The Scariest 1970s Horror Movies 

Ranker Horror
Originally by
7.9k votes 689 voters 16.3k views 61 items

List Rules Vote up the 1970s horror movies that freaked you out and gave you nightmares for weeks, months, or even every decade since.

The 1970s were an influential decade during which major historical events occurred – not to mention the many awesome horror movies that were released during this era! This is a list of horror movies of the 1970s, from The Exorcist to Jaws, ranked by how utterly terrifying they were to audiences then and now. With groundbreaking special effects and creative minds behind the pen and camera, the '70s produced some of movie history’s all-time greatest and scariest horror movies.

Whether you’re looking for a realistic flick based on true (or supposedly true) events or a completely fictional movie, there’s sure to be a great fitting movie on this list for you! The movies featured on this list are some of the scariest ones of all time – who doesn’t shiver at the thought of a little girl’s head turning 360 degrees because she’s been demon possessed, or get a little nervous at the idea of swimming in shark-infested waters, trying to escape as quickly as possible?

This list features the scariest horror movies from the 70s, including: Jaws, Alien, The Hills Have Eyes, When a Stranger Calls, and The Last House on the Left. Vote up your favorite horror movie from the 70s or add one you love that isn't already on the list.

list ordered by
Ranker Video
Jamie Lee Curtis, Kyle Richards, Donald Pleasence
Halloween is a 1978 American independent slasher horror film directed and scored by John Carpenter, co-written with producer Debra Hill, and starring Donald Pleasence and Jamie Lee Curtis in her ...more

More Halloween 

#2 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #218 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Madefeaturing Stories About Jamie Lee Curtis From Behind The Scenes Of The Original ‘Halloween’ 

Ranker Video
Max von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair
The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin, adapted by William Peter Blatty from his 1971 novel of the same name. The book, inspired by the 1949 ...more

More The Exorcist 

#313 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing Did A Malevolent Spirit Actually Curse 'The Exorcist' From The Get-Go?listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

Ranker Video
Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal
This movie is a 1974 American slasher film, directed and produced by Tobe Hooper, who cowrote it with Kim Henkel. It stars Marilyn Burns, Paul A. Partain, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow and Gunnar ...more

More The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 

#622 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #12 of 13 12+ Horror Movie Fan Theories That Make Your Favorites Even Scarierfeaturing The Most Chilling Quotes From 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre'

Ranker Video
Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm
Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott. The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo encounter the eponymous Alien, a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial set ...more

More Alien 

#52 of 254 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Timefeaturing Making ‘Alien’ Was Even More Horrific Than The Final Productlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

Ranker Video
Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Roy Scheider
Jaws is a 1975 American thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and based on Peter Benchley's novel of the same name. The prototypical summer blockbuster, its release is regarded as a ...more

More Jaws 

#47 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Moviesfeaturing Behind The Scenes Of Every Death In ‘Jaws’listed on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

Ranker Video
John Travolta, Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie
Carrie is a 1976 American supernatural horror film based on Stephen King's first major 1974 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Brian De Palma and written by Lawrence D. Cohen. The ...more

More Carrie 

#20 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #69 of 348 The Best Movies Based On Booksfeaturing The Scariest Quotes From 'Carrie' Will Have You Seeing Red

Ranker Video
Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner
The Omen is a 1976 British/American supernatural horror film directed by Richard Donner. The film stars Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Harvey Spencer Stephens, Billie Whitelaw, Patrick ...more

More The Omen 

#294 of 625 The Greatest Guilty Pleasure Moviesfeaturing The Omen Is One Of The Most Cursed Film Productions Ever - And Some Believe Satan Is Behind Itlisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

Ranker Video
Tom Savini, Ken Foree, James A. Baffico
This film is a 1978 Italian-American horror drama film written and directed by George A. Romero. It was the second film made in Romero's series, but contains no characters or settings from them, ...more

More Dawn of the Dead 

#54 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #199 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys

Ranker Video
Martin Kove, Steve Miner, Fred J. Lincoln
The Last House on the Left is a 1972 American exploitation-horror film written, edited, and directed by Wes Craven and produced by Sean S. Cunningham. The story is inspired by the 1960 Swedish ...more

More The Last House on the Left 

#173 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #151 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

Ranker Video
Dee Wallace, Michael Berryman, John Steadman
The Hills Have Eyes is a 1977 American exploitation-horror film written and directed by Wes Craven and starring Susan Lanier, Michael Berryman and Dee Wallace. It is about a suburan family on a ...more

More The Hills Have Eyes 

#10 of 34 The Best Scary Movies Based on True Stories #6 of 60 Horror Movie Set-Ups You'd Least Like to Be Trapped In

Ranker Video
Robert Duvall, Jeff Goldblum, Leonard Nimoy
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1978 science fiction thriller directed by Philip Kaufman, and starring Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, Veronica Cartwright, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy. ...more

More Invasion of the Body Snatchers 

#84 of 192 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made #61 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #29 of 59 The Best Movies Where the Bad Guy Wins

Ranker Video
Joan Bennett, Alida Valli, Udo Kier
Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento, co-written by Argento and Daria Nicolodi, and co-produced by Claudio and Salvatore Argento. The film stars Jessica Harper as an ...more

More Suspiria 

#103 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #285 of 582 The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

Ranker Video
Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Olivia Hussey
Black Christmas is a 1974 Canadian independent horror film directed by Bob Clark and written by A. Roy Moore. It stars Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea, Margot Kidder, Andrea Martin, Marian Waldman ...more

More Black Christmas 

#155 of 782 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #111 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

Ranker Video
Angus Scrimm, A. Michael Baldwin, Reggie Bannister
Phantasm is a 1979 American horror film directed, written, photographed, co-produced, and edited by Don Coscarelli. It introduces the Tall Man. He is opposed by a young boy, Mike, who tries to ...more

More Phantasm 

#108 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #43 of 128 The Best Horror Movie Franchises

Ranker Video
matt-stokes added
George C. Scott, Melvyn Douglas, Barry Morse
The Changeling is a 1980 Canadian/American horror film directed by Peter Medak. Its plot follows an esteemed New York City composer who relocates to Seattle, where he moves into a mansion he ...more

More The Changeling 

#168 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #64 of 113 The Best Intelligent Horror Moviesfeaturing The Terrifying True Haunting Of A Denver Home That Inspired 'The Changeling'

Ranker Video
Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Edward Woodward
The Wicker Man is a 1973 British mystery horror film directed by Robin Hardy and written by Anthony Shaffer. The film stars Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, and ...more

More The Wicker Man 

#111 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #58 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

Ranker Video
Carol Kane, Charles Durning, Rachel Roberts
When a Stranger Calls is a 1979 psychological horror film. It was directed by Fred Walton and stars Carol Kane and Charles Durning. The film derives its story from the classic folk legend of ...more

More When a Stranger Calls 

#112 of 782 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #46 of 146 The Best and Scariest Psychological Thrillers of All Time

Ranker Video
LilMBlue added
James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger
The Amityville Horror is a 1979 American supernatural horror film, directed by Stuart Rosenberg, based on Jay Anson's bestselling 1977 novel of the same name. It is the first film in the ...more

More The Amityville Horror 

#107 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #13 of 113 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

Ranker Video
Roddy McDowall, Michael Gough, Pamela Franklin
The Legend of Hell House is a 1973 British horror film directed by John Hough and based on the American novel Hell House by Richard Matheson, who also wrote the screenplay. The film stars Pamela ...more
Ranker Video
dee123 added
Karen Black, George Gaynes, Gregory Harrison
Trilogy of Terror is a made-for-television anthology horror film, first aired as an ABC Movie of the Week on March 4, 1975. The film, directed by Dan Curtis, starred Karen Black. All three ...more
Ranker Video
Clint Eastwood, Donna Mills, Jessica Walter
Play Misty for Me is a 1971 American psychological thriller film, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, in his directorial debut. Jessica Walter and Donna Mills co-star. The original music ...more

More Play Misty for Me 

#95 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #507 of 548 The Greatest Movies for Guys #26 of 45 The Best Movies Starring Clint Eastwood

Ranker Video
dee123 added
Vincent Price, Caroline Munro, Joanna Lumley
The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a 1971 British horror film starring Vincent Price and American actor Joseph Cotten. Its art deco sets, dark humour and performance by Price have made the film and ...more
Ranker Video
JbLee added
Jim Hutton, Kim Darby, Barbara Anderson
Don't Be Afraid of the Dark is an American made-for-television dark fantasy film directed by John Newland and starring Kim Darby and Jim Hutton. It was released by Lorimar Productions and was ...more
Ranker Video
JbLee added
Dennis Weaver, Jacqueline Scott, Lou Frizzell
Duel is a 1971 television thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Richard Matheson, based on Matheson's short story of the same name. It stars Dennis Weaver as a terrified ...more

More Duel 

#1,055 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #60 of 591 The Best '70s Movies

Ranker Video
dee123 added
Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, Oliver Reed
Burnt Offerings is a 1976 mystery horror film based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Robert Marasco. Directed by Dan Curtis, the film stars Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, Lee H. ...more

More Burnt Offerings 

#447 of 796 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #279 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #2 of 18 Obscure Horror Movies from the 1970s You Should Know About