this particular list. I was in a real quandary over what to pick for the three remaining years of the decade and I decided to watch (or re-watch) several titles. Stay tuned, I will have 1978 and 1979 posted by the end of next week! Still to see from 1977: Jesus Franco’s Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun, Francesco Barilli’s Pensione Paura, Antonio Bido’s The Cat’s Victims, Enzo G. Castellari’s The Big Racket, Maurizio Pradeaux’s Death Steps in the Dark, Yoshitaro Nomura’s Village of the Eight Tombs.

Here’s what made the shortlist: The Car, The Child, Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, The Sentinel, Shock, Axe, Demon Seed, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Rituals, The Uncanny, Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals, Holocaust 2000, Whiskey Mountain

Directed By: Tobe Hooper

Eaten Alive is a trashy, exploitative horror film full of gratuitous nudity and violence. The bleak and ugly sets, particularly the dilapidated motel seemed like the only possible setting for the film. Judd, the insane owner of a seedy motel is feeding his guests to his pet crocodile. Not just any crocodile but one of cinema’s crappiest and funniest looking crocodiles ever! The real highlight here is Judd himself. Neville Brand gives one of my all-time favourite over-the-top B-Movie performances in this film. All the performances are a hoot, including Mel Ferrer, Marilyn Burns, Robert Englund and Carolyn Jones. Eaten Alive is a sleazy bit of celluloid I find rather entertaining.

Directed By: Ken Wiederhorn

Shock Waves has a ghost ship full of undead SS Soldiers, Peter Cushing and John Carradine. That was more than enough to get my attention! The zombies aren’t gory, but rather terribly wrinkled and each sports a pair of goggles. These zombies are partial to hanging out in water. There are a ton of cool shots of the undead submerged and rising up from the waters surface that are mandatory viewing. Sadly lacking entrails, these guys prefer to drown their victims. Shock Waves has a great mood, impressive visuals and strong performances from the likable Brooke Adams and the two aforementioned icons Cushing and Carradine. The pace is a bit slower than some might like, but it sure didn’t mess with my enjoyment of Shock Waves which is a creepy and fun little zombie flick.

Directed By: Wes Craven

The aptly named The Hills Have Eyes is a gritty film full of violence and brutality. Its story, simply put, is about a family whose vehicle breaks down on a road trip and is then terrorized by a gang of inbred psychos. Its great remote desert location with its inhospitable landscape makes for the perfect setting. The build-up of tension particularly before the first attack is impressive. When the film gets going it is an all out assault to its abrupt ending. Wes Craven takes the time to give his characters some personality and the performances are actually pretty good. Like his film The Last House On The Left he puts normal people in abnormal and horrific situations pushing the limits of what they are capable of if pushed too far. The Hills Have Eyes is a tight little horror film that delivers the gruesome goods.

Directed By: Lucio Fulci

The Psychic is Lucio Fulci’s third film to appear on one of my 70’s lists. Like his prior two entries A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Don’t Torture A Duckling this giallo is one of Fulci’s more restrained efforts. All three of these films have intriguing stories full of suspense and mystery but contain very little of the gore and violence Fulci would become known for. The Psychic focuses on clairvoyant Virginia whose visions lead to the discovery of the skeletal remains of a woman behind a wall in her husband’s home. Through the course of the film Virginia attempts to uncover the secret behind what happened to the woman. Jennifer O’Neill is well cast as Virginia Ducci and is a strong and likable lead. A nice mood and setting and a great soundtrack compliment the engrossing puzzle that keeps you guessing to the end. Another solid entry from Mr. Fulci and I don’t think it will be his last for the decade.

Directed By: Pasquale Festa Campanile

Hitch-Hike is a difficult film to classify. Hell, IMDB lists it as adventure/crime/drama/horror/thriller! I don’t know about the “adventure” descriptor, but it does have its share of exploitative elements, violence and suspense. There is a fistfight, nudity, rape, shooting and at the end of it all there is a small but significant body count. None of this however is particularly graphic but it certainly is effective. There are some cool twists in the plot and the ending is absolutely superb! An awesome score from the brilliant Ennio Morricone hits all the right notes. Hitch-Hike is considerably more intelligent than your average exploitation flick. Top-notch performances, smart dialog, suspense, intensity and just the right amount of sleaze make it all work beautifully. To read the full review click here.

Directed By: George A. Romero

Martin is George Romero’s vampire film with a twist. The character driven story focuses on its titular character Martin, an introverted teenager who believes he is an ancient vampire. Martin is played beautifully by John Amplas who brings empathy and realism to the role. It’s atmospheric, stylish and well-paced and offers its share of suspense and thrills. Martin is a clever, well-executed contribution to the vampire genre and one of Romero’s best films.

Directed By: David Cronenberg

Rabid is David Cronenberg’s second contribution to my favourite films of the 70’s. It stars gorgeous Marilyn Chambers who has an experimental surgery after a motorcycle accident and wakes up with a taste for blood that turns deadly. Cronenberg continues his body-horror theme and inserts his brand of social and political commentary into the mix. Ms. Chambers character develops this ugly ass mutation in her armpit which is the cause of hers and many others woes. There is significant nudity and violence and a hearty body count with some imaginative and well executed scenes of horror. The make-up and effects in general is top notch and Cronenberg certainly knows how to set a mood with a great gritty and intense atmosphere. Rabid is a sexy, well-made horror film and one of several reasons I am a big fan of David Cronenberg.

Directed By: David Lynch

What an ugly environment David Lynch creates for his poor unfortunate Henry, an abrasive and chaotic world full of noisy, dirty factories spewing garbage into the air, screaming mutant babies and psychotic significant others. Eraserhead is harried, bleak and horrific and is overflowing with countless unforgettable images. The black and white visuals are simply striking and unique and Jack Nance is superb as the distracted, awkward but empathetic Henry. Who the fuck wouldn’t want to run screaming from Henry’s world?! Bloody hell! David Lynch’s Eraserhead is a wonderfully weird, disturbing, and visceral experience.

Directed By: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi

Sadly, my first viewing of Hausu was only one week ago! I loved it so much I immediately ordered it from Criterion after watching a rental copy. I’ve never seen a film quite like Hausu. It’s absolutely spectacular eye candy with its painted backdrops and wacky and colourful visuals. The film is lively, fun and fast-paced with wonderfully wicked and creative deaths. Seven Japanese school girls spend their vacation at the home of Gorgeous’ wheel-chair bound aunt with dire results. The seven characters in the film are known only by their nicknames which describes their dominant character trait. Kung-Fu (the blackbelt), Fantasy (the dreamer), Prof (the brainiac), Mac (the eater), Melody (the musician), Sweetie (the nice girl) and Gorgeous (the primper). It wasn’t surprising to learn from the features that most of the films ideas came from the mind of the director’s ten year old daughter. The film has a child-like enthusiasm that is extremely appealing. Hausu is a really beautiful; entertaining film and one of the most unique I have ever seen. I cannot wait to get my copy of Hausu so I can watch it again soon!

Directed By: Dario Argento

Suspiria is Dario Argento’s third film to make one of my 70’s list and his second in the number one slot. Suspiria Without a doubt is one of the most beautiful horror films ever made! Much has been said about Argento’s use of color which I won’t beat to death, other than to say, the film is truly a stunning nightmare! There is a feeling of unease established from the moment Suzy Bannion arrives at the Ballet school that doesn’t let up until the final Credits. Its beauty is quite remarkable but is only one of its impressive qualities. Suspiria is claustrophobic, intense, suspenseful, thrilling and features some very impressive murder sequences! The film almost has an adult fairy tale feel and the impressive setting and props add a whimsical and yet terrifying sense of dread. The utterly fantastic soundtrack from Goblin is yet another bonus. Performances are excellent across the board from Jessica Harper who plays Suzy, Stefania Casini who plays her friend Sara and great turns from classic actresses Alida Valli as Miss Tanner and Joan Bennett as Madame Blanc. Suspiria is one of Dario Argento’s best and one of my favourite horror films of all time. PERFECTION.

7 Responses to “Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1977”

  1. Not heard of Hausu but it sounds fascinating from your write-up.

    Most of the others I have seen but I must check out Hitch-Hike. The Hills Have Eyes is one of my favourites – love the isolation of it all and how the family resorts to the primal instincts of the inbreds to fight back.

    Martin is another great film. I like non-traditional vampire movies where the gothic traditions of Dracula are almost entirely missing (NB. that does not mean I’m a fan of Twilight though!)

    Suspiria is one of those films I’ve always felt had a lot of style and a little less substance but there are some fantastic sequences. The ending is devastatingly effective.

    • Hausu was brilliant! My Japanese horror film knowledge pre-80’s is very limited. I clearly have much to check out! Hausu is quirky and probably a little weird for some taste’s but man did I freaking love it!

      Hitch-hike features 3 pretty unlikable leads which I think is part of its charm. The married couple are almost as unlikable as the bad guy (played by Hess of course). Think of a sleazy, intense and humourless version of THE REF (the 70’s “road trip” edition). Okay, it is nothing whatsoever like THE REF, but it is that sort of setup…kinda.

      You wouldn’t be alone in your assessment of Suspiria being style over substance. In fact, that very thing has been said about Argento’s entire body of work. I’m all about the style though. Visuals can make or break a film for me. Music, mood and creative death are imperative. Argento has these things in spades in these early films. I could watch this one (and in fact…I have!) without the sound and still enjoy it! The story isn’t earth shattering by any means, but it does provide an adequate launch pad for a beautiful and visceral experience!

  2. 1977 was an amazing year. Your top 3 movies were all “Certified Weird” at my site and I consider them all classics! Personally I’ve never thought of ERASERHEAD as a horror film, though; I think it gets put in that box because people don’t know where else to fit it in.

    • I love this year! Admittedly, Eraserhead is borderline as horror but it does have a nightmarish quality that the horror part of my brain finds very appealing. Eraserhead wouldn’t be the first film I’ve included on one of my favourite lists that defies classification.

  3. Anyone who know about a horror movie in 1976 or 1977 which there was a deathpendel who hang from the roof and killed people strapped to a table?? I can`t find it anywhere… I saw it in a theatre in one of those years. Long time ago…
    Mariann from Norway

  4. […] and if it didn’t have gore I was not very interested. When I re-watched The Psychic for my 1977 top ten list I was suitably impressed with the film and gave it the number seven spot in the top ten for a very […]

  5. […] Gore Girls’ top horror movies from 1977 […]

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