Obscure Horror Cinema: The Strange and Deadly Occurrence

by William Burns

70’s Made for TV horror movies were the gateway to the genre for many second generation monster kids. Before cable, affordable home video, and streaming media, access to horror for young fans craving any kind of thrills were hard to come by. Luckily, the major networks were desperate to compete with the incredible deluge of films coming from Hollywood and so produced their own films to keep families at home in front of the television. Quite a few of these films were firmly in the horror canon, exploring all the best horror tropes: monsters, witchcraft, devil worship, murder, and the supernatural. The most popular type of Made for TV horror film were haunted house/ghost stories, a sure fire way to get under the skin of the comfortable suburbanites watching on Saturday night. Though many of the hauntings are revealed to be  less than paranormal, the tension and eeriness of  these films frightened both adult and child alike. One of the best of these Made for TV haunted house movies is 1974’s The Strange and Deadly Occurrence. A lawyer and his family move out to the bucolic countryside into an old farmhouse. Weird things start to manifest themselves to the family but the locals are all distrustful of the city slickers Led by a sheriff played by the amazing L.Q. Jones) and refuse to help them. With screams and howls filling the night outside their home, the family must uncover the mystery of these seemingly supernatural events. The Strange and Deadly Occurrence was directed by John Llewellyn Moxey, one of the most underrated horror directors ever. Moxey directed such stone cold classics as Horror Hotel, The Night Stalker, The House That Would Not Die, Sanctuary of Fear, as well as episodes of every cool TV show that has ever aired from Kung Fu to Charlie’s Angels to Murder, She Wrote. Unfortunately, most of these Made for TV horror movies have not made it to DVD or Blu ray but here is a rough but extremely watchable version of The Strange and Deadly Occurrence:

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