The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Directed by Wes Craven [Other horror films: The Last House on the Left (1972), Stranger in Our House (1978), Deadly Blessing (1981), Swamp Thing (1982), Invitation to Hell (1984), The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Chiller (1985), Deadly Friend (1986), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988), Shocker (1989), The People Under the Stairs (1991), New Nightmare (1994), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Scream (1996), Scream 2 (1997), Scream 3 (2000), Cursed (2005), My Soul to Take (2010), Scream 4 (2011)]

I’ve not seen this one in a long while, and given that I’ve also only seen this one once, I was quite excited to watch The Hills Have Eyes again. It’s not the most gritty or violent horror films of the 1970’s, but even so, Wes Craven made a winner here following his success with The Last House on the Left.

In many ways, this feels reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, what with the desert and the cannibal family. Obviously this takes a different approach to things, which I believe works in it’s favor (and makes this a more enjoyable film than The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, on a side-note), but I just love how Craven paid homage to Hooper’s successful film – it’s nice to see these directors’ stuff from the 1970’s feel somewhat interconnected.

And no doubt, the setting here is great. Along with being quite isolating, it’s just nice to see the environment play a large part in the story, be it things like the heat, tarantulas (in a scene that I definitely could have done without), lack of food and intense heat. It gives a more realistic sense of danger even aside from the cannibal homebois in the hills, and I find that aspect enjoyable.

At first, I wasn’t going to spend that much time on the performances, and I probably still won’t, but I did want to say that pretty much everyone did well. Robert Houston had some shaky moments, and Susan Lanier did get to become a bit much as the movie went on, but given what her character went through, I can’t really blame her.

Martin Speer (Killer’s Delight) was decent toward the end, but it did take his character a little while to get there. Virginia Vincent really shined after her husband (played by Russ Grieve) got #barbecued. John Steadman and Dee Wallace (The Howling, Critters, and Cujo) both add some flavor. Of the cannibal family, it’s James Whitworth, Janus Blythe (Eaten Alive), and Michael Berryman (Deadly Blessing, Mask Maker, and Cut and Run) should get the most credit, but again, everyone does decently.

Like I said, this isn’t really that violent of a film. Sure, a dog attack leaves a man’s foot in a less-than-ideal condition, and another character is burned alive, but it’s more of an emotional scene than it is graphic. There is a painful stabbing also, but Last House on the Left, at least from what I remember, was more disturbing than this one was, and certainly the 2006 remake upped the violence too.

Some of this movie is pretty dark, as one could potentially expect from 70’s horror. It seems almost no one is spared from being killed off, and there are some pretty tense and moderately disturbing scenes here, which would probably be true of any horror film in which a character’s family was slowly being killed off around them. This movie, as I said, packs an emotional punch at times (even if the performances can’t necessarily carry that), so I appreciate that.

Really, there’s not much here that I didn’t care for. Sometimes the film focuses more on the point-of-views of the cannibal family (which I think is a good way to almost compare and contrast the two family units), which felt sort of jarring, but it didn’t happen often, and when it did, it sometimes led to quality canine attacks, so I can’t really complain about that.

Oh, and the final scene is quite sudden (and I mean sudden as though it was a 50’s monster movie), but it was sort of jarring, in that event horizon way, so that wasn’t much of an issue.

The Hills Have Eyes has a lot going for it. It doesn’t match the grittiness of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre at all, nor does it match the violence of many of the other horror films coming out around the mid-to-late 1970’s, but it does have a pretty good story with quality performances and a great sense of dread, so if this is a Craven movie you’ve been skipping, I’d ask that you perhaps reconsider. Either that, or I’ll eat the brains of your kids’ kids.


Eraserhead (1977)

Directed by David Lynch [Other horror films: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014)]

I think I’m somewhat forthcoming about my dislike of more experimental films, and many of them I see (with a few exceptions, such as Hausu) I end up disliking. I’ve seen Eraserhead once before (hated it), and seeing it with fresh eyes, I still hated it.

This isn’t something I want to spend much time on, mainly for the same reason I didn’t want to spend much time on My Boyfriend’s Back – this film isn’t aimed at me, and I knew that going in, so I don’t feel particularly great about giving it a low score (and believe me, Eraserhead is getting a low score). I know it’s not my type of thing, but it’s also a movie that I had seen before, and as such, had to rewatch, so here we are.

I’ll give this film props for a dark atmosphere, banging background score, unsettling imagery, and befuddling ideas. I found much of it repulsive and didn’t enjoy almost a second of it, but it was certainly trying something different, which is something I guess you can trust Lynch to do.

Of course, I can imagine that there are a hell of a lot of interpretations for this movie out there, and I’d guess that most of them are equally valid. I have no idea what this movie was trying to say, if anything, but as to not be left out in the cold, I’d just argue that it tries to expose what working-class isolation in a post-industrial society, following the results of an Atomic bomb dropped by a Western African nation in the grips of an unending civil war, can do to a man’s fragile psyche. Sounds close enough.

Jack Nance had an interesting look to him. Charlotte Stewart (who later popped up in Tremors, of all places) was certainly something. Allen Joseph could smile creepily with the best of them. And that’s pretty much it for the cast.

The story was disjointed and moderately confusing, including dream sequences about pencils and some hideous mutant child and a woman who lives in a radiator, which is also Heaven, maybe, or something like that.

Yeah. Eraserhead has a 7.4/10 on IMDb as of this writing, and I just don’t understand it. From my perspective, while elements of this surrealistic film are interesting, it doesn’t make it good, and I had a thoroughly unenjoyable time with this, and if I’m lucky, I’ll never have to sit through this trash again. It’s not my type of movie, which is good riddance, as far as I’m concerned.


Rabid (1977)

Directed by David Cronenberg [Other horror films: Shivers (1975), The Brood (1979), Scanners (1981), Videodrome (1983), The Dead Zone (1983), The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988), Naked Lunch (1991), eXistenZ (1999), Crimes of the Future (2022)]

Given this was a David Cronenberg film, I went in with mild apprehension. I’ve not seen a ton of his films, but out of the ones I have seen (Videodrome, The Brood, The Fly, and Shivers), I’ve only really liked Shivers. Rabid isn’t quite as enjoyable as Shivers is, but I did find it a pretty satisfying and almost time-relevant film.

It took a little while to get going, and at first I thought that most of the mayhem would be centered around the plastic surgery clinic in a localized fashion, but as the movie went on, the battleground against a mysterious virus became the whole of the city of Montreal, which I thought led to some pretty tense scenes. Just seeing multiple scenes of a city under martial law in order to combat the growing virus was great, and gave a great sense of urgency, and it was all so natural in the film.

Perhaps one of my favorite scenes is earlier on, though, right after one of the characters goes crazy at the plastic surgery clinic, and police are investigating the crime. There’s something about it that seems real, organic, with a lot of moving people and some characters walking in and out without even being stopped by police, getting separated and seeing the extent of the craziness.

I have to admit that the two main performances, those of Frank Moore and Marilyn Chambers, left something to be desired. Certainly toward the end, Chambers had some good moments, but neither of the two really did that much for me. Joe Silver (who was also in Shivers, but I forget to what extent) played a fantastically nice guy, and we got our eye candy with Susan Roman (most people would think that Chambers, who has a handful of nude scenes was more attractive, but Roman and the glasses she wears does something to me). No one else in the cast stands out one way or the other.

Like I said, Rabid started out a bit slow to begin with, and it does deal with body horror which is a sub-genre I’ve never much cared for, but during the second half of the film, the larger focus seems to be on the pandemic spreading across Montreal, and the horrors it brings (armed guards standing around the mall, innumerable garbage trucks to pick up dead bodies, people forced to wear Ids identifying them as getting a preventative vaccine), and it just hits harder given that I’m writing this in October of 2020, with COVID still very much a concern to most people.

This movie isn’t at all perfect, but for a Cronernberg movie, I enjoyed it far more than I’d have expected, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you’ve not already.


The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Directed by William Sachs [Other horror films: South of Hell Mountain (1971)]

So I’ll give this movie an A+ insofar as the special effects are concerned. Very solid, gooey, slimey stuff. Beside that, though, this is an utterly dull movie with very little going for it.

Really, the title appropriately pulls you in, but the movie’s not necessarily schlocky or anything. It has that very serious 70’s tone (save for a little comedic relief thrown in by Edwin Max’s and Dorothy Love’s characters) that’s dry as all hell, and while I sometimes appreciate a somber atmosphere, I was more bored than anything. In fact, it reminded me slightly of the awful Another Son of Sam, though this wasn’t quite as bad.

It was still bad, though. Honestly, Edwin Max and Dorothy Love are the only two characters here with, well, character. Burr DeBenning, Myron Healey, Ann Sweeny, Michael Alldredge, Lisle Wilson – all boring as hell. I don’t know how much any of them can be blamed, but boy, talk about stilted performances. Cheryl Smith gave us a little nudity, though, so kudos to her.

Like I said, the special effects here are certainly worth seeing. Even the conclusion is more somber than you’d expect, so there’s a little here that almost make it worth the trouble, but that may be a bit generous. The special effects were great, but when the story’s so damn dull, it doesn’t really make a difference.

The Incredible Melting Man certainly had a melting man in it (and when he fully melts toward the end, again, it’s impressively depressing), but it’s not near as fun a story as you might hope. There were some unintentionally funny scenes (such as that slow-motion run near the beginning), but more often than not, it’s just an excruciatingly slow movie, and save the effects, really isn’t worth it.


This is one of the films covered by Fight Evil’s podcast. Listen below as Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Another Son of Sam (1977)

Directed by Dave Adams [Other horror films: N/A]

What a poor, poor film. Sometimes called a proto-slasher, I was expecting quite a bit more from this, but I got oh so little.

The cinematography here is whack, and I mean whack. Some freeze-frames with dialogue of a different scene running (seemed to be a delay, or something), some slow-motion, rather inept editing that makes a few scenes difficult to really get a handle on. Pretty much everything about Another Son of Sam screams amateurish.

It’s also dull, which is in large part due to the procedural route this movie went past a certain point. The last forty minutes or so are spent in a dormitory (that looks nothing at all like a dormitory), and nothing very interesting happens. Nothing interested happened before, so it wasn’t a big loss, but even so, it’s just disappointing that a psychopathic serial killer can take down half a SWAT team and it’s still boring.

I’ll give a little props for a few cute girls (didn’t catch their names, but one might be Bonnie Schrier) and one solid scene of the killer’s hand coming up from beneath the bed of an unsuspecting victim. It was almost creepy, which is more than what I can say about anything else in the film.

Easily, I could see this movie, rough as it is, making it’s rounds in drive-in theaters toward the end of the 1970’s, and it may have even entertained some people. It does possess proto-slasher elements, and though very little is executed well, there’s a little here. It doesn’t matter, though, because Another Son of Sam has very little going for it. It’s not even a particularly gritty or gory film – it’s just dull, and certainly not worth another watch. It was barely worth the first watch, and I can’t, in good conscience, recommend it.


Hausu (1977)

Directed by Nobuhiko Ôbayashi [Other horror films: Kawaii Akuma (1982), Reibyo densetsu (1983)]

This has got to be one of the craziest horror/comedies out there, and I’m not saying that simply because it’s Asian or slapstick. Hausu (or simply House) is a wild ride from beginning to end in so many different ways (filming techniques, animations, camera angles, music, etc.) that I don’t have the vocabulary to do the movie justice.

I won’t take too long on this, because I truly feel that this film is one that you have to see to experience. Even the best writers out there (of which I’m nowhere close to joining the ranks of) cannot properly explain what watching this movie feels like. It’s certainly a trippy flick, and occasionally silly, but it never once lets up on entertainment value.

Who doesn’t love the seven girls here? You have Gorgeous (Kimiko Ikegami), Kung Fu (Miki Jinbo), Fantasy (Kumiko Ohba), Prof (Ai Matsubara), Mac (Mieko Satô), Melody (Eriko Tanaka), and Sweet (Masayo Miyako), some of whom are forgettable, but as a package, they’re a lot of fun. Perhaps my favorite character was Prof (who actually had the most nudity in the film, which isn’t saying much, but came as a pleasant surprise), but I loved Kung Fu also (partially because she wore what looked like bikini bottoms for most of the movie). Fantasy was fun too, and Mac was always amusing.

It’s not really enough to call this an artsy film, because the style Hausu holds within goes beyond that. Again, it’s something I can’t personally put into words, but this whole movie, from beginning to the somewhat surprisingly somber end, was an experience in a way that few movies really are.

Of course, I’m not going to say the film is without flaws. It did get a bit too goofy for me a few times, such as the random banana scene, or perhaps the floating head. But at the same time, there were also some genuinely creepy scenes here, such as the moment when a woman walks into a refrigerator, or a scene too goofy to ever be condemned (the piano sequence, a true legend of cinema).

For some, perhaps this movie might be too zany and off-beat to leave a positive impression. I can certainly understand if some people walk away from Hausu with the belief that this tried too hard to be different. Personally, though, despite not being a fan of too much silliness, this movie has a perfect blend for my taste, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Hausu each time I’ve seen it.


This was covered on Fight Evil’s podcast. If interested, listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this one.

Suspiria (1977)


Directed by Dario Argento [Other horror films: L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo (1970), Il gatto a nove code (1971), 4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971), Profondo rosso (1975), Inferno (1980), Tenebre (1982), Phenomena (1985), Opera (1987), Due occhi diabolici (1990, segment ‘The Black Cat’), Trauma (1993), La sindrome di Stendhal (1996), Il fantasma dell’opera (1998), Non ho sonno (2001), Il cartaio (2003), Ti piace Hitchcock? (2005), La terza madre (2007), Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012), Occhiali neri (2022)]

This stylistic flick is a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t live up to Argento’s previous Deep Red, Suspiria is a solidly atmospheric flick.

Witches aren’t something that are dealt with too commonly in horror, so Argento going that route proved a wise move, especially as he was able to craft a movie of this atmosphere, with both moody tension and good gore (when the film deigned to go that direction). The gore is quite good, mostly in the first murder sequence, but the razor-wire room is fun also.

Jessica Harper wasn’t a big name before this film, and really didn’t become that big of a name after it, which is a bit of a shame, as I thought she did really well here. Unfortunately, while it’s not that big a deterrent, none of the other actors/actresses involved were that memorable, but it doesn’t leave that much a negative impact.

The artistic style this movie has can’t really be matched, what with amazing color schemes and music composed by Goblin. Really, just for these aspects alone, disregarding the story, the movie would probably be a must see (and I generally see a lot more compliments about the style of the film over the content, to be sure). All-around great use of camera, lighting, and music to bring a creepy vibe to this one.

While certainly not my favorite horror film of the 1970’s (I don’t know if it’d even make my top 25), Suspiria has a lot of character, and certainly, if you can find an uncut version, even if it is dubbed, to watch, I think that you’ll probably have a good time. Even after three, maybe four viewings myself, I still find the film quite fun, and I only wish the ending was a bit more conclusive.


Dark Echo (1977)

Dark Echo

Directed by George Robotham [Other horror films: N/A]

This obscure production (filmed partly in Austria) is, in many ways, partially a precursor to The Fog.

In a small lakeside village in Austria, individuals are being killed in mysterious ways. Though the townsfolk themselves are naturally superstitious, the evidence begins to point to the spirit of a captain blamed for a shipwreck causing the deaths of eighty people 100 years ago, those being killed in the present descendants of those who accused Captain Gohr. It’s a fun plot, and while it doesn’t have the atmosphere of The Fog, one can see how such comparisons can be made.

This movie boasts a decent cast, those standing out including Joel Fabiani (playing the main character), Karin Dor (who looked a lot like a young Allison Janney), and Wolfgang Brook (this is, in fact, his only movie). Fabiani played his character, a care-free, martini-drinking psychic, beautifully, and had some good lines throughout. Wolfgang Brook, despite this being his only film (at least according to IMDb) did well as an Inspector in a bad situation, getting worse by the day.

While the gore wasn’t the standout feature of this film (for the first hour and ten minutes, thereabouts, it had a television movie feel to it), there was a good stabbing about an hour and ten minutes in, along with a surprisingly violent scene in which a woman got the top of her skull chopped off, blood spewing and her brain falling out onto a table. Special effects in those scenes were done well, and the spirit/zombie of Gohr looked pretty good also.

The movie did lose a bit of steam, ironically enough, toward the end, and the final twenty minutes were a bit more unsteady than I’d have preferred, but overall, I thought the movie did well for itself. It’s certainly a slower flick, and it wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but the cast and the story did the movie justice. Quick note: some claim that the movie’s from 1986 (as does the copyright state at the end of the film), but it felt more like a 70’s movie to me, and as IMDb lists it as 1977, that year it will stay. Solid movie, and while not amazing, a good flick to watch on a rainy day.


Cathy’s Curse (1977)

Cathy's Curse

Directed by Eddy Matalon [Other horror films: N/A]

First thing’s first – this is a very low-quality transfer that I watched. I’ve heard better quality versions of this film exists, though they’re in French without subtitles. *Shrugs*. So this is a pretty bad print, and if you’ve seen the most common version of Cathy’s Curse out there (one released on Mill Creek Entertainment’s Creepy Classics), I’m sure you’d agree.

In a way, though, I think it brings the movie additional charm. I’ve never been to a drive-in, but I can imagine this is the exact type of movie that would be great to watch at one, and while the quality has faltered, it’s a pretty fun romp.

Cathy’s Curse is one-part The Bad Seed, one-part Burnt Offerings, and one-part The Omen – in it, a little girl is possessed by her father’s deceased sister, and one by one, people around her start dying or going mad. All things considered, it’s a pretty simple film.

Three things about it stand out, though: Firstly, the music has a charming quality to it. Sometimes eerie, sometimes not, the music stood out and enhanced some of the scenes. The acting too was noticeable. It wasn’t always great – Beverly Murray sometimes went a bit overboard portraying the panic-stricken mother. But both Alan Scarfe and Roy Witham did pretty decent jobs (despite Witham only having been in three other films). And lastly, you had some occasionally creepy scenes (along with, of course, some rather ridiculous scenes, but that’s half the fun).

Some of the quotes are pretty classy too – at the beginning, a father tells her daughter “Your mother’s a bitch – she’ll pay for what she did to you.” About halfway through the film, a drunk Roy Witham (playing the groundskeeper as a kindly older man) and gleeful Cathy scare a medium away from the house, shouting, “Get out you old bitch,” and calling her a “fat dried-up whore.” The delivery of these lines were excellent, in my ever-humble opinion.

Cathy’s Curse can at times be a bit of a mess, that much I can say. But I did enjoy it more this time around as opposed to the first time I saw the film, and really, it’s not all that terrible. It doesn’t really drag on, it’s amusing, and is undeniably a product of the 70’s – what more could you want?