12 Best 70s Horror Movies

70s horror movies
Image credit: United Film Distribution

The 70s horror movies all have one thing in common: frightening you to death and forcing you to sleep with the lights on for days at a time.

The 1970s are an excellent place to start if you want to know the roots of modern horror movies. As this decade marks the beginning of contemporary horror movies, it also marks the beginning of its sharpening.

A lot of evil became a lot more terrifying in this period when violence became more physical and genuine. There was a wide variety of movies in the horror category in the 1970s, from the supernatural to the sci-fi to the frightening house movies.

There have been at least two sequels or remakes made for every one of these movies, and many of them have become huge franchises that continue to be renewed.

Below are lists of the best 70s horror movies.

Table of Contents

1. The Stepford Wives (1975)

  • Director: Bryan Forbes
  • Star casts: Katharine Ross, Paula Prentiss, and Peter Masterson
  • IMDb ratings: 6.9

This is one of the best 70s horror movies. Horror isn’t necessarily about the destruction of a perfectly normal life.

Iconic Stepford Wives show that perfection can be wicked, and it’s never more displayed than in this movie.

It depicts the story of a New York-based family that relocates to the lovely suburbs of Connecticut, where the men are affluent, and their wives look unnervingly like the perfect women of 1970s television advertisements. The anxiety and suspicion develop as the tension and beauty of what’s truly going on the surface.

2. The Omen (1976)

  • Director: Richard Donner
  • Star casts: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens, and David Warner
  • IMDb ratings: 7.5

It’s hard to think that “Superman” and “The Goonies” director Zack Snyder originally found success with a horrific story of the devil.

After “The Omen” became one of the most successful 70s horror movies, Richard Donner was thrust into the spotlight.

An American ambassador who secretly adopts a kid, Damien (Harvey Spencer Stephens), discovers he’s the Antichrist later on in the movie.

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Damien’s mother is played by Lee Remick, while David Warner appears as a photographer who helps figure out that Damien’s presence signifies the apocalypse.

A creepy nanny, a strange pack of Rottweilers, and practically everyone’s untimely deaths are all signs that something is amiss.

3. Eraserhead (1977)

  • Director: David Lynch
  • Star casts: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, and Allen Joseph
  • IMDb ratings: 7.3

“Eraserhead” is David Lynch’s depiction of parenting and domesticity from a bizarre, horrific perspective. As difficult as it is to convey, the movie’s central character is Henry (Jack Nance), a young guy with shock-haired hair who has an alien-like kid with his lover Mary X (Charlotte Stewart). The story has many more plot twists.

In Henry’s radiator is Laurel Near, a smiling, mysterious woman. He gets seduced by the seductive woman who occupies the apartment across the hall from him (Judith Roberts).

 The movie’s title comes from his skull being chopped off and used to produce erasers. Lynch’s debut feature movie is an avant-garde piece of filmmaking that uses black and white cinematography.

Also, industrial noises and visuals, hideous practical effects, and uncomfortable circumstances to terrify and disturb.

After it became a very influential work, Stanley Kubrick reportedly forced the cast and crew of “The Shining” to watch “Eraserhead” for inspiration.

4. The Amityville Horror (1979)

  • Director: Stuart Rosenberg
  • Star casts: James Brolin, Margot Kidded and Rod Steiger
  • IMDb ratings: 6.1

 This is one of the 70s horror movies that is based on a true story. A 23-year-old Long Island man indeed shot to death his parents and siblings.

Another family did move there a year later, but they left within a month of doing so. As for whether a demon-eyed swine made an appearance or prophetic dreams and several other highly creepy occurrences haunted the family, there is no definite answer. However, none of that minimizes how creepy and scary this haunted household movie is.

5. Black Christmas (1974)

  • Director: Bob Clark
  • Star casts: Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, and John Saxon
  • IMDb ratings: 7.1

In Bob Clark’s opinion, Christmas was a time to be sarcastic. The director of both “A Christmas Story” and the cult classic Canadian horror movie “Black Christmas” is a double threat.

Before John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” this vacation slasher was one of the first and best 70s horror movies, and it was also one of the first to employ the killer’s point-of-view as a narrative.

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The movie’s narrative centers around a sorority house and its members. Jess (Olivia Hussey), the heroine, decides to get an abortion against the wishes of her boyfriend, Peter (Keir Dullea).

However, Margot Kidder is remarkable as the outspoken and heavy-drinking Barb, who is not afraid to push back at Billy’s taunts.

Similarly, both “Black Christmas” and “Halloween” have similarities with Hitchcock’s Psycho. It’s one of the greatest and most essential 70s horror movies ever made, and it’s also been made twice.

6. Jaws (1975)

  • Director: Steven Speilberg
  • Star casts: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, and Lorraine Gary
  • IMDb ratings: 8.1

The movie Jaws was responsible for some people’s apprehension about even taking a bath, let alone going swimming.

It’s rare for a horror movie to combine genuine horrors and near-unbearable suspense with true character development and masterful filmmaking, but Jaws does just that in abundance.

John Williams’ score for the movie, which is now synonymous with the phrase “something’s going to get you,” was one of the first summer popcorn blockbusters.

7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

  • Director:  Tobe Hooper
  • Star casts: Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, Allen Danziger, and Paul A. Partain
  • IMDb ratings: 7.4

One by one, the innocent kids are slaughtered by a chainsaw-wielding maniac in Texas, where the movie’s title references.

Sledgehammers, meat hooks, and chainsaws all make appearances in this backwoods horror classic, one of the genre’s most important entries.

When you look at the worst-case scenario that underlies all of humanity’s mortal anxieties, it’s almost too terrible and effective to ever be truly “enjoyed.”

However, it is an undeniable triumph of the horror genre, evoking terror with such intensity and accuracy that it has an ageless potency.

8. Don’t Look Now (1973)

  • Director: Nicholas Roeg
  • Star casts: Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland, Hilary Manson, and Clelia Matania
  • IMDb ratings: 7.2

Don’t Look Now, directed by Nicolas Roeg, is a great work of cinematic horror, one of the most devastating, haunting, and sensual ever made.

After the devastating death of their daughter, a married couple relocates to Venice with the goal of rehabilitation.

Don’t Look Now brings together the outstanding talents of Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, based on Daphne Du Maurier’s literary legacy.

When they arrive at their destination, they encounter an elderly psychic who warns them of another sad loss.

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9. Halloween (1978)

  • Director: John Carpenter
  • Star casts: Donald Pleasance, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tony Moran, and Nancy Kyes
  • IMDb ratings: 7.7

Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, and John Carpenter all returned to work on the 2018 Halloween sequel forty years after the first movie’s release.

That speaks something about the original’s enduring appeal, in which a guy in a frightening Captain Kirk mask terrorizes a neighborhood in the tiny town of Haddonfield, Illinois, on Halloween night. Carpenter and his team produced a horror classic despite a small budget and a short production period. 

10. Alien (1979)

  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Star casts: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, and Veronica Cartwright
  • IMDb ratings: 8.5

Acid for blood is a  grueling reproductive process. Killing machine that’s as good as it gets. During an unplanned landing on a moon by the cargo ship Nostromo, the crew unknowingly transports one of the most terrifying animals ever created.

This is one of the 70s horror movies that scare you more because of what you don’t see since director Ridley Scott used a gradual buildup and quiet to create the suspense and fear until the last moment.

11. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (1973)

  • Director: John Newland
  • Star casts: Kim Darby, Jim Hutton, Barbara Anderson, and William Demarest
  • IMDb ratings: 6.5

A newlywed couple inherits an ancient home with a mysteriously bricked fireplace. After seeing enough horror movies, it’s obvious that those bricks should be avoided at all costs.

However, no one in a horror movie has ever seen a horror movie before. As a result of Sally accidentally opening a little fireplace door, horrific monsters emerge, intent on gaining access to her soul. With just the perfect amount of fun, this movie conveys frightening creepiness in a strange atmosphere.

12. The Legend Of Hell House (1973)

  • Director: John Hough
  • Star casts: Roddy McDowall, Gayle Hunnicutt, Pamela Franklin, and Clive Revill
  • IMDb ratings: 6.7

Experts and specialists thrive in this paranormal thriller about a haunted house. They should be able to handle whatever evil threatens them.

A movie like The Legend of Hell House, on the other hand, is every bit as disturbing as one in which naïve young people or newlyweds are forced into a house of terror.

Menacing and haunting, with a feeling of dread but no gore, the British horror classic is also written by Richard Matheson.

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