The Best Horror Movies of the 1970s: From Demons to UFOs

The best horror movies of the 1970s span enough settings and secondary genres to satisfy just about any moviegoer. And enough dark, creepy moments to scare the bejesus out of them, too! Here are the best scary films the Disco Decade had to offer.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Based on Anthony Burgess’s dystopian novel about an ultraviolent teenage gang member who has a change of heart after undergoing the Ludovico technique, a form of mind control that makes him sick to his stomach whenever he is confronted with violence but leaves him unable to defend himself.

Ben (1972)

If you have a fear of mice or *gulp* rats, then Ben is not for you. When young, awkward Danny befriends Ben, a rat who is the leader of a pack of killer rodents terrorizing the town.

The Exorcist (1973)

Based on William Peter Blatty’s novel about a girl who becomes possessed by a demon and the exorcist who steps in to save her. Starring Linda Blair, The Exorcist was a smash hit even though it shocked audiences with its graphic scenes and epileptic camera work.

The Beast Must Die! (1974)

A British couple moves into a remote country house to renovate it. They soon come under attack from strange creatures and must defend themselves with help from an animal trapper who is staying nearby

It’s Alive (1974)

A small town doctor finds that a mutant baby, born with amazing powers and abilities due to its parent’s use of LSD is on the loose.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Based on the true story of serial killer Ed Gein, a Wisconsin man who murdered at least two women in 1954 and did strange things with their corpses before being caught by police.

Jaws (1975)

A giant great white shark begins to menace the island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it. Starring Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss, Jaws helped define the summer blockbuster.

Carrie (1976)

A young girl with telekinetic powers has to contend with religious fanaticism, high school mean girls and her unreasonably protective mother.

The Omen (1976)

A young boy is born to be the Antichrist, but his adopted parents are able to save him from that fate. A series of murders and accidents leads them on a global search for their son who they now know was replaced by the true antichrist–a Damien Thorn.

Eraserhead (1977)

Henry Spencer is a hapless, depressed man who discovers that he has fathered an inhuman creature with his wife. The movie is best known for its bizarre imagery and disturbing dreamlike soundscape.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

A suburban family becomes lost while traveling in the desert and seeks refuge at a seemingly vacant house. They soon realize that they are not alone as strange people begin to visit them during the night, but what could be worse than being stranded?

Halloween (1978)

A psychotic serial killer who was once a little boy, haunts the children of his hometown. He kills on Halloween night and returns to stalk them as they grow up over the course of 20 years.

Piranha (1978)

A small town’s citizens find themselves terrorized by flesh-eating fish, swimming upstream from an Amazonian tributary.

Alien (1979)

A film about an extraterrestrial creature that’s taken on human form and terrorizes the crew of a spaceship. Starring Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton et al. Directed by Ridley Scott.

The Amityville Horror (1979)

A family moves into a house that was the site of a mass murder years before. After encountering some supernatural phenomena, they slowly learn more about the haunting and must decide whether to stay or leave. Starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder et al. Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.

(Like Horror Movies of the 1970s? Then you might like our article about Horror Movies of the 1980s, click here. Or our article about Horror Movies of the 1950s, click here.)

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