Horror in Detroit, 1976, Part One
The big hit of the Early 1976 season around the US for the Drive Ins was the arrival of Torso with the classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Of course, the infamous flick Snuff was also a talked about item when it played the Fox, but there were plenty of devilish films that toured around the US, with many of them hitting the Metro Detroit screens.
1976 was a year that many great Horror films paraded around the Urban movie houses, Drive Ins, and a few Suburban malls with Fox’s The Omen breaking through as a highly influential film which us today rightfully regarded as a classic while united Artists’ Carrie sharing the year’s most successful spot. Musically, the Hard Rock event of the year was Kiss’ Destroyer, released in March, featuring the classic “Detroit Rock City” and a production by Bob Ezrin which went above and beyond the normal Kiss album by that time. Take the two together, and you have a very good year for Horror and Shock which featured several imports, a few Major Studio films that caught the mood of the day, and some re-plays of classics that will never go away that continued Horror’s popularity through a very hit and miss time which still saw the genre mainly in the hands of the Indies who suffered a major setback when the Tax Shelters were stopped in September, 1975 – although The Neighbor to the North, Canada will soon have their Tax Shelter system which kept the genre going through the Late 70’s and Early 80’s.
One Third Feature to report before I go on – The Ecorse DI, at that time having some interesting third feature from time to time, showed Hammer’s Twins of Evil at the bottom of a bill on 1/11/76 after Eiger Sanction and The Great Waldo Pepper. Such was the programming at some DIs back in the day…
Back in the classic days of Exploitation, Winter was a time that saw imported sex comedies being the main hype, especially with the Drive Ins who played those films during the Winter for those who were lonely, curious, or having that “Not Approved” date that needed some visual stimulation, although the dramatic Matt Cimber-Directed The Witch Who Came From the Sea, one of his first breaks from Urban Action and said to have been released in Feb., but having a Motor City play on 1/18/76, arrived for mainly one-week stays. Starring Millie Perkins (Diary of Anne Frank, Wild in the Streets, Lady Coca) It’s more thought provoking nature was not the kind of thing audiences were looking for, but it survived to turn into one of the notorious “Video Nasties” of The UK as well as being a film with a following with a sharp advertising campaign.
It’s co features were a very interesting bunch which were more Horror than the star attraction at the Drive Ins.
The Bel Air had it with Asylum and Deranged
The Galaxy had it with Don’t Look in the Basement and Hunchback of the Morgue (the later starring Paul Naschy)
The Jolly Roger had it with Last House on the Left and I Drink Your Blood
The Mount Clemens had it with Shriek of the Mutilated
The Westside had it with The Sisters and Ron Garcia’s Inside Amy
On 2/1, the Palms Downtown had a diabolical double of Beyond the Door and William Girdler’s Abby
In Music, there were The Spiders and The Spiders From Mars…now 70’s Horror has their own with The Giant Spider Invasion! Bill Rebaine’s most successful film was Distributed through one of the better known Distributors of the era, Group 1 and later a well-known episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as a reputation for being a enjoyable cheap ride.
This hit played in the Metro Detroit area with some suitable “Nature on the Rampage” films that were that were the rage in 1975, but also with some just as enjoyable B flicks that have a cult of their own. Ever the go-to B of the day, The Twilight People was the main B at the Adams Downtown and at several Drive Ins: Bel Air, Ft. George, Mount Clemens, and Wayne
The Galaxy DI had it with Bug and Garden of the Dead
The Norwest had it with Stanley
The Troy had it with Bug and Sssssss.
2/20 saw the Psychic Killer arrive
Bs at the Drive Ins…
Ecorse – Nightwatch (also at the Adams) and Soldier Blue
Gratiot had it with Nightwatch and The Last House on the Left
Wayne had it with Nightwatch and Paul Wheeler’s The Terrorists (1974)
The Mount Clemens had it with Nightwatch and Don’t Look in the Basement
2/27 saw the Urban Action scene get another Horror with Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde. Sadly, this only hit the Downtown screens, but with Seven Blows of the Dragon, it was a successful double bill. The film starring Bernie Casey would later turn up on Dimension’s multi-film shows through the Late 70’s.
A monster he could not control has taken over his very soul… an ad line to remember!
While we’re on this trip, one of the greatest films of all time was brought into the Metro Area. At the Americana, Eastland, Fairlane, Kingswood, Showcase, and Southgate…Taxi Driver!
On 3/19 Peter Sadsy’s Horror starring Joan Collins played a lot through the Late 70’s in the Motor city, and this ad was one of the later ones from a few weeks later, although it played a lot more…
For a classic return engagement, being an AIP film, it played with Mark of the Devil at the Grand Circus, Gateway, Algiers DI, Bel Air DI, and the Troy DI
Over at the Jewel, fort George DI, Galaxy DI, Westside DI, it was with Seizure
Norwest DI – Abby
Radio City – Macon County Line
Ford Wyoming DI – Return to Macon County
Taylor DI – House of Dark Shadows
Pontiac DI – Mark of the Devil 1 AND 2 (for the win!!!)
It also played solo at the Carousel and Showboat.
Over at the Hip Flick house, the Cabaret, there was Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Dracula
On 3/26, there was Snuff with Kung Fu Punch of Death at the Fox and the deadly double feature at the start…and you know I have wrote about them before.