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THE OCCULT AGE
(1968-1981)

As a result of the turbulent 1960s, horror films of the 1970s became even harder and more excessive. They were also more of them than ever before. The phenomenon of looking inward continued and when President Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after the Watergate scandal, mistrust of a corrupt America was at an all-time high. A new attitude towards individualism became such a contrast to the past that author Tom Wolfe coined the term the "Me Decade" to describe the 70s.

A revolution against Hollywood had begun in the late 1960s with a new generation of young filmmakers producing movies outside the system. In the 1970s, the "graduating class" of horror filmmakers remains the most influential of any decade:

George A. Romero, Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Brian DePalma, Sisters (1972)
Tobe Hooper, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
Wes Craven, The Last House on the Left (1972)
David Cronenberg, Shivers (1975)
Joe Dante, Piranha (1978)
John Carpenter, Halloween (1978)

At the same time, influential directors of other genres were getting their starts in suspense and horror:

Oliver Stone, Seizure (1974)
Steven Spielberg, Jaws (1975)
Richard Donner, The Omen (1976)
Ridley Scott, Alien (1979)

A number of horror trends occurred in the 1970s. Producers and/or studios figured out that from one horror blockbuster could spring a seemingly unlimited number of profitable knockoffs. Most prominent, hence naming this era “The Occult Age,” were movies planted from the seeds of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) that exploded in growth after The Exorcist (1973). The Exorcist started a mini-industry of devil/Satan movies, including titles such as:

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Race with the Devil (1975)
The Omen (1976)
To the Devil a Daughter (1976)
Demon Seed (1977)
The Sentinel (1977)

Since the word “occult” can also be used as an adjective to describe magical powers or mysterious phenomenon, it applies to this era’s rise of another mini-industry of thrillers featuring social outcasts as protagonists. Earlier movies had featured such characters (for example, Willard in 1971) but with Carrie (1976), these characters gained the addition of psychic or telekinetic powers used to exact revenge for being mistreated or ridiculed:

Ruby (1977)
The Fury (1978)
The Medusa Touch (1978)
Jennifer (1978)
Patrick (1978)

As the hippie generation wound down, a new culture of environmentalism wound up; hence the horror trend of nature gone wild films like:

Frogs (1972)
Jaws (1975)
Empire of the Ants (1977)
Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
Piranha (1978)
Nightwing (1979)

These films, of course, sprang from one of an earlier era, Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963).

The portmanteau films from Amicus Productions reached their peak of popularity during the Occult Age, including:

The House the Dripped Blood (1971)
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Asylum (1972)
The Vault of Horror (1973)

Also, Euro Horror continued to invade the United States, peaking with such modern classics as:

A Bay of Blood (1971, directed by Mario Bava)
Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972, directed by Amando de Ossorio)
Suspiria (1977, directed by Dario Argento)
Zombie (1979, directed by Lucio Fulci)

One last horror trend to mention in the Occult Age is the exploitation movie. These movies did not have major releases, but could be found in seedier theaters on grindhouse double-bills. While they may not have had the exposure of the blockbusters, they would eventually experience great success at midnight movies and in the home video boom of the 1980s. Even their titles were exploitative:

I Drink Your Blood (1970)
Blacula (1972)
Don't Look in the Basement (1973)
Eaten Alive (1976)
I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

When Jaws was released in 1975, the summer blockbuster was born. The first blockbusters were really in the 1950s, as Hollywood attempted to lure audiences away from television even as they began using the medium to advertise their product; however, this was the first time movies opened simultaneously coast-to-coast and there were lines around the block. Jaws reflected this phenomenon on steroids. One result of the summer blockbuster was that one hit movie seemed to automatically green light a sequel (or sequels), usually nowhere near the quality of the original:

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Damien: Omen II (1978)
Jaws 2 (1978)

In fact, the Occult Age officially ends in 1981 with The Final Conflict, the third movie in The Omen trilogy and one that combines the two primary components of this era: Satan and mysterious powers.

Finally, 1978 saw the release of perhaps the most influential horror movie of my lifetime: Halloween. Its success spans decades and remains evident today. Even though director Bob Clark walked similar grounds four years earlier with Black Christmas, it is Halloween that will be remembered for finally bringing into the horror consciousness the Slasher sub-genre introduced by Alfred Hitchcock in 1960’s Psycho. Horror in the 1980s would largely be a result of the success of Halloween, and it’s where the Classic Horrors Club ends its definition of the word “classic.”

Exorcist-Header

LIST OF OCCULT AGE FILMS

10 Rillington Place (1971)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Alabama's Ghost (1973)
Alice Sweet Alice (1976)

Alien Terror (1971)
All Monsters Attack aka Godzilla's Revenge (1969)

All the Colors of the Dark (1972)

Almost Human (1974)

Alucara (1977)

The Amityville Horror (1979)

Amuck aka Maniac Mansion (1972)
And Now the Screaming Starts (1973)
The Anniversary (1968)
Ants! (1977)
Are You in the House Alone? (1978-TV)
The Asphyx (1972)
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Assignment Terror (1970)
Asylum (1972)
At the Earth's Core (1976)
Audrey Rose (1977)
The Baby (1973)

Barenko: A Vengeful Spirit (1968)
Barracuda (1978)
The Bat People (1974)

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

The Beast (1975)

The Beast in the Cellar (1971)
The Beast Must Die (1974)

Beast of the Yellow Night (1971)
Belladonna of Sadness (1973)
Ben (1972)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Beware! The Blob (1972)

Beyond the Door (1974)
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1980)

Black Belly of the Tarantula (1971)
Black Christmas (1974)

Blackenstein (1973)

Blacula (1972)
Blood & Lace (1971)

Blood Devils (1970)
Blood for Dracula (1974)
Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)
The Blood of Fu Manchu (1968)
The Blood on Satan's Claw (1971)
Blood Sabbath (1972)
The Blood Spattered Bride (1972)

Bloodlust (1976)
The Bloody Judge aka Night of the Blood Monster (1970)
Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974)

Blue Sunshine (1977)

The Body Beneath (1970)
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)

Brain of Blood (1971)

Brides of Blood (1968)

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971)

Bug (1975)
Burnt Offerings (1976)
The Butcher of Binbrook aka Necrophagus (1971)

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

The Car (1977)
Carrie (1976)

The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969)
The Cat O' Nine Tails (1971)
Cathy's Curse (1977)

Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972)
Chosen Survivors (1974)
Clash of the Titans (1981)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Coma (1978)

The Comeback (1978)
The Conqueror Worm aka Witchfinder General (1968)

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

Corpse Eaters (1974)

The Corpse Grinders (1971)
Count Dracula (1970)
Count Dracula's Great Love (1974)
Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)
Countess Dracula (1971)
The Crater Lake Monster (1977)

The Crazies (1973)
Creatures the World Forgot (1971)
The Creeping Flesh (1972)

Cremator (1969)
Crescendo (1970)
Crucible of Horror (1971)
Cry of the Banshee (1970)

Cuadecuic Vampir (1971)

The Curious Dr. Humpp (1969)
Curse of Bigfoot (1975)
Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)

Curst of the Scorpion's Tail (1971)

Damien: Omen II (1978)

Dark Places (1974)
Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Daughters of Satan (1972)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Day of the Animals (1977)
Dead of Night aka Deathdream (1974)
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Death by Invitation (1971)

Death Line (1972)
Death Race 2000 (1975)

Death Smiles on a Murderer (1973)
Death Walks at Midnight (1972)

Death Wheelers aka Psychomania (1973)

The Deathhead Virgin (1974)
Deep Red (1975)
Demon Seed (1977)
Demons of the Mind (1972)
Deranged (1974)

Destroy All Monsters (1968)

Devil Times Five (1974)

The Devil Within Her aka I Don't Want to be Born (1975)
The Devil's Bride aka The Devil Rides Out (1968)
The Devil's Nightmare (1971)
Devil's Possessed (1974)
The Devil's Rain (1975)

The Devil's Wedding Night (1973)

The Devils (1971)

Die Screaming Marianne (1971)
Don't Deliver Us from Evil (1971)

Don't Hang Up aka Don't Open the Door (1974)
Don't Look in the Basement (1973)
Don't Look Now (1973)
Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)
Doomwatch (1972)

Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971)
Dr. Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo (1972)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Dracula A.D. 1972 (1972)
Dracula and Son (1976)
Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1969)
The Dracula Saga (1973)
Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)
Dracula's Dog aka Zoltan, Hound of Dracula (1978)

The Dunwich Horror (1970)
Eaten Alive (1977)

The Eerie Midnight Horror Show (1974)
Empire of the Ants (1977)
Enter the Devil (1974)
Equinox (1970)
Eraserhead (1977)
The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973)

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

The Evil (1978)
Evil Heritage (1976)
Evil of Dracula (1975)
Exorcism (1975)

The Exorcism of Hugh (1972)
The Exorcist (1973)

Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)

Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

Family Plot (1976)
Fangs of the Living Dead (1969)
Fantastic Planet (1973)

Fear Chamber (1968)
Fear in the Night (1972)

Fedora (1978)

The Fifth Cord (1971)

The Final Programme (1973)
The Flesh & Blood Show (1972)
Flesh for Frankenstein (1974)
The Food of the Gods (1976)

Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970)
Fragment of Fear (1970)

Frankenstein '80 (1972)
Frankenstein & the Monster from Hell (1974)
Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
Frankenstein's Bloody Terror (1968)

The Freakmaker (1974)

The Frenchman's Garden (1978)
Frenzy (1972)

Fright (1971)

Fright: Night of Fear (1973)
Frogs (1972)
From Beyond the Grave (1974)

Fury of the Wolfman (1972)
Futureworld (1976)

The Ghost Galleon aka Horror of the Zombies (1974)
Girly (1970)

God Told Me To (1976)

Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)
Godzilla vs. Megalon (1976)
Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell (1968)
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

The Grapes of Death (1978)
Grave of the Vampire (1972)
The Green Slime (1969)

Grizzly (1976)
Guess What Happened to Count Dracula (1971)
Guru, the Mad Monk (1970)

Hand That Feeds the Dead (1974)
Hands of the Ripper (1971)

The Headless Eyes (1971)

Hercules in New York (1970)
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Holocaust 2000 (1977)

The Honeymoon Killers (1970)
The Horror at 37.000 Feet (1973)
Horror Express (1972)
Horror House (1970)
The Horror of Frankenstein (1970)

Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)
Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973)

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969)
House aka Hausu (1977)

House of Dark Shadows (1970)

House of Evil (1968)
The House of Seven Corpses (1974)
House of Shadows aka La casa de la sombras (1976)

House of Terror (1973)
House of Whipcord (1974)
The House on Skull Mountain (1974)
The House that Dripped Blood (1970)
The House that Screamed (1970)
The House that Vanished (1973)

The House with Laughing Windows (1976)

Hunchback of the Morgue (1973)
I Drink Your Blood (1970)
I, Monster (1973)

I Spit on Your Grave (1978)
The Illustrated Man (1969)

Images (1972)

In Search of Dracula (1975)

In the Year 2889 (1969)

The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant (1971)
The Incredible Melting Man (1977)

Infra-Man (1975)

Inn of the Damned (1975)
Inquisition (1978)
Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Island of Death (1976)
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)

Isle of the Snake People (1971)
It Happened at Nightmare Inn (1973)
It Lives Again (1978)
It's Alive! (1969)
It's Alive (1974)
Jaws (1975)
Jaws 2 (1978)
J.D.'s Revenge (1976)

Jennifer (1978)

Journey Into Fear (1975)
Keep My Grave Open (1977)
Killer's Moon (1978)
King Kong (1976)
Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
Kiss of the Tarantula (1976)
Lady Dracula (1977)
Lake of Dracula (1971)
The Land That Time Forgot (1974)

The Last House on the Left (1972)
Legacy of Blood aka Will to Die (1971)
Legacy of Blood (1978)

The Legend of Hell House (1973)

Legend of Horror (1971) 

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
Legend of the Werewolf (1975)
Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

Leonor (1975)

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)

A Light at the Edge of the World (1971)

Lipstick (1976)

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)
Logan's Run (1976)

The Loreley's Grasp (1973)
The Lost Continent (1968)

Love Me Deadly (1972)
Lust for a Vampire (1971)
Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1969)
Madhouse (1974)
Magic (1978)

Malatesta's Carnival of Blood (1973)

Malpertuis (1971)
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970)
The Manitou (1978)
Marathon Man (1976)
Marooned (1969)
Martin (1978)
The Mephisto Waltz (1971)
Message from Space (1978)

Messiah of Evil (1973)
The Milpitas Monster (1975)

The Mind of Mr. Soames (1970)
Moon Zero Two (1969)

Morgiana (1972)

The Mummy's Revenge (1975)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)
Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (1979-TV)
The Night Evelyn Came Out of Her Grave (1971)
Night of Bloody Horror (1969)
Night of Dark Shadows (1971)
Night of Fear (1972)
Night of the Bloody Apes
(1969)
Night of the Cobra Woman (1972)
Night of the Devils (1972)

Night of the Lepus (1972)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Night of the Seagulls (1975)

Night of the Sorcerers (1974)
The Night of the Strangler (1972)

The Night Visitor (1971)
Night Watch (1973)

The Nightcomers (1971)
Nightmare in Wax (1969)
Nightmares Come at Night (1972)
No Blade of Grass (1970)
Nothing But the Night (1972)
The Nude Vampire (1970)

The Oblong Box (1969)

Obsession (1976)

Octaman (1971)
Old Dracula (1974)
The Omega Man (1971)
The Omen (1976)
One Minute Before Death (1972)

One on Top of the Other (1969)
Orca (1977)
The Other (1972)

The Oval Portrait (1972)
The Pack (1977)

The Pajama Girl Case (1977)

Patrick (1978)

The People That Time Forgot (1977)

The People Who Own the Dark (1976)
Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

Phase IV (1974)

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)

Pigs (1973)
Piranha (1978)

Planet of Dinosaurs (1977)
Point of Terror (1971)

The Power (1968)

The Premonition (1976)

Prey (1977)

A Quiet Place in the Country (1969)
Rabid (1977)
Race with the Devil (1975)
The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

Return from Witch Mountain (1978)
The Return of Count Yorga (1971)

The Return of the Evil Dead aka Attack of the Blind Dead (1973)
Rings of Fear (1978)
Rituals (1977)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Rollerball (1975)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Ruby (1977)
Satan's Cheerleaders (1977)

Satan's Slave (1976)
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Satanis: The Devil's Mass (1970)
Scars of Dracula (1970)

Schlock (1973)
Scream and Scream Again (1970)
Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

Scream of the Demon Lover (1970)

Secret Ceremony (1968)
Seizure (1974)

The Sentinel (1977)

Sexcula (1974)
The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)
Seytan (1974)
She Killed in Ecstasy (1971)
Shivers aka They Came from Within (1975)

Shock (1977)

Shock Waves (1977)
The Shout (1978)
Sinbad & the Eye of the Tiger (1977)
Sisters (1972)
Snowbeast (1977)
Solaris (1972)
Soylent Green (1973)

Space Amoeba (1970)

Spawn of the Slithis (1978)
The Spell (1977)
Squirm (1976)

Sssssss (1973)
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Straight on Till Morning (1972)

Straw Dogs (1971)

Sudden Terror (1970)

Sugar Hill (1974)
Superbeast (1972)
Survive! (1976)
The Suspicious Death of a Minor aka Too Young to Die (1975)
The Swarm (1978)
Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Tarantulas: The Deadly Cargo (1977)
Targets (1968)
Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)

The Tenant (1976)
Tentacles (1977)
The Terminal Man (1974)
Terror (1978)

Terror of Frankenstein (1977)
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Theater of Blood (1973)

The Thing with Two Heads (1972)
The Thirsty Dead (1974)

Thunderbird 6 (1968)
THX 1138 (1971)
Time After Time (1979)
To the Devil a Daughter (1976)
Tombs of the Blind Dead (1972)

Toolbox Murders, The (1978)

Torso (1973)

Tower of Evil (1972)
The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1977)

Toys Are Not for Children (1972)

Trog (1970)
The Twilight People (1972)
Twins of Evil (1971)
The Ultimate Warrior (1975)

The Uncanny (1977)
The Valley of Gwangi (1969)

Vampire Circus (1972)
The Vampire Doll (1971)
The Vampire Lovers (1970)
The Vampire's Night Orgy (1973)

Vampyres (1974)

Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
The Vault of Horror (1973)
The Velvet Vampire (1971)
Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)

Victor Frankenstein (1977)

Voyage Into Space (1970)
War of the Planets (1977)
Web of the Spider aka Dracula in the Castle of Blood (1971)
The Werewolf of Washington (1973)

The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman (1971)
Westworld (1973)

What Became of Jack & Jill? (1972)

What Have They Done to Your Daughters? (1974)

What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)
What's the Matter with Helen? (1971)
When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970)

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976)
Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

The Wicker Man (1973)
The Wide World of Mystery: Frankenstein (1973)
Willard (1971)

The Witch Who Came from the Sea (1976)

The Wizard of Gore (1970)
World on a Wire (1973)

You'll Like My Mother (1972)
Young Frankenstein (1974)

Z.P.G. (1972)
Zardoz (1974)
The Zodiac Killer (1971)