Back in the 70s the suspense movie was something that seemed to come natural as many films employed this method to keep the audience guessing and to build up the momentum that would allow the movie to propel itself along. In several ways suspense is just another building block in any movie that allows it to further entertain the audience and create a big reveal at the right moment. Suspense movies are fun mostly because they force you to wait to see what’s going to happen and most people seem to want to know right now and have everything laid out for them.
With a good suspense movie though you’ll be literally sitting on the edge of your seat just waiting for that next moment to happen, for that one person to come along in the movie that will make everything make sense, and for the action to pop off so the growing suspense will finally make sense. Such movies aren’t always the fastest-moving when it comes to film but their buildup tends to make people anticipate and try to guess just what it is that’s going to pull the whole movie together and how much longer they have to wait for it.
Here are our picks for the five best suspense movies of the 70s:
5. The French Connection
The inclusion of drugs and crime into a movie usually ups the suspense enough, but adding in a cop that doesn’t play by the rules is another mark that gets the attention of an audience and makes for a great film. Doyle was one of those tough movie cops that you just knew was going to either get his man or get booted off the force for being to excessive in his methods. The only thing that stopped this from happening was that sometimes his hunches paid off and before criminals could start using the excuse of being traumatized at the hands of the police he was known to get results.
4. Straw Dogs
If you believe that Straw Dogs is a very messed up movie then you’re not alone. The content alone is something out of the stuff of nightmares and the suspense is enough to drive anyone off the edge when it comes to thinking how far anyone can be pushed until their more violent tendencies come bursting out. David is more or less a timid, peaceful man until those trying to break into his home to perpetrate their violence push him just a little too far. Then it becomes a game of who can last the longest and who’s willing to go the furthest to survive. In fact you could almost say that he’s not even that concerned about his wife at one point, he’s just trying to survive.
When it comes to twists and turns this movies got them to spare. It was one of the films that helped to make Jack Nicholson’s career and one that’s still remembered to this day, but despite being one of those that’s not easily remembered it’s also one that deserves to be on this list. The story is the type that allows you to really get into the characters and wonder just what’s coming around the corner next, especially since you can’t help but appreciate Nicholson’s whole take on the role.
2. Play Misty for Me
There is something so inherently disturbing about stalkers, and it’s not just the fact that they can and sometimes do get possessive, obsessive, and even violent. It’s the fact that their break with reality is something they never even pause to think about in their headlong rush into insanity. Such individuals make the lives of those they latch onto a living nightmare at times, and can affect all those that are around them in a manner that is downright scary. People like this are more than just ticking time bombs, they’re more like explosives surrounded by a poisonous gas cloud that will cause fallout whenever they decide to go off.
It shouldn’t even need to be mentioned just why this movie is on this list. Sure it’s made a lot of other lists but the suspense quotient in this movie is absolutely intense. From the musical score to the idea of being on the water when a maneater is roaming about is enough to give a lot people a serious case of the willies. Just thinking about being in the natural environment of something that kills without thought and doesn’t bother to think about who it’s taking down is enough to give even the most hardened movie fan pause. If you can recall, this movie created a widespread panic when it came out as it was believed for some time after that sharks were continuously out to get people no matter what.
The best suspense movies are those that have you gripping your seat, chewing your nails, and keep your heartbeat racing until that moment when something finally happens.