Pillars of Horror II: 1970’s horror classics



Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn on set during the filming of The Exorcist. Photo credit: Image from Wikimedia Commons, taken Feb 12th 1974. (Public Domain)

Rafael Magana, Staff Writer

Hello, and welcome back to Pillars of Horror!

Each week we will be looking at a different decade of horror movies and examine what made them so iconic.

This week, we’ll be looking at the 1970s!


The 1970s was still a stressful time for Americans after the great trials that they experienced during the 1960s. Although the Vietnam War had almost come to an end, Americans saw the Watergate scandal with their very eyes and the events that would eventually lead to the increasingly hot Cold War in the 1980s were slowly developing.

Yet, all this stress did not stop filmmakers from producing quality horror films. We’ll be looking at two today: The Exorcist and Halloween.


The Exorcist:

The Exorcist is a 1973 adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel of the same name. Directed by William Friedkin, the film follows the possession of 12-year-old Regan Macneil (famously portrayed by Linda Blair) by the demon Pazuzu and the efforts of two priests and their shared goal to free her of the possession.

The film was notable for its graphic violence, with many reports of people apparently fainting when the movie was shown in theaters. It’s garnered controversy with many as well due to its dark subject matter but has also been recognized as one of the most important horror movies ever made, as it legitimized the horror genre to many.

The Exorcist is my personal favorite horror movie. The film nails horror in every aspect, and still terrifies viewers to this day. The grotesqueness of Regan’s possession sticks with you, and the sheer terror the audience experiences by having to watch an innocent girl deal with it is something that is still remembered by many to this day.


Halloween IS horror. It’s hard to imagine the slasher genre without it. The 1978 film directed by John Carpenter follows baby-sitter Laurie Strode (played by Jamie Lee Curtis) on Halloween night, and her fateful encounter with escaped serial killer Michael Myers. Donald Pleasance appears as Dr. Samuel Loomis, Myers’ psychiatrist who is attempting to stop his murderous rampage.

The film is notable for its masterful score, composed by Carpenter himself. Michael Myers himself ended up becoming an iconic character in cinema, solely due to his terrifying aura. The character doesn’t even speak a single word in the movie. While the film does show plenty of violence, it isn’t overly gory or graphic. The scares come from the idea of being stalked by Michael Myers, supplemented by a masterful use of music.

Michael Myers as he appears in the 2018 version of Halloween.
Michael Myers as he appears in the 2018 version of Halloween. Photo credit: Image from Wikimedia Commons/CrewHenchman – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Halloween is fondly remembered by many, even 42 years later. It established the slasher genre, and Jamie Lee Curtis’ portrayal of Laurie Strode was groundbreaking and established the well known “final girl” trope seen in horror movies. Michael Myers has lived on in the minds of many, terrifying them in the same way that he terrified Laurie Strode that fateful Halloween night.

That will be it for this week’s installment of Pillars of Horror!

Join us next week as we take a look at the 1980’s and two films that best defined that era: Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street.