MY FAVORITE MOVIES OF 1979

Cosmic and Ecological horror made this year special on the screen and page.

1979 stands high on my list of great cinematic years. A trio of my favorite films of all time came out during this particular revolution around the sun. Franchises were king. Front he established, like ROCKY II, STAR TREK gave us the first of its MOTION PICTURE franchise, and Happy Meals at McDonalds. MAD MAX launched Mel Gibson’s career and the story of the eponymous, and often enigmatic, post-apocalyptic hero; and the WARRIORS came out to play a Greek legend.

Movies based on books were big. Klaus Kinski did a stellar job with his color and sound faithful remake of NOSFERATU. I read the accompanying book in a day. APOCALYPSE NOW is a classic adaptation of Heart of Darkness, and taught us to love the smell of napalm in the morning. Tobe Hooper’s SALEM’S LOT changed Barlow to a Nosferatu like fiend, but he wasn’t near as scary as Ned in a rocking chair or Danny Gloick floating in a window. THE AMITYVILLE HORROR told Josh Brolin and MArgot Kidder to get out, as copies of the book continued to fly off shelves as if possessed by the very poltergeists alleged to inhabit the Long Island home. Martin Cruz Smith’s NIGHTWING also got the film treatment, but it was three other films, each of which has a stunning novelization written adapting their respective screenplays.

3 Disney’s idea to answer Star Wars was to make a realistic, cosmic horror science fiction film utilizing cutting edge technology and science. They achieved this feat with THE BLACK HOLE. The plot is simple, and stop me if you’ve heard this before… A scientific space expedition discovered a distress call from a ship believed lost decades before. They find the ship, and learn of diabolic circumstances on board, and a gateway to heaven… or hell. Is it EVENT HORIZON? Is it THE FLYING DUTCHMAN? Is it both? Nope!  It’s a fucking Disney movie, and the first of two screenplays we’ll talk about today, each adapted by one of the most influential writers of all time, Alan Dean Foster. Foster gets into the heads of the characters in the film and shows us their motivations. This book is as scary as any modern cosmic horror novel, as is the movie.  

2 Yep. Alan Dean Foster also did the novelization of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.  is a top 10 horror movie on most anyone’s list. It launched a decades long franchise, and cemented HR Geiger’s art as synonymous with this genre. This movie is terrifying, and like THE BLACK HOLE, it is a realistic, cosmic horror film… yadda, yadda, yadda. 

1 I’ve said it before, PROPHECY answers the question, “What if Bruce the shark worked?”. I wrote a blog on it back in June. I adore this movie and its story. It’s one of my top 10 movies of all time. In lieu of me reinventing the wheel here, you can go back and check what I think about this film, and David Seltzer’s novelization of his own screenplay.

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