Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1979
This is it folks, the very last year of the decade! 1979 has some real heavy hitters and the top five are all solid horror films I love. The six, seven and eight spots are strong entries also but I really had to reach to find a ninth and tenth. I’ve one film I must see from 1979; Jean Rollin’s Fascination. Here’s what made the shortlist: When a Stranger Calls, Prophecy, Thirst, Killer Nun, Savage Weekend.
#10 THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
Directed By: Stuart Rosenberg
I rated The Amityville Horror 3/5 which would hardly constitute a “favourite”. It was definitely the best of what I had to choose from though. The Amityville Horror seems to request I take it seriously which makes me question the inclusion of a pig with glowing eyes. That pig made me laugh even when I was a kid. It’s not all bad. I quite liked Rod Sterling as Father Delaney. His scene inside the Amityville house is one of the films best. Father Delaney lives through his experience but becomes a broken man. The film however is about George and Kathy Lutz who along with their children move into a gorgeous but impossibly cheap waterfront home. The house it turns out was the scene of a grisly murder. Margot Kidder and James Brolin play the couple and do a decent job. But the lack of character development left me questioning their actions often. There are a lot of things left rather “vague” in this film. There’s not much to say about the effects which mostly consist of buckets of blood and some pesky flies. The finale is energetic but pretty damn silly. I can’t say I take The Amityville Horror very seriously but it is kinda fun.
Directed By: John Badham
Dracula is the other pick I rated 3/5 that I’m none too excited to be including on a favourite’s list. That said, I liked Frank Langella in the titular role. Langella plays it suave with a touch of arrogance, mystery and sexuality. His performance is the film’s best asset. The John Williams score is also quite respectable. This Dracula entry is a bit sterile and terribly conservative and it really doesn’t bring much new to the table. Romantic versions of the Dracula tale never really do it for me personally. That said, it is a pretty nice looking film with some neat sets and a few well-executed scenes that are effective. Dracula is watchable enough and a great performance from Langella makes it worth a viewing (but you might want to wait until it turns up on TV).
#8 BUIO OMEGA
Directed By: Joe D’Amato
Buio Omega (Beyond The Darkness) is sleazy, creepy and one of the few films from Joe D’Amato I actually really like. D’Amato directed a lot of adult films over his career, although I must admit, the only ones I’ve seen are a few of the porn/horror crossovers. The director really only has a handful of films that are straight-up horror and tend to be uneventful lethargic affairs with one or two memorable scenes of gore. Buio Omega does in fact have a slow start but the set-up does provide some sense of what is about to occur, sort of. This film is a love story as only D’Amato could deliver. A man is so wrought with despair over the recent passing of his girlfriend that he decides to dig her up so she can be with him forever. His grief also invokes an urge to kill random women. Fortunately he has help from his housekeeper who is actually more messed up than he is. The relationship between these two is bananas, absolute nuttiness and a pretty damn entertaining watch. When things get rolling there is plenty of action with some very nasty and graphic gore that looked pretty convincing. Buio Omega is Italian Style raunchy and gory fun!
#7 MURDER BY DECREE
Directed By: Bob Clark
I’m a bit of a sucker for a Sherlock Holmes film and in Murder By Decree Christopher Plummer is outstanding in this role. Dare I say, this version of Holmes is the most endearing of the lot. What allows me to include Murder By Decree on a favourite “horror” list is this particular version sees Holmes investigating the White Chapel Murders. The true unsolved White Chapel murders, aka Jack The Ripper murders, have been a popular subject of film over the years. Murder By Decree is one of the best of the bunch and is a smart and engrossing account of the grisly case. The endless dark alleyways, foggy cobble-stone streets and the seedy and depressing east end are all very impressive. It is quite a lavish ordeal full of hordes of extras dressed in their Victorian garb. Admittedly light on horror, Murder By Decree is an extremely well made film with excellent performances that is seriously entertaining.
#6 TOURIST TRAP
Directed By: David Schmoeller
The film’s titular tourist trap is a raggedy looking wax museum littered with mannequins and various oddities. Tourist Trap’s lively first murder uses its props to great effect. In fact, the props are used to great effect throughout the entire film! It isn’t a House of Wax rip-off, although it does borrow bits and pieces from a few other horror flicks that came before it. David Schmoeller throws in everything but the kitchen sink along with his eerie wax figures, including some weird masks, telekinetic abilities and mixes in a liberal helping of slasher and just a pinch of camp. Chuck Connors brings the perfect amount of crazy to his role as the Museums proprietor Mr. Slausen. Chuck Connors is definitely the highlight although the support isn’t bad, particularly Jocelyne Jones who plays Molly. Tourist Trap has some over-the-top campy moments and yet succeeds at being chilling and the exciting finale clinches it. Tourist Trap is a great underrated horror film that manages to be wacky fun and pretty damn creepy.
#5 NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE
Directed By: Werner Herzog
I mentioned in my 1978 post that I generally avoid remakes and here I am adding another one to the list. I hadn’t seen Nosferatu The Vampyre in years until recently and was completely blown away. Werner Herzog’s rivals F.W. Murnau’s 1922 version. It may borrow some elements from the 1922 version but Herzog’s vision makes it a unique experience that works more like a companion piece rather than a re-make. The film’s visuals are stunning and the sets are absolutely fantastic. It’s one of the most impressive period pieces I’ve seen. Using a real castle does help your cause but the plague rats were an extra special touch. The performances are as mesmerizing as its visuals. Klaus Kinski’s count is pained by his existence on this mortal coil and equally impelled to survive it. There is some humanity lingering but you will never forget he is Vampyre. Kinski’s performance is pure brilliance. The beautiful Isabelle Adjani is haunting as Lucy and Bruno Ganz brings considerable empathy to the Jonathan Harker role. Nosferatu The Vampyre is beautiful and haunting and is one of the best vampire films I have ever seen.
Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Phantasm is one of horror’s most unique visions. Phantasm is an original surreal bit of horror cinema that was quite unlike anything that had been made at the time. Phantasm’s story begins with Mike, whilst spying on his older brother at a funeral sees a tall unusual looking man pick up a coffin on his own and put it in the back of a hearse. This is only the beginning of the strangeness and things get real dream-like (or nightmare-like if you prefer) once we enter the creepy, quirky and mysterious world of the Tall Man. It includes elements not just of the horrific kind but the fantastical. Coscarelli certainly makes the most of his limited budget with excellent sets, props and creative effects that make for some truly imaginative visuals. Phantasm is illogical, surreal, eerie and a shitload of fun! Phantasm is an engrossing nightmare from my childhood that stills rocks my world!
#3 ZOMBI 2
Directed By: Lucio Fulci
Zombi 2 without a doubt has some of the most vial and disgusting looking zombies to grace a genre film. Admittedly it is light on story, but visually it is an extravaganza! Fulci’s zombies are covered in rotted flesh, worms and maggots. I absolutely love when victims are fighting for their life and in the process end up with some of the zombie’s rotted flesh in their hand. Nice touch! Zombi 2 is also one of the few films where you see zombies under water. Why in the hell don’t I see more zombies under water? They are dead after all, so breathing isn’t an issue! There is a scene featuring a zombie attacking a shark that is not to be missed! I am a big fan of 70’s soundtracks and Fabio Frizzi’s excellent score really helps build the sense of dread. The film clocks in around 90 minutes and really doesn’t have much in the way of downtime. There’s action at regular intervals and of course the finale is jammed packed with zombie madness! If you love gore, carnage and you like your zombies really, really, really gross and disgusting you will probably love Zombi 2 as much as I do.
#2 THE BROOD
Directed By: David Cronenberg
The Brood hints from the start that something is not quite right. When Frank finds bruises on his five-year-old daughter after picking her up from a weekend visit with mom, we get our first hint of the horror to come. The Brood is well paced and its steadily building tension is mucho effective. There isn’t a ton of violence but what there is certainly leaves an impression. The climax is one of the greatest horror moments of all time! It’s a visual assault even after multiple viewings! The effects are great and the makeup on the mutant children is very creepy. From the back or a distance the mutant tikes blend in nicely bundled in their winter snowsuits. Cronenberg has a way of making the impossible seem horribly possible and The Brood is a perfect example. The minds power over the body is a fascinating topic, which Cronenberg takes to a whole new frightening level with his Psychoplasmics. Harnessing negative emotion and creating something physical may seem absurd but it is completely believable in Cronenberg’s world. The Brood is full of anger, bitterness and trauma with some seriously ass kicking final scenes that will stay with you long after you’ve turned off the DVD player.
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Alien is an impressive film visually. The sterile, cavernous, maze-like ship is a spectacular setting for our seven unfortunate crew members. The alien’s entry on the ship via the chest cavity of one of the aforementioned crew members is just awesome. The ugly, fleshy little creature is simply a nuisance in comparison to what they will eventually contend with. The effects, particularly the creatures really are exceptional. Alien’s slick visuals compliment an intriguing action packed plot, an outstanding score, interesting and realistic characters, excellent performances, and a shitload of intensity and thrills. Alien in an outstanding example of a flawless union of Science Fiction and horror that few can rival. The film spawned an avalanche of imitators whom to this day have so rarely matched the visuals and intensity of this film. Alien is an all time favourite that is exciting, wholly entertaining and as impressive today as it ever was.