A faceless, demented killer; the presence of the
demonic; nubile young things drenched in buckets
of blood — these are the hallmarks of 70’s horror
films, the decade when the horror genre really came
into it’s own both critically and commercially.
70s horror films marked a gradual departure from the more traditional gothic horror monsters such as Dracula and Frankenstein that Universal had started in the 1930s (and Hammer resurrected in the 1950s). America’s post-war nuclear assortments of radiated insects and threatening aliens had also dwindled. By the mid seventies, these horror movies had worn too thin. The public was desensitized to their effect. So what was the public doing with their spare time?
We know the box office takings were suffering at the continuing growth of television. The era of the main horror film companies of Hammer and Amicus was over.
What replaced the old Gothic style in 70’s horror films was a huge increase
in the production of gory, graphic horror films. Besides the reasons stated
above, this was also due to social, political and economic changes of the 1960’s;
the sexual revolution, the loosening of censorship laws, and the creation of a
new film ratings system by the Motion Picture Association of America, which
included categories for films restricted to adults and pornographic films (R and
X rated). The boundaries for 70’s horror films could be pushed further.
In this new climate, filmmakers created horror films noteworthy for their
shocking expositions of body mutilation, bold use of color and electronic music,
everyday and isolated locations and the sexual exploitation of female victims ,
made all the more vivid by the turn to realism in films of that era in general.