Hello horror fans, and... Wait a minute... TWO articles in ONE DAY?! Doesn't this guy have a LIFE?! I'm Tony, and I'm here to appeal to all you future horror film makers who just so happened to stumble onto this article! As I say in every third article (give or take), I watch a TON of horror movies. And that means two things. First, I love horror above almost any other genre. I say "almost" because I consider exploitation to be its own genre, and NOTHING beats a good B-movie. That's a story for another time. Where were we? Oh yes, the second consequence of watching oodles of horror is the UNLIMITED supply of shit horror. We've all faced it down. The movie store's options dwindle with every passing weekend, and you are trying desperately to justify renting that extremely low-budget, shot-on-shitteo, self-distributed piece of $1.75 trash in your hands, and because you're so desperate for a fix, you do it.
I make no apologies for calling out Leprechaun or Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, or any of the other 196,047 shitty horror movies I've watched in my 21 years of life. I just want to make the world a scarier, and therefore better, place. From one horror fanatic to another, if you're going to make a movie, I need you to listen to the fan inside, and ME! I'm going to dictate to you the six things I want to see (or DON'T want to see) from you, Mr./Ms. Future Famous Director!
#1: DON'T REHASH OLD TRASH!!
Okay, if you REALLY want to do a remake, there are rules. First, DON'T remake something that has been made less than 20 years ago! I don't care what kind of sick stacks of cash you'll make. Don't sell out, man. Also, MAKE IT YOUR OWN!!! For the love of all that is horrific, make the story somewhat different to the original! There's nothing I hate more than a remake that brings nothing new to the table. However, I believe I speak for quite a number of horror lovers when I say REMAKES ARE KILLING HORROR. Feel free to click that link if you want the full argument against remakes, but for now, we're movin' right along!
#2: USE PRACTICAL EFFECTS!!
Okay, so you're on the way to making an ORIGINAL horror movie. Great. Your second obstacle to overcome is the urge to do things with CGI. While CGI can be useful from time to time, it often ends up looking like this:
See how shitty that looks? I know, I know, "Why is he referencing Battle Royale 2 in a "How To Make Good Horror" article?!" Well, because the movie could have been awesome, and because it has MANY prime examples of CGI gone wrong. So do a TON of modern movies these days, as a matter of fact! The biggest reason why the remake of Evil Dead is so badass is BECAUSE IT USES PRACTICAL EFFECTS! Your gore, or even just blood, will look 1,000,000 times better if it's really in front of the camera! Please don't fall into the trap of making your life easier with a little Windows Paint touch up.
#3: Don't Overuse Jump Scares!
Good, you're using practical effects on an original movie! You're almost halfway to film making greatness. You know what really makes a movie scary? Building up tension GRADUALLY. You know what really pisses off people? Jump-scaring the shit out of them every ten minutes! There wouldn't be horror without jump scares, and one or two is great. Franklin's death in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is a perfect example. The end of Friday the Thirteenth is another. But using them too liberally sucks all the anticipation out of your movie and, frankly, diminishes the quality of your work. Your scares become cheap instead of exhilarating, and people start to be watching for the next surprise frightening rather than for your subtle genius! I know it's in there, so use it! Don't waste your talent or our movie money on boring old shit. Bring us exciting, heart-pounding, HORRIFYING slow burns! At least don't scald us right away!
#4: Color Outside The Lines!
No, wait, I didn't mean LITERALLY color outside the lines! Fuck! I meant do things people don't normally do when making movies! For instance, try writing characters that are actually likable if you're doing a slasher! Maybe use different weapons to kill protagonists besides surgical and/or power tools! Make your villain sympathetic! Whatever you do, unless you're specifically making a parody or a B-movie, AVOID TROPES AT ALL COSTS! That's all I have to say on that note. Also, avoid paranormal and found footage movies, because the current market is SOOOOO SATURATED right now! ENOUGH!!!
#5: Use Quality Actors!
When all is said and done, if you're audience doesn't connect with your characters, nobody will give a shit about them! And if that happens, your movie will NOT BE SCARY. Obviously, good writing is part of a great horror film, but what you really need are mid-to-top tier actors in your flick! That doesn't have to mean established stars, although those can boost the credibility of your flick, but grab some boys and girls who can actually convey emotion and make a script come alive! Nobody will feel fear if the characters are inconsequential. Most horror characters suck these days because nobody cares about acting, and that is a HUGE MISTAKE! Please consider visiting your local university or college to scout TALENT, not just TITS. Although a little T + A never hurt a horror film. We're almost there, folks, so hang on! This last one's the toughest!
#6: Write An Excellent Ending!!!
Now, I love a movie that can bring the chills to my spine. I love it when a director can take a traumatic vision and bring it to life. There is something missing from the cast majority of horror movies these days, though. GOOD ENDINGS! Now, don't misunderstand here. I don't mean the protagonist has to get away alive, or that the "good" will triumph over the "evil". A good ending means it's provocative, thoughtful, possibly shocking, and most of all, a great payoff for the 89 minutes the audience has invested in your flick! Don't forget to wrap your masterpiece in a soul-rattling bow and leave us with something to remember you by! This DOES NOT mean a twist ending, necessarily! All we want is an ending that fits; an ending that works with the rest of the film; an ending that makes us glad we watched your year's worth of hard work and dedication.
Don't say another word, except ACTION! I hope this shed some light on the basics for you! Please comment below on what YOU want to see in your horror, and thanks as always for checking it out!