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The Year in Horror: 1977

Boy, do I have fond memories of the Lisa, Lisa films. While the sequel, Lisa, Lisa 2: The Cult of Cult Jam was a gory delight, it's the third in the series (Lisa, Lisa 3: Full Force Never Dies) that truly, terrifyingly rox my sox.

Okay, so I made that up. But really, doesn't the world need more Lisa Lisa jokes? Yes...yes, it does. Some of you may be more familiar with Lisa, Lisa under its video release title: Axe. I've never seen it, but it's one of those movies that's simmering in my brain. I'm not sure if it's good sleaze or bad sleaze, so I never make the move to bring Axe home with me. Good sleaze is great fun and all, but a night with bad sleaze can leave you infected. Not that I know, of course- I am just saying.

The point is, I came across this ad for the drive-in and my first thought was something decidedly old person-ish; you know, "Golly, those were the days!" or "Gee, my old LaSalle ran great!" or "I hate the young!" or something. Then I looked up Lisa, Lisa because, truth be told, I had no idea what it was. Then I discovered it was released in 1977. Then I ate a sandwich while thinking about how 1977 was a fucking great year for horror (yes, much like 1981). Then I started this post...and that gets you pretty much caught up with my day so far.

Oh yes, my friends, 1977 was awesome. Let's take a look, shall we? Come, let's venture back to a time when John Carpenter's Halloween was still a year away!

What the masters of horror were up to:
  • Dario Argento began his "Three Mothers" trilogy with the candy-colored witches in ballet school masterpiece Suspiria.
  • Wes Craven traveled into cannibal country with The Hills Have Eyes.
  • George Romero released Martin, his non-traditional vampire flick. I want to like Martin more than I actually do.
  • Tobe Hooper brought us Eaten Alive, a bizarre, ugly film that made for a strange follow-up to his classic, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Eaten Alive is perhaps most notable because it features The Man Who Would Be Freddy Krueger, Robert Englund...or maybe because of the giant crocagator.
  • Mario Bava's last film, Shock, was released in the U.S. as Beyond the Door II despite the fact that it's not a sequel- both films simply feature child actor David Colin Jr. Using this logic, I've decided to start calling Christmas with the Kranks "Terror Train 2".
  • David Lynch began his career in mindfuckery in earnest with Eraserhead.
Kids Kill the Darndest Things:
  • Young Cathy was cursed in...Cathy's Curse. You know, I think Cathy's Curse is a film like Rumplestiltskin for me. You know, I've talked about that phenomenon, how Rumplestiltskin is terrible while I'm watching it, but when I'm thinking about it later I remember it being awesome and I want to watch it again...only when I succumb to the urge, I remember that it's terrible, and so on and so on in an endless cycle of pain and happiness. I just read my review of Cathy's Curse and it looks so good I want to pop it in when I'm done writing this, but I know that I probably shouldn't- "probably" being the operative word.
  • In The Child, Rosalie somehow controls a little zombie army. They do her bidding, killing her enemies and finishing her math homework. Okay, so they just kill people. It's a weird movie that's frustrating at times, thanks largely to awful dubbing, bad sound editing, and a grating soundtrack. Despite its shortcomings, The Child is The Awesome.
  • Audrey Rose, a tale of reincarnation, wasn't nearly the epic horror film I'd built it up to be in my mind in the years before I saw it. I'll admit: this MAY be a problem with me, not the movie.
Animals Run Amok!
  • The late writer/director William Girdler graced the world with Day of the Animals, featuring a topless Leslie Nielsen wrasslin' a bear in the rain.
  • Joan Collins battled giant ants in Empire of the Ants. Somehow, it turned out not to be the greatest film of all time: another of life's mysteries.
  • There are so many things to love about Kingdom of the Spiders, if I were to list them all I'd be here forever and frankly I just don't have that kind of time. Therefore, I'll just mention the best thing about it: The Cow Who Can Act.

1977, The Year That Keeps on Giving:
  • Nazi zombies ahoy in Shock Waves!
  • Exorcist II: The Heretic, or as it was known upon its re-release years later, Exorcist II: What the Hell Were They Thinking?
  • Warning: The Sentinel is a film that shows things you can't un-see. It may, however, be worth the risk.
  • The Haunting of Julia really needs a DVD release, dammit.
  • Less deserving, perhaps, is The Town That Dreaded Sundown, a quasi-slasher flick based on a true story. I like it, though I'm not entirely sure why.
  • Julie Christie gets it on with a computer in Demon Seed.
  • Haunts is an obscure sleaze-fest featuring scissor murders, sexual hangups, Aldo Ray, Cameron Mitchell, and an ending that makes the whole thing worthwhile. I watched it with the intent to review it here, but then I never did. Maybe I should do it...although I kind of just gave a one-sentence review, didn't I? What more do you want from me??
  • Honk...honkhonkhonnnnnk! The Car vroomed out of Hell and into our hearts.

See? I wouldn't lie to you...1977 was fucking awesome. Some of horror's greatest filmmakers were making great films, and there was a little something out there for everyone. Whether you're into killer cars, killer kids, or killer killers, you can travel back to that magical year and have your thrills. I'm gonna go give 1977 a hug, and resist the urge to watch Cathy's Curse.

Edited for bonusosity! Here's some stuff I missed, as pointed out in the comments...
  • David Cronenberg brought porn star Marilyn Chambers into the seedy world of mainstream horror cinema in Rabid.
  • Bo Svenson stars as Gar, a faded-from-glory Olympic skier who faces off against a rampaging Snowbeast in...umm...Snowbeast.

A poll for you—-eh, never mind

In the interests of synergy, I was about to create a poll in order to determine the most annoying secondary character in horror. I began listing out the jerks who are so jerky you just sit there hoping they'll die soon: you know, guys like Shelly from Friday the 13th Part 3, the rednecks from Friday the 13th Part 5, Steel and Rickles from Day of the Dead...but then I ran into a problem. A sweaty, sausage-chewing, spit-spitting, wheelchair-bound, pee pee in a can problem...a problem named Franklin. Yes, Frankin from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. More specifically, the problem is that no one in the history of horror or, indeed, ever is more annoying than Franklin. It's just not possible, and I mean that in a most scientific sense. I've done the math, people, and he's the annoyingestest. EST. Evarrrr.

As I sat dealing with my sads over not being able to create a poll for you to click, an idea came to me. Why not create a diff'rent poll? I mean, if being diff'rent is good enough for strokes, then it's good enough for polls.

Okay, that barely makes sense. Regardless, click and say your say!





Personally, I'm going for Franklin. Yes, the noise is annoying, but at least it doesn't smell like sausage.