Before there even was direct-to-VHS garbage in the 80s, there were loads of crappy 1970s horror movies made. It’s hard to believe they came out in the same decade as movies such as The Exorcist, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween, The Omen, Carrie,and Jaws.
What’s even worse is that they are so wrongly being slapped into those combo-pack DVDs with far superior shitty 80s movies! No. Just no. Keep the decades separate, dammit! I tried. I tried to give these 70s movies a chance instead of shelving the collections after watching the 80s flicks. So I’ll start at the top of the heap.
WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? (1971)
Imagine if Roxy Hart and Velma Kelly were the mothers of murderers instead of the killers themselves, and you’d have What’s the Matter with Helen? After their sons are convicted, Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters start to get threatening phone calls from someone saying he wants revenge. So they pack up, change their names, and move to California.
Debbie teaches little brats dance lessons. Shelley plays piano for her. Debbie dates McCloud man Dennis Weaver. Debbie dances. Debbie tap dances. Debbie does the Tango. Debbie upstages all her little students during a recital. Shelley is so bored by the lengthy recital segment that she sticks her finger in a fan. Then she hallucinates about her husband’s death and becomes convinced the voice on the phone has found them—especially after the voice calls them again.
What’s the Matter with Helen? feels like a melodrama starring two classic actresses which then had a few gory shots by Herschell Gordon Lewis edited into it so it could be called a horror film. Nothing too thrilling happens for a majority of the movie, but there’s eventually a murder that leads to a final awesome 20 minutes with plenty of crazy twists. But the show is really stolen by Agnes “Endora” Moorehead’s reaction to Debbie Reynolds giving Shelley Winters a good smack.
THE VELVET VAMPIRE (1971)
The Velvet Vampire has no incisors and plenty of sun. A pretty woman kills a burly biker who was about to assault her then invites a ditzy couple at an art exhibit to her estate in the middle of the desert. They eat. The couple tries to sleep and have sex. The vampire lady has her assistant kill a person occasionally. The couple has dreams about being in bed in the desert. We get to see man butt.
The threesome rides around the desert in a buggy. They visit a mineshaft. They visit an old abandoned saloon. The chick gets bit by a snake. The vampire lady sucks out the venom. The vampire lady flirts with both the guy and chick. Eventually, she kills the guy and chases the chick through a bus terminal and onto the street. Conveniently, there’s a concession stand right there selling crucifixes so a bunch of people grab crucifixes and surround the vampire lady….
The Velvet Vampire fails to be scary. It fails to be sexy. I’d lose all credibility if I didn’t say this movie sucked. Okay, I don’t have any credibility when it comes to taste in horror movies, so if I say a movie sucks, you know it has to be really bad.
LADY FRANKENSTEIN (1971)
The Frankenstein story is just one that never fails to leave me less than impressed and not even slightly frightened no matter how it’s reimagined.
Yeah. So Dr. Frankenstein dies at the hands of his monster and his beautiful daughter takes up the cause.
Despite it being a period piece, Lady Frankenstein did manage to keep me watching, waiting for the moment daughter Frankenstein flashed her tits to get the men to do her bidding. But the T&A comes way before that. The monster periodically stumbles upon random naked women throughout the film. He looks like he may have been the inspiration for the monster in the Sting/Jennifer Beals 80s adaptation The Bride. And that’s all I got.
THE HOOKER CULT MURDERS (1973)
Better known as The Pyx, The Hooker Cult Murders is a fairly boring movie in which Christopher Plummer is a detective puzzling together how prostitute Karen Black died, most of it unraveling through flashback clips of Karen.
While Karen’s madam is clearly hiding something, Christopher sets his sights on Karen’s gay roommate. When they finally talk, the guy admits he’s a “homosexual.” I really can’t take that connotative word seriously when used by a gay man because I feel it’s reserved for haters who want to express disgust at the concept by conjuring up a picture of the very sexual act they claim to despise.
Within minutes, the homosexual admits he had a miserable life and abusive boyfriend and his heterosexual female friend Karen saved his life. He barely finished admitting the truth when he gets shot. Classic textbook case of movie homophobia! Ah, the 1970s.
The best part of the The Hooker Cult Murders is the extensive satanic cult worship scene at the end, in which Karen, drugged and eerily dressed like the Virgin Mary, is escorted into the middle of the ceremony to chanting satanic choral music. But I don’t know who decided adding a layer of chipmunk voices to the arrangement would be scary. You have to hear it to believe it.
CREATED TO KILL (1976)
Originally titled Embryo, Created To Kill was a shocking concept when I originally saw it on TV back in the 1970s. After success with a dying dog’s puppy, a scientist, played by Rock Hudson, decides he wants to bring a human fetus into the world outside the womb. And naturally, he succeeds. He also succeeds in creating a formula that allows the baby to mature rapidly. It’s like his own blow-up doll, because in no time, she’s a full-grown adult and he starts banging her.
Unfortunately, there are always side effects to messing with the natural order. Rock’s dog turns into a vicious killer (a totally typecast Doberman), shaking another dog to death like a rag doll. So you can only imagine what’s going to happen to Rock’s blow-up doll.
Other than the chick blowing Roddy McDowall’s mind with her intelligence during a game at a party, not much happens in Created to Kill. Of course, that’s all rectified by her going crazy while dancing around naked. Blow-up doll has some serious body issues!