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Seven of the Greatest Years for Horror Fans

Greatest years for horror - Piper Laurie as Margaret White in Carrie

Hollywood is in the thick of the superhero era, pushing out movies following the adventures of costumed crusaders too frequently for anyone but lifelong fans to keep up. Horror movies have experienced similar booms, producing many of the genre’s greatest films in spurts, often in the same year. Here are seven of the greatest years in horror cinema’s long and storied history!

Year in Horror : 1932

1932 marked the release of two typical but very good big studio releases: The Mummy starring Boris Karloff and The Old Dark House starring…Boris Karloff. What really set this year apart though were the two weirder films: Freaks and The Vampyr. Both of those are still must watches for fans of all things macabre.

Universal's The Mummy 1932

Year in Horror: 1968

This year had two heavy hitters: Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead. Rosemary’s Baby holds up well, chilling viewers with its paranoid atmosphere. Night of the Living Dead has more laughs than scares now, but it spawned a series of sequels that shaped the zombie love that was reignited in the 2000s. Also released: Ingmar Bergman’s only horror film, The Hour of the Wolf.

The VampyrYear in Horror: 1974

The Exorcist, frequently ranked by critics and fans as the best horror movie of all time, came out with five days left in 1973, so we’re counting as part of what I would argue is the single best year in horror, 1974. A few weeks after The Exorcist came another classic Don’t Look Now, then, arguably, the best installment in George A. Romero’s zombie trilogy Dawn of the Dead, and the year finished with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. ‘Nuff said.

61-dwarfYear in Horror: 1976

Two years after The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre laid the groundwork for much of the horror being made today, Carrie, The Omen, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, and The Tenant frightened audiences worldwide. The influence of those films can be seen in a plethora of modern horror offerings.

Sissy Specek as CarrieYear in Horror: 1980

If only Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining had come out 1980, it would’ve been enough. Instead, heavy hitters, including Friday the 13th, The Fog, City of the Dead, The Changeling, the ever-controversial Cannibal Holocaust, and many others scared the silver screen, too.

sh_elevatorfromwendysviewYear in Horror: 1981

You couldn’t step into a movie theater in 1981 without getting the crap scared out of you. Adult Jason made his first theatrical appearance in Friday the 13th Part 2 in the same year as Michael Myers’s second bow in Halloween 2. And that’s not even it for slashers: My Bloody Valentine, Happy Birthday to Me, The Prowler and more also came out that year. For the supernatural, The Evil Dead first screen in ’81, An American Werewolf in London, The Beyond, and my favorite horror movie Possession all made their big screen debut that year, as well!

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in a hospital gown in Rick Rosenthal's underrated slasher sequel Halloween II (1981).Year in Horror: 2014

With the recession and near constant terrorist attacks, horror was bound to take off again, and boy did it ever. It Follows and The Babadook rocked cinemas with new twists on the ‘80s horror we know and love. Housebound is a lesser-known delight, and I would be remiss to leave off The Taking of Deborah Logan.

It Follows

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Written by Ryan C. Bradley
Ryan C. Bradley (he/him) has published work in The Missouri Review, The Rumpus, Dark Moon Digest, Daikaijuzine, and other venues. His first book, Saint's Blood, is available from St. Rooster Books now! You can learn more about him at: ryancbradleyblog.wordpress.com.
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