Popular Horror films theatrical posters and how
they fit in with conventions
By Luke Thomas
Freaks (1932)
The film makers name is included on
the film poster, and this is one of the
first uses of this on Horror fil...
Psycho (1960)
Cast list on the side,
unconventional to a modern
audience
Inclusion of the directors (Alfred
Hitchcock's) n...
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Got a low budget, B- Movie or
exploitive horror film aesthetic
Tagline is the largest piece...
Jaws (1975)
This is perhaps one of the most iconic
film posters of all time. It does this
maybe for perfectly capturing th...
The Omen (1976)
Silhouette, unnerving and full of
mystery. The fact it is a child's
silhouette is also mysterious, the
aud...
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead
is perhaps the most iconic zombie film of all
time. It...
Halloween (1978) One of the most well known and
most critically and publically
acclaimed slasher horrors, it’s
theatrical ...
Alien (1979)
This is one of the first crossovers
of Horror and Sci-Fi. This poster
mixes elements from both of these
genre...
Friday the13th (1980)
Outline of the murderer frames
the poster, everyone is dwarfed
by this image
Blood drops from the kn...
Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Black and red poster, matches Freddy
Krueger's iconic outfit and also links
to the horror g...
Scream (1996)
Like most horror films, there is
a tagline for the film at the
time. This film acts as a sort of
parody of t...
Saw (2004)
Saw is a very disturbing series of
films about self discovery through
horrible circumstances. Despite it
seemin...
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Paranormal Activity is one of the
first major viral horror films, in the
way that its popularit...
Sinister (2012)
With its masthead it names popular
recent horror films in the hope it will
attract similar audiences from ...
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Existing Horror Film Posters

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Existing Horror Film Posters

  1. 1. Popular Horror films theatrical posters and how they fit in with conventions By Luke Thomas
  2. 2. Freaks (1932) The film makers name is included on the film poster, and this is one of the first uses of this on Horror film posters. Tod Browning was famed the year previously for directing the classic Dracula. Using names on horror posters are often used in Wes Cravens and John Carpenters horror films A tagline for the film, which will draw the audiences of the time in with its freak show elements and obscure nature Short name, catches the eye and contrasts with the background MGM logo, shows which company made the film, more recognition for the company Obscure image of a midget kissing a lady, fits the weird freak show elements of the film Cast List in middle of poster, if they were popular names from vaudeville or the theatre it will further attract attention for the film, considering it was made before film trailers and other means of advertising Unusual Colour scheme of Yellow and Red, perhaps to make it look more like a circus or freak show which fits the setting of the film One of the earliest sound horror films and also one of the first to gain notoriety. It was banned for around 70 years and is still rated a 15, compared to similar films like Frankenstein and Dracula which are rated PG
  3. 3. Psycho (1960) Cast list on the side, unconventional to a modern audience Inclusion of the directors (Alfred Hitchcock's) name above the films title, this attracts audiences of his previous films (Vertigo, North by Northwest, Rear Window etc.) who will want to watch this, expecting similar thrills as to what was experienced in the other films Woman is wearing a bra and skirt, very sexualised imagery and particularly scandalous for the time. She is the tragic woman in he film but despite this has the largest image on the poster, perhaps to attract the audience through curiosity. She is pictured yellow, which is often the colour of playfulness and innocence, but also of mischief, perhaps expressing her want for sexuality. This also lessens the reality of her semi nudity, which probably helped it get past censors Poster made up of Primary colours (Red, yellow and blue) and monochrome. Made to look even childlike which mirrors Norman Bate’s psychotic yet child like mentality Norman Bates (The Antagonist) is all in red, the colour of anger and rage. Despite being the lead actor, his image is not the largest, giving more of a mystery to the films plot and to emphasise the sexuality of Janet Leigh The Psycho typography is torn up, perhaps to represent Bate’s torn up mentality. The yellow contrasts with the black background, helping it to stand out more. Unconventional and iconic The tagline makes out that the film is one of a kind, which contextually it really was. The 3 exclamation marks really raise the excitement for the release of the film, in a time before other ways of advertising
  4. 4. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) Got a low budget, B- Movie or exploitive horror film aesthetic Tagline is the largest piece of text on the poster, a rhetorical question to fill the potential audience with curiosity Image from the film of a torture scene, one of the only slasher films that doesn’t keep the main villain a mystery, further showing the exploitive nature of the film Title is in red, perhaps like the blood in the tortures and a cliché colour for the horror genre on a whole. The quotation marks further give the idea that the events are “real”, like a quote from the news/ a newspaper. The chainsaw is going through the text America’s most bizarre and brutal crimes!- links it to reality, scares the audience to think this could happen in real life The footer tagline again creates a sense of verisimilitude, of being based on a true story Footer text, which contains the cast and production information, and the films official rating (R)
  5. 5. Jaws (1975) This is perhaps one of the most iconic film posters of all time. It does this maybe for perfectly capturing the mood and atmosphere of the film The events captured in the image are happening in the day time and it is light. This is horrific as the monster the shark does not stick to conventions like other horror monsters by coming out at night, and sums up the feeling that it can strike at any time The title Jaws is perfectly contrasts with the image so stands out o the audience knows and remembers the title of the film. The title is short and snappy, so is easier for the audience to remember Woman on poster seems content and happy, doesn’t know what’s coming Header links the film to the book, “Terrifying”- a buzz word in most horror what ever the medium Footer with all the information, including the rating system Main actors involved with the film, well known names to attract potential audiences to the film
  6. 6. The Omen (1976) Silhouette, unnerving and full of mystery. The fact it is a child's silhouette is also mysterious, the audience will question why this child is given evil connotations. His shadow is a wolf, representative of power, wildness and evil. It seems to be burrowing down, as if running to hell. Drawn like a cave drawing, ancient evil that juxtaposes with the innocence of youth Monochrome colour scheme, conventional of the Horror genre The only colour on the poster is with The Omen typography, which helps it stand out on the poster . It is also the colour of blood and evil, which helps connote the horror aspect of the film Gregory Peck, the major actor involved in the film, is the one who is the major face of this poster. If he and the lady are where the light is coming from on the poster (Symbolic of good and religion) Damien (the child) is turning away from it, facing the wolf and the evil nature, and the blackness of the poster Unusual tagline, goes all the way down the page to link to the title, adding the oddity of the child and the mystery of the film Footer- Gives extra film information
  7. 7. Dawn of the Dead (1978) George A. Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead is perhaps the most iconic zombie film of all time. It also follows on from low budget cult classic Night of the Living Dead, also by Romero Pink sky, typical of early morning, which usually ahs connotations of peace and has here been warped Tagline to advertise the film, explicitly linking the zombie theme of dead rising, and that they’ve been turned away from Hell shows that they will be evil Inclusion of the Directors name and previous film, hoping to garner audiences from his other films Zombies head replaces the sun in the “Dawn”. Half of the face is pink, to show the humanity, then the other half is red to show the evil. The duality in the characters over whether they are still people or not is one of the questions set by this films poster Stylistically and iconically written title, which has been copied and mimicked many times from similar films. Is now synonymous with the genre. The red is conventional with the genre and contrasts with the black background Footer information
  8. 8. Halloween (1978) One of the most well known and most critically and publically acclaimed slasher horrors, it’s theatrical poster is possibly one of the most instantly recognizable Conventional tagline for a horror film. Sets up the mystery over who He is. Home has conventions of warmth and togetherness of family, but here it is used negatively as the set up for the murders. The white lettering contrasts with the black background Black, Orange and Red colour scheme, typical colours for the Halloween holiday, links with the title Pumpkin and knife mix the iconic Halloween image and the murders that will take place in the film, which actually makes this particularly iconic Large header of the name Halloween. Halloween is one of the most iconic horror holiday’s and the names simplicity has garnered it a lot of public acclaim Got all the cast on the bottom, so it doesn’t clutter up the minimalistic poster
  9. 9. Alien (1979) This is one of the first crossovers of Horror and Sci-Fi. This poster mixes elements from both of these genres Black colour scheme, common in the Horror Genre, which mixes with the green colour scheme, the conventional and most commonly used colour for the sci-fi genre The Alien title is a very minimalistic header, being spelt out like an old computers text, further expressing the sci-fi aspects of the film. Just calling the film Alien creates a mystery as to what type of aliens would appear in the film, that it all unfolds as a mystery for the characters and the audience as much as it does to someone who views the poster Conventional Horror tagline “In Space no one can hear you scream” which also has science fiction elements of space Conventional of almost all film posters since the 60’s, all the relevant cast and company information is in the footer The main image is that of a mysterious egg. This creates a mystery within the poster as to what the contents of the egg are, and also fits in with the sci-fi mystery. The fact it is an egg also further argue the feminist argument of the film, that it is a wholly female dominated and an egg is a representation of women and birth. It doesn’t have any images of the cast, which further creates the mystery
  10. 10. Friday the13th (1980) Outline of the murderer frames the poster, everyone is dwarfed by this image Blood drops from the knife on to the 13, links the title to the murders and gore that will be in the film Through the silhouette of the murderer you see the setting; a wood cabin in the middle of a forest. This is a standard setting in most Horror films and is very cliché. In this image you also see some of the main characters, who aren’t in focus as they are placed in the film as pawns to be killed. The fact they are in the murderers silhouette shows that they will be the focus of the murders Friday the 13th is one of the most well known horror franchises, but at first no one knew who the murderer would be, so it is set up as a mystery Tagline, links into the films title, which is synonymous with bad luck Footer for all the information Stylised title, conventional for a horror film with quite a generic name Black, red and white colour scheme, stereotypical horror colours
  11. 11. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) Black and red poster, matches Freddy Krueger's iconic outfit and also links to the horror genre as a whole One of the most Iconic Horror films of all time, and as such the poster for the first in the franchise is well recognised, despite not having the main character (Krueger) on it The headers text is simple and contrasts with the background Main image of the poster denotes a naked woman asleep in bed, but being consciously aware of the presence of Krueger. This is extremely sexualised, perhaps to get audiences wanting exploitation. Feminist reading of this is that the man is the monster and has power over the young woman Freddy’s iconic glove is shown, but he is shown as quite skeletal and dead, shrouded in mystery Usually safe environment (Bed) being turned terrifying by Krueger's presence Inclusion of Wes Cravens name above the title, attracts audiences from his other films who will expect the same level of shocks Footer- Gives film information Stylised writing of the title, Nightmare is written like blood. Contrast between the two styles of writing, how the peaceful Elm Street gets a bloody nightmare. Contrasts with the background
  12. 12. Scream (1996) Like most horror films, there is a tagline for the film at the time. This film acts as a sort of parody of the slasher horror genre, so the tagline explicitly links it to the scary movie genre Contrasting image, very bold and stylized Image of woman, typical conventions which this film is mocking is the stock character in Horror films of the “Virgin” Ensemble cast, so cast list is put on the poster to attract potential audiences to the film Details the name of the director Wes Craven, famed for the cult masterpiece Nightmare on Elm Street, and noted as one of the most iconic Horror directors Blue eyes, connotes purity Mouth covers up the woman's mouth, perhaps to stop her screaming, links to the title The Scream title, written stylistically so it would be noticeable. Is a short and memorable name Footer contains all the important information for the film
  13. 13. Saw (2004) Saw is a very disturbing series of films about self discovery through horrible circumstances. Despite it seeming very exploitive from the start due to the graphic depictions of violence, it does have a very clever message about appreciating life This is most likely a teaser poster for the film, as it doesn’t give much information on the film, and doesn’t hold some of the conventional film poster feature, such as cast list, tagline etc. A rotting arm is the main image featured on the poster, a symbolic trademark of Saw and also a hint as to what its major themes will be (self mutilation)Hospital or bathroom tiles on the floor, conventional setting for a film about torture. The white floor is odd for a dark horror film, but you can see the dirt within the cracks, perhaps a message that Jigsaw can see the dirt within humanity, that we don’t appreciate the cleanness of our lives and don’t appreciate it, which is the major message behind the film The Saw text is written stylistically, meaning that the audience will quickly be able to recognize the films brand. It contrasts with the white background. The name Saw is also short and memorable Monochrome colour scheme, back to basics Conventional Footer Information Blood and hole through the wrist, perhaps a representation of Jesus with stigmata, that these people die for their sins
  14. 14. Paranormal Activity (2007) Paranormal Activity is one of the first major viral horror films, in the way that its popularity spread over the internet and from mouth to mouth rather than a solid advertising campaign, Before this Blair Witch Project managed to be spread through word of the mouth, but this is one of the first that the internet viral campaign worked so well for the films popularity Header is mostly made up of critical and acclaim, guaranteeing its shock value for the audience Very poor quality image, taken from security footage, constructed because of its “Real life” aspects and most of the film is made up of security footage. Doesn’t actually show anything supernatural but it is an example of a normally safe environment becoming haunted The Paranormal Activity typography seems to flicker and is distorted, links to the ghost genre Stereotypical tagline, conventional for the genre and to question a seemingly innocent time, when you are at your most vulnerable. Rhetorical question helps add mystery to the film and directs and involves the audience Unusual Footer, helping to promote the film virally and spread its popularity. Gives us link to the website to demand it.
  15. 15. Sinister (2012) With its masthead it names popular recent horror films in the hope it will attract similar audiences from these films. Even though only a few members of the crew from these two films woken on Sinister, the inclusion of these big brand names helps garner fans of these films, who will expect the same level of shocks Little blonde girl, connotes innocence. She is wearing pyjamas which further gives the image of her being innocent and childlike, but this juxtapositions with the blood on the wall, constructed to unnerve the audience. The them of innocence (Particularly children) becoming corrupted by evil is a common feature of the Horror Genre, a classic example being the little girl in the classic horror The Exorcist Monochrome colour scheme, conventional for the Horror Genre As we now live in a more media literate age, in he footer there is the inclusion of the Twitter and Facebook widget, helping potential audiences to access more information on the film multimedia on the major social networking sites. The coming soon sign adds anticipation to the films wide release Sinister is one of the more recent popular horror films, that was released in 2012 Stylised title, constructed to keep in fitting with the sinister themes of the film Tagline under the title, a declarative and unnerving statement which is conventional for the genre Picture on the wall, made from blood which denotes there will be gore in the film. This also shows the face of the main antagonist of the film. The face seems to be staring at you, helping you to feel like your part of the horror unfolding and to unnerve and shock the audience

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