1970s Movies that Warped a Teen-Age Meby ThommyMac | created - 16 Sep 2011 | updated - 04 Dec 2017 | Public
Back in the magical days of second run houses, Pittsburgh's South Side (where I grew up) had the Arcade Theatre. Saturday mornings had the kiddie stuff and the afternoon and evenings had the GOOD (to a 13 year old) stuff. We also had the Mount Oliver theatre up the hill on Brownsville Road, but the crowd was a bit on the rowdy side. Lotsa biker's and their old ladies seeing a flick before heading over to the Hoffbrau, a biker joint back then. 3 decades later, some of those flicks may have re-wired me.... If you care to read about where the rewiring stopped I ended up kicking heroin after I lost everything.
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1. The Exorcist (1973)
R | 122 min | Horror
When a 12 year-old girl is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her.
Votes: 345,714 | Gross: $232.91M
What can I say? An irresponsible baby-sitter took us to see this when I was 10! Yow, THAT definitely left a mark. The babysitter was in her 20s, too! She recently came out of an none too effective closet. I doubt that had any bearing, she'd be irresponsible regardless of her preferences. For the next 5 years I was in some degree afraid of demonic possession. I do have to say it had very little bearing on my beliefs, pro or con once I was old enough to shave. It seemed like Linda Blair's 'possessed' face was on every Fangoria-type rag out for the entire year. Saw the MANY knock-offs, too. Anyhow, stay away from Captain Howdy.
2. Boxcar Bertha (1972)
R | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
During the Great Depression, a union leader and a young woman become criminals to exact revenge on the management of a railroad.
I saw this second run two years after it's original release. The young and "never afraid to get naked" Barbara Hershey was great. John Carradine and son David chewing up the scenery together alone makes this a must see for ANYONE'S film list(s). It was the ending that haunted me for days at a time when 13 years old. Much later, I learned that Scorsese said that [Roger] Corman taught him the practicality of filming. Scheduling all the filming of the trains for one day, and other nuts and bolts items like that helped him immensely, by most accounts. Anyhow, spoiler-free, it has an ending that will haunt you.
3. Blacula (1972)
PG | 93 min | Fantasy, Horror, Romance
An ancient African prince, turned into a vampire by Dracula himself, finds himself in modern Los Angeles.
Votes: 5,406 | Gross: $2.18M
Oh, man. Where to start? First, besides the beginning, it is in no way camp. The wry observations about cops, clubs, economic disparity, and a host of other comments are great. If they were in some crappy documentary, it would be considered genius. Anyhow, Blacula's diatribe against two pimps is PRICELESS. Also, pay STRICT attention any time the LAPD is on the scene.
4. A Piece of the Action (1977)
PG | 135 min | Crime, Comedy
Dave Anderson and Manny Durrell are two high-class sneak thieves who have never been caught. Joshua Burke is a retired detective who has enough evidence on the both of them to put them ... See full summary »
I LOVED this flick. So did me younger brothers, Joey (R.I.P.), and Tony (R.I.P). Seriously. I can't explain it, the flick transcends his Cosbyness. I guess he was still pretty young. There is no denying that he has a real presence. As much as I did not care for his later (read:big) TV shows, his movies with Sidney shows why Bill Cosby is a star. To be able to hold your own with Mr. Tibbs is something to brag about. Their movies were like the Wilder\Pryor buddy flicks but with 3x the testosterone. Oddly enough, the 'Blackboard Jungle' sub-plot works well in this flick. This was written long before The Cosby controversy. I am not a huge fan but I smell a big, fat, commie rat. Look at how that goof Seagal treated ALL his assistants. Nah, I ain't buying it, at least from the peanut gallery. PLUS being a male chauvinist pig ain't a crime. Yet.
5. The Sentinel (1977)
R | 92 min | Horror
A young woman moves into an apartment in a building which houses a sinister evil.
This scared the wits outta me at 13 years old. Creepy, very good acting (for the subject) and GREAT locations made it well worth the 50c it cost. It was a buck once a kid hit 16. I was forevermore infatuated with NYC. Chris Sarandon was superb, as always. AND if you HAVE to remember an OLD Ava Gardener, this movie is WAY better than her role in "Earthquake". I always wondered if the heroine's scary walk through the place inspired the equally scary walk through the hotel towards the end of 'The Shining'. Burgess Meredith shows his range in this film as well. He was as creepy as a bus station after midnight in this role.
6. Deathsport (1978)
R | 82 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Futuristic Science Fiction about a sport to the death, using "destructocycles".
Wow. All I can say was that me 14,year old imagination allowed me to believe David Carridine was a Ranger class 12-3000. "I'm my only master" indeed. It wasn't the film that made me an infantryman but it made me look up the history of the US Army Rangers. Well, I guess like the holy grail, it's an ideal....
7. Rollerball (1975)
R | 125 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Sport
In a corporate-controlled future, an ultra-violent sport known as Rollerball represents the world, and one of its powerful athletes is out to defy those who want him out of the game.
Votes: 21,190 | Gross: $30.00M
The FIRST rated "R" movie I was ever allowed to see with parental knowledge, I hoped it would come true by the time projected in the script. The XFL was the best we could come up with? Anyhow, I LOVED it. Moses Gunn's going on about towns before the 'corporations ran things'. Houseman was great, as was Caan. I hope EVERYONE involved with that wretched remake never work in film again. They should of called that disaster Rollerball 2: Electric Boogaloo. Maybe the producers were banking on Pink's draw as a star. :snark:
8. Car Wash (1976)
PG | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance
A comedic take on the daily life of car-wash employees, chronicling their hopes, fears, joys, dreams, and tribulations, and meeting some eccentric customers along the way.
As with about 25% of the others on this list, I saw it first at the Mount Oliver a couple times, then down the Arcade on E. Carson St. It was probably the only movie I saw where the black folks on the screen behaved anything like the black folks I grew up with in my neighborhood. I have not got any flack yet but I better clear some things up. I am a white guy who grew up next to Arlington Heights, went to South (HS), and lived in Arlington until me craziness got me tossed by the now ex. Anyhow, spare me the suburban championing of what you deem racist. I submit that feeling black folks need a white person to 'stick up for them' is racist in and of itself. Go back to the suburbs with that hollow preaching. Honest opinions about movies, no more & no less.
9. Frenzy (1972)
R | 116 min | Thriller
A serial murderer is strangling women with a necktie. The London police have a suspect, but he is the wrong man.
Votes: 38,601 | Gross: $12.60M
Was HE the model for Side-show Bob? I dunno, but he scares me to this day....
10. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
Even the poster rattled me. 5 years earlier I was a kid absolutely terrified this was an accurate portrayal of what the future would mostly be like. This was the only flick (besides Flesh Gordon) that the required us to get an older brother* to get our tickets. I have, since, become a Stanley Kubrick fanatic. Read the ORIGINAL version of this book with the 21st chapter included. It is a book worth reading over and over, the flick is different enough for reasons that become apparent.
*black guy. SEE ALSO BLACK CAESAR
SIDE-NOTE: Caligula with Malcolm McDowell was the only time I had to produce ID for a movie.
11. Squirm (1976)
PG | 92 min | Horror
A storm causes some power lines to break and touch the ground, drawing millions of man-eating worms out of the earth, and into town where they quickly start munching on the locals.
As an adult, this was hilarious. As a 12 year old, it wigged me out. The flat chested redhead went topless every chance she could. It was great to see people casually smoking a joint and not going schizo. The supposed male hero was an irritating punk who needed smacked around. Ye godz did I want to be the lucky person to do the deed. This was then AND now. Historical note: I got busted seeing this, a rated "R" flick that I dinna get permission for. The kid I saw it with couldn't go to sleep and 'fessed up. It wasn't a snitch, since he dinna tell. It was merely elementary, Watson. We had went together to see whatever it was we told them.
12. Black Caesar (1973)
R | 87 min | Action, Crime, Drama
Raised in Harlem, Tommy Gibbs becomes a successful mob boss but he clashes with the rival Mafia and his old enemy, dirty cop McKinney.
My OTHER (and much prettier) babysitter was a black substitute teacher. She always took me and a neighbour kid of hers to the movies. We saw Godzilla v.s Megalon for the matinee. SHE bumps into a college buddy and they want to hang and BS. GUESS which 3 year old movie was the evening (read adult) feature was? If you said Black Caesar, buy yourself a Pepsi. Now how did it warp me? I am from a 'mixed' neighbourhood in Pittsburgh, so the 'blacks'* in the blaxploitation flick behaved NOTHING like my friends. What really warped me was that none of my friends who were black talked like the (alleged) black folks on the screen. The evening was a great one, since she started taking us to the LATE matinee and we would see the grown up flick, too. Man, as much as I dig Netflix I miss those run down old second run houses. Although my beloved Pittsburgh now has a handful again. I would bet none of them let you make out with your girl or smoke a joint up in the balcony.
* Having as many black friends as I do white, every single one said for me to NEVER call them 'African-American'. I do not suppose they speak for everyone, just the ones who I KNOW is going to read this.
13. The Big Red One (1980)
R | 113 min | Drama, War
A hardened sergeant and the four core members of his infantry unit try to survive World War II as they move from battle to battle throughout Europe.
This movie and Apocalypse Now had a HUGE part in me picking the US Army Infantry as my branch of service and job. It may be needless to say to most vets, but to the civvies Big Red One covers the personalities and the Infantry pretty good. Apocalypse Now was surreal on purpose. If you ever hear some cat talking about "Apocalypse Now" being just like his "tour", he is probably a fake S.E.A.L., too. They also tend to claim to be part Cherokee, as well as having a mongrel that is 'part wolf', too. (Technically not the 70s but I was still a freshman).
14. Aloha Bobby and Rose (1975)
PG | 88 min | Drama
A young garage mechanic (Bobby) and fast food hostess (Rose) meet and quickly fall in love. While out on a date one night, Bobby "fakes" holding up a convenience store. The prank goes ... See full summary »
Votes: 454 | Gross: $35.00M
VERY similar to above (Bobbie Jo et al.) except, if memory serves me, the female co-star's breasts* were nothing to write home about. I only saw it in the theatres but the end has stuck with me all these years. I also remember 'Benny and the Jets' being a big part of the movie. Does anyone have ANY info on getting a copy of this or the above flick?
SEE NEWSFLASH ABOVE (#10 Bobby Jo and the Outlaw)
*(small real ones are ALWAYS better than big fakes. I like woman real and it is WHO the breasts are attached to that is the real key to their respective attractiveness.)
15. Apocalypse Now (1979)
R | 147 min | Drama, Mystery, War
A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.
Votes: 571,639 | Gross: $83.47M
See above (The BR1). Man, what a great parable but it is based on a Joseph Conrad story. The story was set in the Congo, a great place NOT to be in the late 1890s. It has no bearing on the actual Vietnam war. For a solid laugh, read this (also READ the trade rag links about his invention in the story):
The movie reminds me of some BS artist going on and on at a bar (way back when I drank) about his PTSD, blah blah blah. When I told him the VA took great care of me, he did the usual 'secret records means I was where we weren't' story. I almost pity those cats. Ladies, if hooked up with some goof that uses some military 'experience' to justify inappropriate behaviour, get thee over to:
They will tell you how to get someone's military records. REAL men NEVER hit women or kids. The majority of ex-POWS are overachievers. They are CEOs, retired pilots, and are never mooches in a bar. I am very grateful Recondos were never mentioned in movies. I guess because we were only allowed to wear the patch in units under the auspices of the XVIII Airborne Corps. A room mate who ended up PCSing to a leg unit said they made him take it off, as well as the JOTC patch on the opposite pocket. Whatever. That was over 30 years ago.
16. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
R | 83 min | Horror
Two siblings and three of their friends en route to visit their grandfather's grave in Texas end up falling victim to a family of cannibalistic psychopaths and must survive the terrors of Leatherface and his family.
Votes: 127,554 | Gross: $30.86M
Long before the horrible sequel and laughable re-visits that lost the point, there was the original. It helped form some beliefs about people as a whole that did not get dropped until I was in a 12 step program. It just shows a twisted mind can rise above a limited budget. As gory as films have become, none can compare to the tautness and suspense created here.
17. Sssssss (1973)
PG | 99 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
A college student becomes lab assistant to a scientist who is working on a serum that can transform humans into snakes.
OK, I was 10 when I saw this. I NEVER saw it again until today on Netflix (an uncompensated endorsement). It was vaguely disturbing as a pre-teen but that was all I remembered. It was almost worth a second viewing. Remember when all semi-hot chicks had the feathered hair? As a teen and young man, the taking off of the glasses was always fun. Not 'undoing a bra strap' fun, but similar. Refer to Vinnie Vega's foot massage speech. Taking off the glasses before a kiss can be the 1st base coach waving you on to second base. Anyhow, the heroine reminds me of that. Not so much a tramp per se, but IF you got here kissing home plate just got a whole lot closer.
*I received an email regarding my alleged infatuation with female breasts and some know-it-all about me using single quotes (') where double (") should be used. I am an IT guy. Way back when, double-quotes used to stop SQL statements COLD. I have been in overall/utility player positions for a long time now but old habits remain. As far as females go, well they were a selling point at the time. Happy?
18. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)
PG | 99 min | Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
A shipwrecked survivor discovers a remote island owned by a crazed scientist who is carrying out sinister experiments on the island's inhabitants.
Votes: 5,305 | Gross: $8.00M
What an odd age 13 was for me. Playing Star Trek during the day, smoking weed and going to see flicks like this at night. Once you get past Burt Lancaster being, well, Burt, the movie is OK. York is his usual competent self, believable no matter what the scenery is, and as British as 11 o'clock tea. For an Arkoff production, you get to see the manimals often and they are not too shabby. The ending fight sequences are well worth the wait. I saw it theatrically but remember it being the ABC movie of the week not long after. Back then, that was a sure sign a movie tanked. Way back then, the longer a movie took until it was on TV was a rough indicator of its success. The longer it took reflected how well the box office take was.
19. Bug (1975)
PG | 99 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A scientist (Bradford Dillman) experiments with mutated insects freed by an earthquake, making matters worse.
Votes: 1,841 | Gross: $3.60M
Bradford Dillman. His name reminded me of many more entries for this list. As cheap as the production values were, I hated the cat getting killed. It was obvious it wasn't a real cat, so it wasn't like it was a Mexican cat juggling tape snuck across the border.
20. Burnt Offerings (1976)
PG | 116 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A family moves into a large old mansion that seems to have a mysterious and maybe even sinister power over their actions.
Moody, well done, and a believable child actor made this a film that has stood the test of time, at least to me. Bette Davis, Karen Black, Oliver Reed, and Burgess Meredeth vamping as an effeminate paraplegic in a haunted house? What more could you want out of a film?
21. Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978 TV Movie)
PG | 96 min | Fantasy, Horror, Music
KISS, a rock band made up of superheroes, battles an evil inventor who has plans for destruction at a California amusement park.
"Classy title, no?" the one & only Gene Simmons Watch Ace's "double". Simply amazing. "Guys," (meaning KISS) "your music and personalities got me through a poverty-stricken childhood, an honorable stint as an infantryman, college, parenthood, kicking heroin, and a marriage. That being said, the Monday after this aired, I got ribbed at school and do until this day."
22. Tentacles (1977)
PG | 102 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
A mutated giant octopus wreaks havoc on a California seaside community.
John Huston, Shelly Winters, Hank Fonda, and Claude Akins square off in a Mortal Kombat type tournament. Sadly, that was just my mind trying to cope with THAT cast facing a giant.....octopus!
23. It's Alive (1974)
PG | 91 min | Horror
The Davies expect a baby, which turns out to be a monster with a nasty habit of killing when it's scared. And it's easily scared.
Awesome in its horrible cheesiness, with an absolutely tasteless "monster" it enthralled our 5th grade class. And the magic of 2nd run houses meant we periodically saw it again as the other move in a double-bill. Way back when the country was still free, there were thousands of film distributors across the country, most regional players. This meant flicks would float around the market and pop up over and over then go on. Nevermind...
24. The Happy Hooker Goes to Washington (1977)
R | 89 min | Comedy
The world's most famous madame is called to Washington to testify before Congress.
Dear me, WHAT a disappointment, even to an uber-horny 13 year old. As mentioned in many of my posts, the second run houses RARELY enforced the ratings for a flick. If it was a notorious witch* in the booth, we went to the kiddie matinee and then hid/smoked squares in the latrine.
*She was wise to the 'Terrence & Phillip' ruse.
I would bet this flick was where my life-long aversion to George Hamilton flicks come from. BARELY even worth a view for curiosity, time may be better spent watching old Serta commercials on YouTube. The ONLY laughs were the closing captions regarding the fate of the senators.
25. The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977)
G | 90 min | Drama
Sunn Classics "speculative fiction" film proposing a theory that the killer of Abe Lincoln escaped to Canada instead of being tracked down and killed soon after the assassination.
Part II of this list's Bradford Dillman's hat trick. The movie made perfect sense at age 13. I haven't seen it since but :joke:it made me a right-wing conspiracy nut:/joke:.
26. Piranha (1978)
R | 94 min | Comedy, Horror, Sci-Fi
When flesh-eating piranhas are accidentally released into a summer resort's rivers, the guests become their next meal.
Votes: 17,753 | Gross: $6.00M
The B.D.'s hat trick movie here. I was going to crow "The Original" but there were a few "Pirahna" movies before and some after. Fun for what it is. I have to Netflix or Amazon this one. I do not remember the T&A quotient.
27. Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972)
PG | 87 min | Comedy, Horror
Six friends in a theatrical troupe dig up a corpse on an abandoned island to use in a mock Satanic ritual. It backfires with deadly consequences.
I think THIS is my very favourite movie, no joshing. THERE. I said it and I am not ashamed. Most friends still see me as the same person. I NEVER saw this at the theatre, so it is more an honourable mention. I DID see it as a teen in the 1970s, though. The title, besides being great, is just darn good advice. The first time I saw it was on the incredible "Chiller Theatre w/Bill Cardille", the second on a bootleg Betamax in Panama, and numerous times since. Now that i own it (Thanks, Ray!) and have seen it enough to write a walk-through, I have to say it aged VERY well. The clothes, lingo, and attitudes are PURE early 70s. The kids who pretend to remember this sort of stuff on "I Love the 70s" would do well to study the players in this flick. Anyhow, even after many viewings over the years it is still genuinely creepy. A forgotten gem, if you will.
28. Swashbuckler (1976)
PG | 101 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy
A pirate and a hot-tempered noblewoman join forces to protect Jamaica from a tyrant.
This ran as the main pic for 2 weeks at the long gone Arcade, and the 2nd feature off and on for months. That means me and Mikey J saw it minimum of a half dozen times. I had forgotten it existed until Netflix reminded me. I can remember Peter Boyle with hair, sort of, Tom Clancy was in it, and some creepy or disturbing side-kick. I will re-watch this baby ASAP.
29. Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980 TV Movie)
TV-14 | 192 min | Biography, Drama
The real-life story of the Peoples Temple cult led by Reverend Jim Jones and the events involving its move to Guyana and its eventual mass suicide.
This gem may end up the longest review. It is sort of cheating as to movie theaters. It was originally a 3:10 long TV movie, 2 nights. I was 13 and working at a Pet Store with a kid permit. We watched it both nights as a family but it held mostly me, Joey, and Dad. It supposedly got trimmed to 110 minutes and made a theatrical run. I can't confirm or disprove that one.
30. Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw (1976)
R | 88 min | Crime, Drama, Romance
A young country-star wannabe takes off from her carhop career to join with a young, modern Billy the Kid wannabe for an adventure in theft, murder and mayhem.
Man, I want this on DVD so badly it aches.* I have seen it 3 times but that was during a two week period well over 30 years ago. I remember some cheating at a pinball game, car aerial whippings, slow mo old west type gun duel AND Linda Carter's magnificent breasts. What more would a red-blooded 13 year old boy want in a flick? Linda was born-again afterwards (and apparently still is) so those babies have not been seen on film since. Was it a pretentious Bonnie & Clyde update with Marjo Goertner? I dunno, but I sure liked it then. Unmasked fraud preacher and a soon to be born-again babe, what a combo. *NEWSFLASH!!!! A fellow former Vets Place staffer FOUND me a copy! I have also secured a copy of Aloha Bobby and Rose. Both were a bit different than I remembered them.