'We Dare You to See This!': Ballyhoo and the 1970s horror film

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In the 1970s, several young, innovative directors released horror films that benefited from the techniques of exploitation marketing. These films became infamous not only because they delivered a level of violence and brutality that had rarely been seen by audiences before, but also because they were attached to brilliant marketing schemes hearkening back to the ballyhoo techniques used in vaudeville and the sideshows of the early twentieth century. This article examines the marketing campaigns for The Last House on the Left (1972), The Exorcist (1973) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) exploring how these campaigns helped to drive the controversy surrounding the films, and also how they influenced audience reception.


Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/host.2.1.61_1

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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