Our STREAMtober celebration on FIELD OF STREAMS continues with the best Made-For-TV gems from the 70s streaming today
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As everyone is appropriately revisiting their favorite horror titles now that the spooky season has arrived, it would make sense that we here at Field of Streams do the same. While Justin gave a great rundown about what some of the major streamers are offering this month, I decided to delve deep into my favorite scary genre: the 70s Made-For-TV horror movie. During the decade of Bob Newhart and Mary Tyler Moore, there was a whole slew of continuous telefilms which dealt with the scary side of things. Usually these titles were made on the cheap by studios who had talent under contract and airtime to fill.
Although some of these titles were on the cheesy side, others played their horror for real and the result was an assortment of chilly entertainment that inspired nightmares within a generation and went on to become classics of sorts. You know the usual ones of this era, namely Trilogy of Terror and Duel. But lesser known titles such as Who is the Black Dahlia? Starring Lucie Arnaz and The House that Wouldn’t Die starring Barbara Stanwyck show how vast and plentiful this specific brand of horror was. Thankfully, fans and content programmers recognize both the fun and creativity within many of these beloved fright-filled movies.
Please enjoy these five prime examples of 70s made-for-TV horror/thrillers all available on your favorite streaming platforms.
Dark Shadows and Trilogy of Terror creator Dan Curtis couldn’t resist the chance to put his own spin on the classic Stoker tale in a way that was truly his own. Curtis cast Jack Palance as the titular vampire and mounted quite the handsome affair that spared no expense (for a TV production, that is). This version of the classic horror novel stays close enough to the original text, but really excels thanks to Palance’s performance. The actor seems literally possessed by the character he’s playing as he delivers all his lines with such eerie authority and fearsome commitment. Curtis at the helm means that this Dracula delivers plenty of atmosphere and gothic passion, but it’s Palance who brings the horror.
While he waited for audiences to calm themselves after shocking them with The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven directed this TV adaptation of author Lois Duncan’s novel, Summer of Fear. Linda Blair stars as Rachel, a suburban girl whose life is upended by the arrival of a cousin (Lee Purcell), whose come to live with the family following the devastating death of her parents. After a number of strange occurrences start to plague Rachel, she soon starts to suspect that her cousin is actually a witch. Craven manages to keep the tone which made Duncan’s books the kind of dark teenage page turners that they were, while also adding his own stamp on the project. In fact, one jump scare towards the film’s end calls to mind the kind of horror timing the director would later perfect with Scream. Worth it just to see two horror icons cross paths.
ALL THE KIND STRANGERS (Sling, Paramount+, Philo)
Few things are as terrifying as children, and this TV movie sure does prove it. In All the Kind Strangers, a photographer named Jimmy (Stacy Keach) on a cross-country trip to California picks up a young boy carrying groceries. What starts out as a good deed of driving the boy back to his home ends up being something much worse as Jimmy encounters a gaggle of siblings (including an adorable Robbie Benson) who have trapped both him and a woman (Samantha Eggar) in their home and forced them into the roles of their parents. All the Kind Strangers is a special kind of creepy. While there aren’t a great many jump scares or opportunities to scream, the terror comes from the dynamics between the children and their adult victims as both sides psychologically wrestle to stay one step ahead of the other until the end.
SATAN’S TRIANGLE (Prime)
By the 1970s, screen beauty Kim Novak was already becoming chooiser about when she wanted to work, which makes discovering the gem that is Satan’s Triangle even more rewarding. Novak stars as a woman who is found to be the only survivor on a small yacht caught in the Bermuda Triangle where some mysterious force has managed to kill everyone on board. In many respects, Satan’s Triangle should have been a feature film. The story is certainly given enough care and thought as is the script, which is brought to life by performances from Alejandro Rey and Ed Lauter. But it’s the dark, mysterious question at the heart of the film which makes it memorable as is the foreboding atmosphere of the sea, Novak’s committed performance and a level of suspense that’s held until the very last minute.
THE SPELL (Sling, Paramount+, Philo)
Unlike Satan’s Triangle, The Spell was originally intended for the big screen. Lee Grant plays Marilyn, a well-to-do California housewife trying to keep her family together, despite the trouble brought on by older daughter Rita (Susan Meyers), who is being bullied at school because of her weight. As the days progress, Rita becomes causing more and more trouble as strange incidents (such as a family friend spontaneously combusting) start to happen. While production was delayed due to script issues, Carrie came out and all but cornered the telekinesis market, leading to The Spell being refashioned for television. Grant is practically inspired as a woman who both fears and loves her daughter but knows that the darkness within in her must be stopped or else. A great metaphor for that time in life when everyone’s teenage daughter seems like another person.
There are countless services to explore and great things to watch on all of them. Which ones did we miss that you would suggest to us? Tell us what we’re missing out on or what new services we should check out by leaving a comment below or emailing us.