Something big happened in 1977
Not in horror, but the movie world as a whole. I'm sure everyone has already guessed, but if not ... Star Wars came out. With Star Wars, movie executives were shown that outside-the-box genres can succeed and that franchises made money. Of course, Star Wars wasn't a franchise yet, but the writing was on the wall.
Looking at 1977 as a whole, there are several personal favorites and important movies to my development as an overall nerd but not a ton of horror movies. However, many of those are heavy hitters and big influences on what was just around the corner for the horror genre.
The Hills Have Eyes is the biggest horror movie of 1977 in my development as a horror fan. It paved the way for Wes Craven to have the freedom to develop and produce creative and imaginative horror spectaculars. It also continued the realistic horror that he had used in his first film, The Last House of the Left, with shocking success. Find it on tubi and Shudder
Blurb - On the way to California, a family has the misfortune to have their car break down in an area closed to the public, and inhabited by violent savages ready to attack.
Suspiria could easily be #1 and probably is for many people. An interesting bit of trivia, it was originally written as a school for children no older than 12. That idea was quickly squashed since the movie would most likely be banned in Europe and America. Dario Argento changed it to 20-year-olds but didn't rewrite the script, giving the girls an unnatural naivete. Find it on tubi.
Blurb - An American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.
David Cronenberg breaks away from directing TV movies and dives back into the world of horror with Rabid. In 1975, he tasted some success with Shivers and Rabid is the movie before he goes on an epic run of horror masterpieces. All, of course, we will visit on upcoming lists. You can watch it on HBOMax.
Blurb - A young woman develops a taste for human blood after experimental plastic surgery, and her victims turn into blood-thirsty zombies, leading into a city-wide epidemic.
I have the paperback of The Sentinel and it compares itself to The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, and every other popular supernatural novel of the 60s and 70s. This movie has an amazing mix of experienced and up-and-coming actors. You have to rent or buy this one.
Blurb - A young woman moves into an apartment in a building which houses a sinister evil.
1977 also gave us David Lynch's first full-length film, Eraserhead. You can find it on HBOMax.
Blurb - Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.
Shock Waves was 1 of 4 Peter Cushing movies to come out in 1977. He simply didn't know what to do with himself and continued to pump out movies like he did when he was younger. This is on something called Night Flight Plus or you can rent/buy from the normal places.
Blurb - Visitors to a remote island discover that a reclusive Nazi commandant has been breeding a group of Zombie soldiers.
The other Peter Cushing Horror film, The Uncanny, returns Cushing to the anthology picture. Three tales of terror come together to give the viewer a full movie here. Stream on VUDUfree or tubi.
Blurb - Wilbur Gray, a horror writer, has stumbled upon a terrible secret, that cats are supernatural creatures who really call the shots. In a desperate attempt to get others to believe him, Wilbur spews three tales of feline horror.
Not ready to give up on the thrill and horror that gripped middle America Greydon Clark gives us a too tame for anyone movie called Satan's Cheerleaders. That said, if you realize the movie is coming at you with tongue firmly planted in cheek, you will find enough to keep you entertained for the 90-minute run-time. Not streaming anywhere as of now.
Blurb - The janitor at a local high school is actually the scout for a coven of Satanists on the lookout for a virgin to sacrifice. One day he kidnaps the cheerleading squad to use for their rituals. However, unbeknownst to the devil-worshipers, one of the cheerleaders is actually a witch, and has plans of her own for the Satanists.
The last 3 movies will continue the animal-theme horror that was popular in the 70s. First up is Orca. With Richard Harris starring, and Bo Derek making her debut Orca has enough to stand on its own, but Jaws will always hang over it since it came first. This one is a rent/buy-only movie.
Blurb - A hunter squares off against a killer whale seeking vengeance for the death of its mate.
A staple of TBS/USA horror marathons, Kingdom of the Spiders stars William Shatner between Star Trek roles. One of my favorite movies Shatner did in the 70s. Rent/buy only on Amazon.
Blurb - In rural Arizona, countless killer tarantulas are migrating through a farm town, killing every living thing in their path. The town's veterinarian will do everything in his power to survive the onslaught.
So you want to see Leslie Nielson in a different light? Check out Day of the Animals. This is the last of the horror movies I will highlight this week, and it's a fun one. You can stream on tubi and Amazon Prime's free service IMDB.
Blurb - A battle for survival ensues after a group of hikers encounters a chemically imbalanced forest.
1977 saw the release of some of my favorite movies and the beginnings of many an important career. I may have to revisit these in another post, but as I have in the past here are some non-horror movies you should check out.
Wizards was originally supposed to be called War Wizards but Lucas asked Bakshi to drop the word "war" so it would be confused with Star Wars.
The Hobbit is the one true movie for me. The live-action is fine, but this animated movie was a constant companion throughout my childhood.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is the 3rd Ray Harryhausen Sinbad picture and once got me grounded for picking the movies at the library for a month. Good times.
Kentucky Fried Movie is the birth of the spoof movies that gave us Airplane and all the nonsense on Netflix today.
The Deep is one of my favorite Peter Benchley novels. If you were disappointed by Jaws, check it out or at worst find the movie and stream it.
After getting a taste of directing with Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Terry Gilliam went on to write and direct Jabberwocky. He went on to direct some of my favorite movies, and it's fun to go back and watch his early stuff.