Rural Blood and Gore: 70s Horror Mini-Season

Rural Blood and Gore: 70s Horror Mini-Season

12 & 15 August 2023

In August, Depot’s Cinelogue strand screen one of the most groundbreaking and influential horror films ever produced, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To tie in with this sun-soaked horror movie, we’re bringing you the chance to see one of the most infamous video nasties to be inspired by Hooper’s film: The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven’s slyly satirical follow up to his debut film, The Last House on the Left. 

Depot’s Chair of Trustees Robert Senior on Rural Horror in 70s US Exploitation Cinema

The 1970s saw a more liberal trend in terms of film censorship, with a new breed of young directors keen to push the boundaries of what could be allowed. Two directors, Wes Craven and Tobe Hooper, focused on extreme horror, and the fears associated with serial killers such as Ed Gein. They tapped into urban fears about rural locations where young travellers could fall into the hands of butchers and cannibals. Where existed inbred deranged farm folk who would use their means of production – agricultural implements – to horrible ends.

The films were shot quickly on low budgets, using real locations, 16mm handheld cameras and non-professional actors to create a raw sense of realism. They inspired the controversial era of video nasties which was to follow.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed on location in Texas by Tobe Hooper in 1974. Despite the violent content it was released uncut in the USA but banned initially by the BBFC in the UK. It is now regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made, introducing the world to the iconic character “Leatherface”. Depot is screening a brand new 4K restoration.

Inspired by the success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the US director Wes Craven, who was to become famous for Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, also made a rural horror film called The Hills Have Eyes in 1977 with similar characteristics. It drew on the story of Sawney Bean a gang of 16th century cannibals in Scotland and explores how extreme violence turns civilised people into survivalist retribution. The Hills Have Eyes introduced the great actor Michael Berryman, who was born with the rare genetic condition hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, as Pluto.

– Robert Senior, Chair of Trustees

Films in this season