Thoughts from the ledge: Five cool 1970s horror finds

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A Taste of Evil – Roddy McDowall – Courtesy of Aaron Spelling Productions and ABC Television

A Taste of Evil (1971)

ABC was the king when it came to movies of the week. I loved the fact that during the 70’s you could actually get a network airing horror and there was no stigma attached. The best part is that Aaron Spelling, yes, the man that gave us Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty is responsible for this film.

The star of this picture was Roddy McDowall. Mr. McDowall was a childhood actor who starred in the legendary movie, Lassie Come Home. During the 60’s and 70’s, McDowall delved into the horror scene. As a matter of fact, he was in one of the Night Gallery pilot episodes that featured the work of a little-known director at that time, Steven Spielberg.

Roddy plays Dr. Michael Lomas, a psychiatrist who is helping a woman named Susan (Barbara Parkins) who has gone through a traumatic experience. She was raped at the age of 13 and then committed to an institution. After years of therapy she is released and returns to live with her mother.

By now, her mother (Barbara Stanwyck) is remarried to an alcoholic named Harold played by none other than William Windom. Windom was also another staple of television during the 60’s and 70’s. In the 80’s he wound up in the cast of Murder, She Wrote with Angela Lansbury.

A pretty decent psychological horror film, Susan becomes convinced that Harold is the person who raped her. Circumstances grow dark, she is stalked by a malevolent entity and it looks like she might be losing her sanity.

Or is she? This flick ends in a plot twist that is undeniably surprising. Definitely search for this title.

Circle of Fear – Frank Converse – Courtesy of William Castle Productions

Circle of Fear: Earth, Air, Fire and Water (1973)

This was one of my favorite television shows of the 70’s that last about two seconds on NBC. In my mind, it was a very well written series with such literary greats attached as Richard Matheson, Harlan Ellison and D.C. Fontana (Star Trek).

A particular episode, Earth, Air, Fire and Water creeped me out. When this aired in 1973, I was extremely impressionable. What made this show disturbing was the disembodied voices speaking in whisper tones. I am still shivering.

When Sam Richards (Frank Converse) joins an artist collective he and his fellow painters find ancient jars in their workspace. Intrigued with them, each person takes one. At first, they are inspired to produce but then their efforts turn dark. Eventually, they all disappear under mysterious circumstances.

If you ever want a good, solid horror anthology series, check this one out. You will not be dissatisfied.

Next: Thoughts from the ledge: Peter Weller – The Renaissance man of horror

What movies or television shows from your youth inspire you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. We want to hear from you.