Welcome to itcamefromtheseventies.com!
Once upon a time in a decade far, far away, people thrilled to movies that became legends. Grab a copy of Connie Corcoran Wilson’s great new movie review book, IT CAME FROM THE ’70s, and travel back to that time! The number of important 1970s films in the Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, and Action-Suspense genres alone is remarkable. The original summer blockbuster came from the ’70s when Steven Spielberg’s JAWS broke the surface to John William’s ominous music. George Lucas created STAR WARS and proved, accompanied by John Williams' music, that Science Fiction could make big money using computer-controlled cameras. Spielberg hit paydirt again with CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND as John Williams’ music lured friendly extraterrestrials to the Devil’s Tower. John Badham’s DRACULA, with Frank Langella, Sir Laurence Olivier, and a lush score by John Williams, gave Dracula fans the most romantic vampire to date, while Werner Herzog’s NOSFERATU, THE VAMPYRE arose as an eerie Klaus Kinski interpretation. Robert Wise’s STAR TREK THE MOTION PICTURE kept Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of humanity’s future alive and extended it into more Trek movies and several TV series. Ridley Scott’s terrifying ALIEN, designed by the Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, inspired James Cameron’s classic ’80s action epic, ALIENS. Stephen King's career received a boost when Brian De Palma’s version of King’s first novel, CARRIE, was a box office hit. John Carpenter's first HALLOWEEN stalked the screen. And beyond genre examples, Francis Ford Coppola’s career-defining successes started the decade with Marlon Brando's THE GODFATHER and ended the decade with Brando again in APOCALYPSE NOW. Sylvester Stallone made ROCKY. Jack Nicholson starred in CHINATOWN and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. John Travolta got SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. On and on. So! For the best reviews possible of 1970s movies, authentically written during the films’ original releases, read Connie Corcoran Wilson’s IT CAME FROM THE ’70s. With or without John Williams' music playing in the background, I wager you'll be glad you did!
C. Dean Andersson ("Bloodstone," "I Am Dracula")
Wilson, the inveterate movie-goer, writes like you are sitting, middle
of the theater, center, with a box of popcorn on your lap. If
anyone knows the silver screen, its hits and misses, it’s Connie Wilson.
For years, she was a valued write for the Quad City Times,
her reviews appearing several times a week. This book is not only
a good read, but also a fine reference work. It makes me think
of the days when an usher would call out, ’The best seats are now
in the balcony.’"
Associate Editor; Columnist
- Quad City Times, Davenport, Iowa
"I love this book! "It Came From the 70s" offers up a clear, patient and comprehensive view on the second golden age of movies. It does what every book of film critique should do: in addition to intelligent and concise critiques, it gives a complete synopsis and adds a delightful page of trivia points on each film. Connie Wilson’s wit and charm are on full display throughout the writing."
"The 1970’s is not the most beloved of decades. For me, the dire memories of disco fashion and the self-immolating drug culture that killed off the rebellion and social justice sought in the 1960’s is a legacy best left lost to time. White-boy Afros and Travolta-tressed, white-suited dancing fools looked as silly then as they do in retrospect.
But for fans of horror films, the seventies were a flashpoint, a chainsaw through the complacency and self-adulation that dulled the sense of the Decadent Decade. Until the truly groundbreaking George A. Romero film of 1968 (the convenient decade capsules always really did overlap), ’Night of the Living Dead,’ horror movies were usually thought of as films for children. Well, those children of the giant ants of ’Them,’ the radiated super bugs of ’Beginning of the End,’ and the early Hammer updates of the ’Dracula’ and ’Frankenstein’ films grew up with a vengeance.
Adam Simon’s terrific documentary, ’American Nightmare,’ beautifully chronicles how the wave of horror that invaded America in the seventies was a direct result of the social upheaval of the Vietnam War. Images of death and warfare were broadcast every night on television during the dinner hour. Flame-engulfed children cried as they ran in horror and agony from the napalm bombing. The filmmakers who chose violent and horrific cinema as their method of expression could not help but be influenced by the rabid fight against conformity and the rebellion against an unjust war.
Horror turned a big corner in the 70’s. Other than the Hammer vampires, the supernatural was shunted aside by a gritty, graphic violence that seemed all too close to home. Sure, there was ’The Exorcist’ and ’The Omen,"’ but that brand of the supernatural was not housed in cobwebby old castles in some foreign land long ago and far away, but in the homes of our own neighbors, if you lived in a very well-off neighborhood. We could relate to these horrors in a personal way.
The very low budget of Tobe Hooper’s masterful ’The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ made you believe that anything could happen. You didn’t recognize any of the faces from this film, and the Texas landscape laid out before you was particularly uninviting. You didn’t know what these madmen behind this film were capable of showing you. And with a title like that, you knew that graphic dismemberment must be just around the corner at any moment.
No, the 70’s weren’t about ghosts and monsters and giant bugs and radioactive beasts from 20,000 fathoms. They were about the madness of a society of individuals that were capable of... well, of just about anything. Manson and his disciples were slaughtering the rich and famous in the hills of Beverly in 1969. David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and the Hillside Strangler duo of Buono and Bianchi were plying their grisly trade in a far more horrifying and personal manner than any reanimated corpse stitched together by a mad doctor in a crumbling European castle.
There was a variety in the horror films of the 1970’s, but the most overwhelming aspect of it was that it could happen to you. That was a revolution in tales of terror. Before Romero’s zombies came back from the dead to consume human flesh, there was always a wall of remove between audiences and their fear films. Yes, ’Psycho’ in 1960 had its brief wave of imitators, but it wasn’t until the seventies that the monsters of the Id had overcome the Id monsters of ’Forbidden Planet.’ We weren’t confronting intergalactic monsters now. That wouldn’t come back until George Lucas reignited that fuse brilliantly as the decade was growing old, with ’Star Wars’ in 1977.
It was also a time when censorship was waning, even disappearing. When the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America) created their ratings system in 1968, it created a warning system for parents, but it also freed up filmmakers, independent, to tell more adult tales. When the ratings began, "X" did not automatically denote sex or porn: ’Midnight Cowboy,’ one of Hollywood’s most respected films of the era, was saddled with an X rating, without suffering any pariah effects. Way back then, movies were made and then rated, whereas now, movies are made to fit into a particular rating. But it set the filmmakers considerably freer than in the past, and, arguably, even more free than they are today.
So, when you remove the restrictions on newly minted creative talents, the results will be explosive and often exploitative. There’s no wonder that the seventies were so unbridled, so wild, so eager to shock. Yes, there were plenty of Christopher Lee ’Dracula’ movies in the seventies, but they were outnumbered by the independent moviemakers with not much money but lots of ideas, who were eager to shock you out of that complacency. Making a horror movie, in particular, required no movie stars, thought the success of the genre led many, like Gregory Peck and Lee Remick in ’The Omen,’ to participate. Films could often make their mark just by being more extreme than anything you had seen on the screen before.
Major new talents who would go on to become the most exciting and influential practitioners of cinematic horror were introduced in this amazing decade of film-schooled filmmakers: Carpenter (whose ’Halloween’ in 1978 became the most mimicked), Hooper, Craven, Scorsese, Coppola, DePalma... they would go on for decades to provide stimulating and original and trailblazing films.
It was an important turning point for the horror film genre, in particular and one that Connie Corcoran Wilson has studiously limned in the pages that follow. This book is a wonderful and inclusive chronicle of the 1970s."Mick Garris, American Filmmaker/Screenwriter/
"Though there is no single definitive ’Golden Age of Hollywood,’ the 1970’s was certainly one of the best decades for movies. In the fertile spread of 10 years, many of my favorite films were made: ’Alien,’ ’Dirty Harry,’ ’Apocalypse Now,’ ’The Exorcist,’ ’The In-Laws,’ ’Chinatown,’ ’The French Connection,’ ’Close Encounters of the Third Kind,’ ’The Godfather’ (Parts I and II), ’Star Wars.’ The list goes on and on. Connie Corcoran Wilson’s collection of movie reviews, written between 1970 and 1979 when she was the Quad City Times film critic, and now collected in a single volume, is an excellent companion piece for anyone who lives the movies."
Mike Romkey, Author of I, Vampire; Moline (IL) Dispatch newspaper.