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How to make a typical horror film

Updated on April 4, 2013

Typical films

We have all seen horror films and we know that horror films comes in a variety of sub categories e.g. Slasher, Thriller, Suspense, Monster, Alien, Zombie etc..The more we see, the more we begin to notice patterns emerge. There is also the hero/survivor, the girl, the bait, the haunted house, the trap and the "to be continued ending", and the eerie music.

If we are able to re-create these typical characters then one should be able to make a decent horror film as long as you have a convincing enough story. Cheesy horror movies do well among horror fans in the B movie world. There are actually many horrors that have done extremely well from the B-rank zone, e.g. Texas Chainsaw massacre.

The Hero

The hero will typically be a white handsome male (sometimes black) in recent movies. He will normally have an arrogant attitude, wanting things done his own way. If he is in the police force he will probably break every law in the book trying to solve the mystery or crime. The hero will probably know some martial arts skills or other fighting skills. The Hero must never die but at some point in the film maybe captured or tortured.

The Girl

Every hero has to have a female partner to distract him. She will usually be a very attractive women who complicates things and gets into constant danger so the hero/star has to save her. There are times where she may be abducted for long periods of the film, so retrieving her is the story and the end of the film. Otherwise she is there to just slow him down. Other women in the film who are not so hot will have a higher chance of dying earlier on unless they are very intelligent and/or tough enough to defend themselves.

The security guard

We all know security guards don't last long in horror films, they often die early and grisly. Especially ones with a typical cheap looking blue uniform and weak gun. Use an actor who has limited acting skills for this role. A large number of security will be best as they can be taken out one by one and add to the suspense and the killer gets closer to the hero or main star.

The old mysterious man

Your horror film will not be complete without some crazy old man who seems to know about the dangers and tries to warn people. Usually resembles some homeless drunk, people think it's just some crazy old man and ignore him.

He may appear later on in the film to say "I told you so", he may even sacrifice his own life to save everyone.

The Black Man

The black man would often die first in older horror flicks but not these days. A black man in a horror film (usually a rapper) is very likely to survive to the end. With often a tough man image he may give the villain, beast, alien or whatever it is a good run for it's money. Oh, and if the main hero gets the pretty white girl (co-star), the black man will probably be getting it on with one of the other survivors. She probably wouldn't be full black though, rather mixed raced with very light skin and soft flowing straight hair.

The Asian man

Now we have two types of Asians who could play this role. It would either be Chinese or Japanese usually. In the case of Chinese, it would probably be someone who knows kung-fu because we can't have a horror/action film with a Chinese guy who doesn't know kung-fu now can we!!

If it were a Japanese character (probably Chinese/American actor) he would probably speak with a silly growling Yakuza type voice, have lots of tattoos and a Katana (Sword). I am very sure that honorable way out of the movie would be to take on a ridiculously tough creature with the sword. No doubt you would hear him scream off screen.

The deaths

We viewers can often see deaths coming a mile away. Good bate is the security guard as I mentioned earlier. There's a disturbance coming from a cellar, it's dark and there's no light. Someone will poke there head around in here, then turn around and say to everyone "It's okay, nothing to be afraidĀ  of", then suddenly get dragged in by what ever is in there.

Women don't tend to trip up when fleeing these days like older horror films, they are more likely to kick ass, however tough guys are more likely to get it.

If you are low on special effects resources you can always do that "Skip frame" effect which sucks, because all you see on screen is some messy confusion and you can't see what's happening until somebody drops dead. Then you think, what just happened !!!!

The Ending

Now every horror film has to end as if there's going to be a sequel. Look at the typical possibilities:

  1. Body confirmed death, cut scene, cut back, body has gone!!!!
  2. Alien defeated, mother ship runs off back to their planet.
  3. Body burned to a crisp, skeleton hand reaches out.
  4. Severed head, winks as the camera is close.
  5. Newly possessed person, evil grin at the end.


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