Classic monsters in the 1970’s

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Classic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman dominated horror in the 30’s and a large part of the 40’s. Maybe WW2 scared people more than those monsters as their popularity faded around the end of the war. The  1950’s saw invaders from other planets as well as plenty of giant beasties. However by the end of the decade Hammer films decided to revive the classic monsters and Dracula, Frankenstein, the mummy and others lived again. This new found interest in old creatures kept on through the 1960’s. However films like Rosemary’s Baby and the Night of the living dead popped up at the end of the decade and they showed audiences scarier things than dusty vampires and creaky mummies. By the early 1970’s Hammer was trying to keep their monsters going, but tried different takes on some of them like bringing Dracula into modern times, making a Frankenstein comedy and having a mummy’s curse film with a beautiful woman instead of a bandaged sack of dry flesh. However films the Exorcist and the Texas chainsaw massacre were outdoing the gothic tales of Hammer and by the middle of the decade the studio that dripped blood was almost done. In Spain Paul Naschy was starring in films with mostly werewolves and some vampires. He stayed busy for a long time and actually the 70’s was a very good time for this sort of film in Spain as far as amount of films they made. These films had their audiences but they certainly didn’t their genre as they usually went by the same old very basic formula that we have seen over and over. Vampires have always been the monster that seems to show up in the most films and despite the decrease in classic monster films overall in the 70’s the blood suckers still did alright. Maybe the middle of the decade didn’t see too many films, but 1979 saw a relative explosion of vampire films with remakes of Dracula and Nosferatu plus Salem’s Lot , the spoof Love at first bite and on TV the short lived show Cliffhangers had the Curse of Dracula series. The phantom of the opera saw a 70’s glam rock revival in the all too overlooked Phantom of the paradise. On the small screen it seemed variety shows all had to have a Halloween episode normally with someone dressing as a square headed Frankenstein monster or somewhere in traditional Dracula outfit complete with cape and a bad Bela Lugosi impersonation. For me the most memorable small screen classic monster show of the 1970’s was the one season show The monster squad. Made by some of the same people that did the 60’s Batman show this had an even stronger camp element to it and featured wax figures of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman that could come to life to fight would be master criminals including a mummy, a skeleton, a witch and more. As far as classic monsters go I think it was split between movies and shows that tried new takes on the character and ones that either spoofed the classic version or just did the same old thing. As someone who grew up in this decade and developed a love for classic monsters in this decade I was glad to see enough attempts at keeping the characters going or re-inventing them.

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