It’s not secret that I’ve come to love Italian horror very much. It started with movies like Zombie or Bay of Blood and a few others. Zombie was always available to buy and one of the easiest to come by. Mario Bava’s Bay of Blood was harder to find but worth it. To be honest, the only reason I wanted to see it, Friday the 13th part II. They mention it as “Twitch of the Death Nerve”. With a title like that, I needed to see it, just took some time.
By the time I started the Horror Syndicate, I’d only seen three or four, adding Suspiria and City of the Living Dead to my short list. Then meeting Jared Letourneau, my Italian horror love was ramped up by a lot. He told me all about Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Mario Bava and Sergio Martino. I began ordering Italian horror DvD and Blu Rays, like they were going out of style…oddly enough physical media is going out of style.
I remember watching movies like Lisa and the Devil, The Beyond and others with my late wife Elizabeth. The expression on her face was priceless, she’d always look at me and say, “What in the hell did we just watch?” I’d smile and tell her I love these movies.
I’d say the height of Italian horror was from 1971 to 1981, I may be wrong, but there are so many Giallo films, Cannibal films and splatter Zombie movies in that time. It really started to trickle in the mid-80s, even with Demons and Demons 2 being released. Really the last great Italian horror film was Dellamorte Dellamore in 1995.
This time I am going to focus on Italian horror of the 1970s. It is almost the rise and fall of the Giallo. I will do a list of the more main stream 70s films as well, but Italian films need my attention now.
Remember, this list is based of the films I have actually seen and of course these are my favorites, it doesn’t mean they are the best or worst.
10. Autopsy (1975)
One day I was having lunch in my car, last October and decided to jump on Tubi to watch some horror. Autopsy popped up and I had never heard of it. I watched the first 15 minutes and I had to stop, go to Amazon and buy a copy. There is a bunch of crazy suicides at the beginning of the film and then it turns into a Giallo with its twists, turns and sleeze. It is worth a watch and is currently on Tubi.
9.The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Placing of this one may upset the Giallo lovers out there. Don’t get me wrong, this is a top notch Giallo and worth owning. The opening scene really sets the film off and you’re hooked immediately.
8. A Bay of Blood (1971)
I had a hard time placing this one at number 8, but there are so many of these films I love and still a bunch I had to leave off. Twitch of the Death Nerve was one of the first Italian horror films I watched. Some may call it Giallo, but it is a damn fine Slasher as well and it influenced a few filmmakers of the 1980s. See Friday the 13th part 2.
7. All the Colors of the Dark (1972)
Giallos are weird by nature. But, Edwige Fenech seems to be in the oddest of them all. All the Colors of the Dark is like an acid trip with plenty of sleeze and a great tension. It may be her finest role and this is absolutely one to watch. Be ready for a trippy experience.
6. Torso (1973)
Italian films don’t get enough credit. A Giallo is a mystery film and some can be considered early Slashers. Torso brings you the mystery of “who did it” and great Slasher kills and the end is pretty amazing. Seriously check out Tubi, Torso is streaming on Tubi.
5. The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue (1974)
I really love Italian films and their alternate titles. This one has two really good titles, the one listed above and “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie”. Two great titles for one really good and early zombie movie. The really great thing about this movie is Ray Lovelock as George. He is kind of a prick to everyone he interacts with it is hilarious. But there is more to this movie and I think some good early effects and make-up jobs. This one is streaming on Vudu for free, check it out.
4. Shock (1977)
This is Mario Bava’s final film and he left us with a good one. It is a really odd movie about a woman haunted played by Daria Nicolodi, who at the time was with Dario Argento. But the film is written by the likes of Lamberto Bava and Dardano Sachetti and others. Again, this one is on Tubi and possibly Shudder. This has one of the best jump scares on film. Oh and there is an odd scene where her son, who is like 8 years old tries to hump her.
3. Suspiria (1977)
Of course this is likely the most popular Italian horror film. It has been mentioned in pop culture and other horror films. Some think it is Dario Argento’s masterpiece, more on that later. Suspiria is a great movie and of course is visually stunning, but don’t forget about the score. But most horror fans have seen Suspiria, so we will move on.
2. Deep Red (1975)
This is Dario Argento’s masterpiece! Such a great movie and absolute must watch for any fan of Italian horror or Giallo fan. This is one of the better mystery films and it has a terrific twist that you wont see coming.
1. Zombie (1979)
The unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead or Italian filmmaker trying to cash in on the success of the Dawn of the Dead. Either way, Lucio Fulci’s Zombie is a gold standard for zombie films and possibly one of the greatest zombie films ever made. Top 10 easily. There great effects, plenty of gore, wood in the yes and of course topless woman swimming with sharks until a zombie comes and fights the shark. Who doesn’t love Zombie?
Well, I always want to know what you think, so please leave some comments on Facebook and let us know your favorites of the 1970s. If you’re new to Italian horror films, well here is a reference list of 50 to check out.
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