(Post) Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (1970-1979)

Though past Halloween, I’m still thinking about chillers, thrillers, magic, and things that go bump in the night… Continuing with a list of movies I love that contain elements of occult, fantasy, horror, sci-fi (or any combination thereof), here’s my compilation from the 1970’s.

Remember, super-favorites are highlighted in RED with Diego noting those starring fab Felines.

Alien Diego's pick
What can I say here that hasn’t already been said, or that people don’t already know…
I remember a morning news show where they were commenting how the imagery in Alien was like nothing ever seen before – that mix of biological and mechanical that would become H. R. Giger‘s tradmark “biomechanics”. It raised sci-fi horror to an unprecidented level and won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Alien is considered one of the greatest films of all time and its influence on the genre can still be seen today.
Sigourney Weaver continued to reprise her role as Ellen Ripley in the subsequent three sequels.
I was personally mesmerized by the xenomorph itself – so much so that I crafted an Alien head from styrofoam and wore it for Halloween that year.
Blood for Dracula
Also known as Andy Warhol’s Dracula, this is a campy renditon that paints Count Dracula (Udo Kier) as a sick and dying vampire who can only survive on the blood of virgins and travels to Italy in the hopes of finding suitable prey (Italy being predominantly Catholic). Directed by Paul Morrissey (Flesh for Frankenstein) and produced by Carlo Ponti (husband of Sophia Loren), the original release was rated X.
Along with Kier (Shadow of the Vampire, Blade, BloodRayne, Flesh for Frankenstein), Blood for Dracula stars Morrissey-regular Joe Dallesandro (Flesh for Frankenstein), Vittorio de Sica, and an uncredited Roman Polański (Rosemary’s Baby).
Directed by Brian De Palma, this is a coming-of-age bit of horror that ties telekinesis with the onset of menstruation, Carrie was the first film adaptation of a Stephen King novel. (One of the first movies I can remember that shows extreme cruelty among high school girls. Payback’s a bitch, too.) Sissy Spacek shines as the ugly-duckling-turned-prom-queen.
Co-stars Piper Laurie, Army Irving, William Katt, Betty Buckley, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, 1980s-movie-regular P. J. Soles, Priscilla Pointer, and Edie McClurg.
Trivia Time:
Nancy Allen went on to become Mrs. De Palma.
Dawn of the Dead
George A. Romero‘s sequel to Night of the Living Dead (which he also directed). A great bit of social satire and a commentary on consumerism, as it takes place in a large shopping mall:
“They don’t know why, they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here.”  link
My favorite in the series, Dawn of the Dead was written by Romero and Dario Argento – who, along with The Goblins, also composed the score. Tom Savini (Innocent Blood) has a bit part. Or is that a “bite” part…
Frank Langella plays the Count with a decidedly romantic flourish. The cast includes some stellar actors besides Langella:  Laurence Olivier and Donald Pleasence.

John Badham directed. Score composed by the inimitable John Williams (The Witches of Eastwick).
Flesh for Frankenstein
Paul Morrissey‘s complement to Blood for Dracula, this film was also given an X rating due to explicit sexuality and violence (disembowelment). One uncomfortable, over-the-top scene involves “sexual exploits” with a female creation. Shocking when it was released, it’s tame by today’s standards but still a hoot. Also known as Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein, it’s loosely-based on Mary Shelley‘s novel and stars Joe Dallesandro (Blood for Dracula), Udo Kier (Shadow of the Vampire, Blade, BloodRayne, Blood for Dracula), and Monique van Vooren.
It’s Alive! Diego's pick
This one still messes me up… A monstrously mutant baby runs amok killing everyone in sight. John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, Guy Stockwell, and Michael Ansara star. Oscar-winning Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Wolf, 2010s The Wolfman, Maleficent) did the makeup and puppet effects.
“…expound on the dangers of various prescription drugs administered to expectant mothers during the 1950s and early 1960s (i.e. Thalidomide), the use of fertility drugs, and the indirect use of pesticides on people.” (Wikipedia)
Love at First Bite Diego's pick
In this romantic comedy, Count Dracula (George Hamilton) is suave, debonair, and tanned (!). Accompanied by his servant, Renfield (Arte Johnson), the vampire decides to take a bite out of the Big Apple. While taking in the sights (blood banks, nightclubs, etc.) he pursues Cindy Sondheim (Susan Saint James), a high-fashion model who’s the spitting image of the Count’s long-lost true love. Meanwhile, Ms. Sondheim’s psychiatrist/boyfriend, Jeffrey Rosenberg (Richard Benjamin), has discovered the Count’s true identity. Being the grandson of the famous vampire hunter, van Helsing, Rosenberg (!) pursues Dracula with maniacal fervor. Nice cameos by Dick Shawn, Isabel Sanford, and Sherman Hemsley.
On the DVD the song used during the disco scene (“I Love the Nightlife”) was replaced – for unknown reasons – by a really, really lame-ass song. (Having recorded Love at First Bite directly from cable, I am fortunate to possess the original version.)
The Mephisto Waltz
Shot along the Pacific coast of California, it stars Alan Alda, Jacqueline Bisset, Barbara Parkins, Bradford Dillman, William Windom, and Curd Jurgens.

I wrote an article on The Mephisto Waltz earlier this year.

Trivia Time:
The title is taken from the piano work by Franz Liszt:  Mephisto Waltzes.

Mutations due to environmental pollution from a paper mill, specifically mercury which is used in logging as a fungicide. Throw-in Native American activists, an agent from the EPA, his pregnant wife, and rampaging deformed animals. The effects are quite dated, but at the time they were effectively scary. Prophecy was directed by John Frankenheimer (The Island of Dr. Moreau) and stars Robert Foxworth, Talia Shire, Armand Assante, and Kevin Peter Hall (Predator, Predator 2).
Directed by David Cronenberg (Nightbreed, The Fly). It’s a vampire film Cronenberg-style starring the infamous Marilyn Chambers. Although Rabid was released prior to the 80’s AIDS epidemic, the reference to sexually-transmitted diseases is apparent.
“Chambers plays a woman who, after being injured in a motorcycle accident and undergoing a surgical operation, develops an orifice under one of her armpits. The orifice hides a phallic stinger that she uses to feed on people’s blood. Soon, those she feeds upon become infected, whose bite spreads the disease and soon causes massive chaos starting with Quebec and ending up in Montreal.” (Wikipedia)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show

It’s just a jump to the left…

This cult classic is based on the 1973 stage show whose music, lyrics, and story were written by Richard O’Brien. The film’s screenplay was also penned by O’Brien (who plays Riff Raff). The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to pre-1970’s horror and sci-fi B movies. It’s a wildly fun ride that still boasts midnight showings around the country and has a global following. (Wikipedia)
Tim Curry (as a lusciously-seductive transvestite) is supported by an equally-great cast:  Susan Sarandon (The Hunger), Barry Bostwick, O’Brien, and Charles Gray. Plus a cameo by Meat Loaf:

Trivia Time:
In addition to O’Brien and Curry, Little Nell (Columbia), and Patricia Quinn (Magenta) were also in the original stage production.
The first time I saw Rocky Horror was on a blind date. Not knowing anything about the film, we went totally unprepared for the active participation of everyone in the theater. I thought it was some sort of dress rehearsal… After seeing Tim Curry (Dr. Frank N. Furter) I was hooked for life and even attended several late-night screenings.
The movie and audience participation were featured in Fame (1980).

The Sentinel Diego's pick
What the critics hate, I often love. This little slice of horror centers around a Brooklyn apartment building that’s really a gateway to Hell. There are some parts that’ll make you uncomfortable (the masterbation scene) and others that are disturbingly comical (“Black and white cat, black and white cake.”).

The Sentinel stars Chris Sarandon (Fright Night), Cristina Raines, Martin Balsam, John Carradine (Bride of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein), José Ferrer, Sylvia Miles, Beverly D’Angelo, Ava Gardner, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken (Batman Returns, Sleepy Hollow), Jerry Orbach, Tom Berenger, Jeff Goldblum (The Fly), a wickedly impish Burgess Meredith, and a cast of real-life “freaks” playing Hell’s demon spawn.

My favorite (Halloween) films from 1950-1959
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1960-1969
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1970-1979
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1980-1989
My favorite (Halloween) films from 1990-1999
My favorite (Halloween) films from 2000-2009
My favorite (Halloween) films from 2010-2017

ℳ –

Countdown to Halloween: My Favorite Films (1990-1999)

Aaah…my favorite holiday is just days away. I’ve been listening to Halloween Radio (Stay tuned for some 80’s Blasts, Halloween-style) and the songs they’ve been playing had me reminiscing about chillers, thrillers, magic, and things that go bump in the night…

So, I compiled a list of all the movies I especially like/love that contain elements of occult, fantasy, horror, sci-fi – or any combination thereof. Super-favorites are in RED and Diego has highlighted those films starring fab Felines.

Addams Family Values
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld (The Addams Family), this sequel to the 1991 movie continues where the original left off and adds some new characters:  Debbie Jellinsky (Joan Cusack), Pubert Addams, and a cameo by Sonnenfeld.
Returning cast includes Raúl Juliá (in his final film), Anjelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd, Christina Ricci (Sleepy Hollow), Carel Struycken (The Witches of Eastwick), and Dana Ivey.
Jonathan Barkan provides a spot-on observation about this quirky family, “…the Addams Family are the most loving, caring, and connected family that has ever graced the silver screen.”

I took a quiz, “Which Addams Family Member Are You?” I am (drum roll)…
Child of woe is wan and delicate…sensitive and on the quiet side, she loves the picnics and outings to the underground caverns…a solemn child, prim in dress and, on the whole, pretty lost…secretive and imaginative, poetic, seems underprivileged and given to occasional tantrums.
Take the Quiz!

Alien 3
The third in the series, this one takes place in a penal colony located on a remote planet. It is somber and contains far less action than did the previous Aliens. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons it disappointed fans and critics alike. I liked it because it was so different from the first two. (Why do the same thing over and over?)
Each movie in the franchise has employed a different director – with David Fincher manning the helm here.
“[David Fincher] wanted the alien to be, ‘more of a puma, or a beast’ as opposed to the upright, humanoid posture of the previous films, so the designer of the original alien, H. R. Giger, was contacted to generate new sketch ideas. His revisions included longer, thinner legs, the removal of ‘pipes’ around the spine, and an idea for a sharp alien ‘tongue’ in place of the secondary jaws.” (Wikipedia)
Creature effects used for the Alien:  CGI, rod puppet, and actor.
Sigourney Weaver reprises her role as Ripley and Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Near Dark, Aliens) plays dual roles:  Bishop II and the voice of the damaged Bishop android. Charles S. Dutton, Charles Dance, and Pete Postlethwaite co-star.
Alien Resurrection
Produced by Walter Hill (Alien 3), witten by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, this is the fourth installment in the series. Once again Sigourney Weaver is on-board as Ellen Ripley, only this time she’s been cloned – with Queen Alien DNA mixed in with hers. The Ripley 8 clone is very cat-like. Lean and lithe, with enhanced strength, reflexes, acidic blood, and a “psychic link with the xenomorphs” (Wikipedia).
There are mercenaries (led by Michael Wincott), a synthetic human called an auton (played by Winona Ryder, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie), one sadistically sick scientist (Brad Dourif), and an erotic sequence involving Ripley and one of the aliens. Oh, and a “newborn” birthed from the uterus of a hybrid Queen alien. (Seeing Ripley 8 as its real “Mom”, this grotesquerie turns around and kills the Queen alien.) The cinematography is elegant – especially the scene where we see Aliens swimming. Ron Perlman (The Island of Dr. Moreau, Blade II) and Dan Hedaya (The Hunger, The Addams Family) also star.

n. a grotesque figure, object, or action

I know what you’re thinking, but Anaconda is worth seeing for the campy performance by Jon Voight alone! He manages to steal scenes away from the star of the film, Jennifer Lopez (The Cell).

Co-starring Ice Cube, Eric Stoltz, Owen Wilson, Danny Trejo, and one big-ass animatronic snake.

Batman Returns Diego's pick
What more could you want in a movie:
Tim Burton (Frankenweenie, Sleepy Hollow, Beetlejuice)
Denise Di Novi (Practical Magic)
Michael Keaton (Beetlejuice)
Michelle Pfeiffer (What Lies Beneath, The Witches of Eastwick)
Score by Danny Elfman (Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow, Nightbreed, Frankenweenie, 2010s The Wolf Man)

Add Christopher Walken as Max Shreck (see Shadow of the Vampire) – who just so happens to be a cat lover – and a ton of fantastic felines and you have the makings of a movie made in heaven…cat heaven.

This moody ghost story had me glued to my seat. I dared not take my eyes off the screen for a moment. As the title character, Thandie Newton (Interview with the Vampire) was, by turns, sweet and sinister.
In 1987 Ophrah Winfrey (who also stars) purchased the rights to Toni Morrison‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.

Directed by Academy Award-winning Jonathan Demme, Beloved also features Danny Glover, Jason Robards, and Charles Napier.

The first in the franchise, Blade stars Wesley Snipes as the superhero (Blade’s a ‘Dhampir’ – a human with vampire strengths but not their weaknesses – who takes on the task of protecting humans from vampires) and contains one of the coolest – and bloodiest – opening scenes.. Snipes is supported by Kris Kristofferson (Blade II, Blade: Trinity), Stephen Dorff, Udo Kier (Flesh for Frankenstein, Blood for Dracula, Shadow of the Vampire, BloodRayne), and Traci Lords. Excellent soundtrack.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Great attention was paid to every lushous detail in this version of Stoker’s novel, which at its core is a love story spanning centuries. “[Winona] Ryder initially brought the script…to the attention of Coppola…[who was] attracted to the sensual elements of the screenplay and said that he wanted portions of the picture to resemble an ‘erotic dream’…all of the visual effects seen in the film were achieved without the use of optical or computer generated effects, but were created using on-set and in-camera methods.” (Wikipedia)

It won three Academy Awards, including Best Costume Design (Eiko Ishioka, The Cell). Her creations proved to be some of the most memorable in movie history. As Vlad, the vampire-to-be was clad in an armadillo-inspired suit of armor. “Old” Dracula was clothed in a long, flowing, red satin robe. The collar on Lucy’s wedding dress was styled after the Australian frilled lizard (who displays a neck “frill” when threatened). Renfield’s straight jacket and the coachman’s livery continue in this same vein.

Dracula (Gary Oldman) undergoes eight
transformations throughout the film.

Artistic inspirations included Jean Cocteau (Beauty and the Beast) and the works of Gustav Klimit.

Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola (Jeepers Creepers), Bram Stoker’s Dracula has an impressive cast:  Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood), Winona Ryder (Alien Resurrection, Beetlejuice, Frankenweenie), Anthony Hopkins (2010’s The Wolfman), Carey Elwes (Shadow of the Vampire), Monica Belucci (The Brothers Grimm, Brotherhood of the Wolf), Richard E. Grant, Tom Waits, and Keanu Reeves (Constantine, The Devil’s Advocate).

Annie Lennox wrote and performed the theme “Love Song for a Vampire” which plays during the closing credits.

Deep Blue Sea
Although capitalizing on Jaws, Deep Blue Sea takes homicidal sharks to a higher level. Set in an underwater facility, it centers around a team of scientists and two genetically-engineered Mako sharks – not to mention the hunky Thomas Jane.

Like Final Destination and Lake Placid, there are some unexpected, scary moments. Directed by Renny Harlin.

Fallen Diego's pick

Demonic possession takes center stage in this excellent supernatural thriller. Denzel Washington stars with John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz (Thir13en Ghosts), James Gandolfini, and Elias Koteas (as the fallen angel Azazel).
(I’ll forever equate that song with this movie…)

Full Eclipse
(Some of the most obscure horror movies turn out to be about werewolves.) It seems the Los Angeles police department has a new police force…

Starring Mario Van Peebles, with a script by Richard Matheson (who also co-produced).

Innocent Blood
Anne Parillaud is a beautiful vampire taking on mobsters (played by Robert Loggia and the ever-elegantly-dressed Chazz Palminteri). A tongue-in-cheek (fangs in cheek?) take on the vampire story. (I’m hungry for Italian…food.)

Bonus cast:  scream queen Linnea Quiqley (Return of the Living Dead), Luiz Guzmán, Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead), Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, and Angela Bassett.

Interview with the Vampire
I’ve never been happy with the choice of Tom Cruise to play the iconic Lestat. (Hell, I had a Siamese cat named Lestat that was way cooler than Cruise!) Being a fan of the book(s), I would have preferred Julian Sands, Sting, or even David Lee Roth. With that said, Brad Pitt (Louis) and Kirsten Dunst (Claudia) made-up for it – especially Dunst who was 11 at the time and totally stole the movie from her more-seasoned co-stars.
Screenplay by Anne Rice, who at the time very publicly approved of Cruise as Lestat. Directed by Neil Jordan (The Company of Wolves), it also stars Antonio Banderas (as a gorgeous Armand), Stephen Rea (The Company of Wolves), Christian Slater, and Thandie Newton (Beloved).
Lake Placid

Betty White

‘Nuff said.