A look at 12 incredible made-for-TV horror films from the ’70s and ’80s
We can credit Dan Curtis for a bulk of the wave of incredible horror movies made for the creepy cathode ray in the 1970s. Sure, terror produced for the small screen had its precedent with The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Thriller and other such stand-alone anthology programs, but it was the smash success of Curtis’ Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows that truly birthed the phenomenon of the dark, romantic and usually female-centric made-for-TV horror movies that bled out of the idiot box with regularity. Because Dark Shadows was indeed targeted towards women, specifically housewives who at the time were home to appreciate it and who thrilled to the blend of Harlequin novel bodice-ripping, bloody intrigue and supernatural horror. Curtis managed to make the answer to post-code horror movies of the 1930s, which were also romantic in nature, while also offering more literary alternatives to the wave of more graphic R-rated horror films that were becoming the post-Night of the Living Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre norm.
Outside of Curtis’ amazing output of serious-minded, scary and compact, network-friendly fright fests, plenty of other producers followed suit and now, when we look back at that ripe Golden age, we can truly appreciate these films. Sure, horror has once more become a staple of television with every other new series seeming to have its roots in the macabre and arcane, but back in the 1970s and early ’80s, these movies were a big deal and, because they were aired in primetime and easily accessible to children, an entire generation of horror fan often got their first taste of the genre via these pictures.
And what a taste it was. And still is.
In this list, we have isolated 12 of our favorite classic made-for-TV horror movies. Let us know if your favorite made the cut in the comments below!