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What Makes A Great Horror Movie? : The Classic And Right Methods

Updated on January 10, 2011

Todays movie critics make it difficult to produce a successful horror movie. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into this production, and what do these critics do? They scarf down all your hard work and puke it back out with a bad review. You’ll see headlines, online forums, and heck you’ll even hear it on the streets, “Decent, but not as good as........” It’s impossible to top them all, so you do the next best thing and ask yourself, what made that other horror movie so good? After dedicating my life to analyzing horror movie script and movies, its easy to determine which hones the right stuff and what another lacks. We see the same old killings, and the same old gore. Your audience is maturing and it’s all getting boring. Everyone wants more, something better, and different. There needs to be a new and fresh idea that sends shivers down spines.

Relating to the Audience

It’s key to find this new idea and then relate it to the audience. If you can find some characteristic of an average joe and turn it into a weakness, it’ll put into perspective just how vulnerable we the audience actually are. For example, the classic, “A Nightmare on Elmstreet.” Freddy Krueger, a disfigured murderer who kills those in their sleep. The slight thought of someone being slaughtered because they fell asleep leaves goosebumps. Freddy Kruger was that guy who kept people up at night and that's exactly what you want. I remember after watching it as a child, the burden I had to go through trying to obtain some sort of insomnia like powers. How can you not congratulate a movie with such an original but horrifying scheme?


It frightens you to think a murderer is close. Where is this evil doer really? It’s an on going mind game. A good horror movie even relates its location. Location tells the audience where exactly are you going to find your serial killer or ghost. Once you see a movie that captures a location so well, you’ll have a fear to go back into any place that resembles it. If the location doesn’t relate, then a movie doesn’t scare. How many times have you watched a horror movie that took place in the north pole and said afterwards, “ Damn I’m not going down the basement, the yeti might be down there.” Exactly, never! On the flip side, I bet if you watched some horror movie about a haunted bathroom you’d think twice about going to brushing those pearly whites of yours.


A good horror movie has no defined music, almost any sound or music will justify the movie fine. The music just needs to fall at the right time and the right place. You could hear a piano chime or you could hear loud music. In a horror movie both cases could lead to a death. Loud piano chimes is a given, but how could loud rock music work in a horror movie? A character could be casually rocking out and all of a sudden a killer could casually walk in and go for a kill. While the character is dying and weeping out for help, the music blocks out any help because no one hears their call. You’ll be off your seats yelling, “Help him!”


If you’ve lived life, you understand that beautiful people makes this world go round. In a horror movie, the same rules apply. The audience wants to see beautiful and good looking people because they want to follow this character in the story and hope that he or she lives. Everyone wants to see this gorgeous character vanquish evil. You don’t believe me? Next time you go and see a horror movie, carefully pay attention to who dies. When a beautiful girl dies you’ll hear, “Damn! What a waste of a hottie!” Now when your average looking female or male dies people in the audience clap and praise the killer. Are you really surprised? Welcome to 2010.

The Killer Appearance

Theres a certain fear people get when they don’t know exactly what they’re against. It scares each soul to see a murderer behind a generic mask. It makes them seem inhuman because we have no idea what's under the mask. If the killer doesn’t have those aspects then it gets to the point where you think, is this really a horror movie? Or a suspense? It’s best to have something unnatural about the killer or ghost, if being a ghost wasn’t unnatural enough that is. If theres nothing unnatural about these killers then the audience have a safe boundary. There needs to be the concept in your mind that a bullet isn’t always enough. There more here to fear. For example, what’s scarier, Freddy Krueger who can kill you in your sleep, or the mailman down the street that you pissed off.

Dont mind the blades! Fear the Mask!
Dont mind the blades! Fear the Mask!


I hope one day I could leave the theaters from a horror movie without some jerk in the front row yelling how he wants his money back. This translates to, no garbage endings, please! Do some directors really believe it’s necessary to have some mind boggling twist at the end? I’m not saying a big twist doesn't work, but when a movie is over, the crowd expects to know what exactly happened. All the basic questions should be answered. For example, I recently watched a zombie flick, there was the casual eating of the flesh, but right before the movie ended, a plant comes out of the hero’s computer and strangles him. There was no explanation of any of it whatsoever. I understand the director wanting to leave a cliff hanger but a plant? Seriously? I wasn’t surprised to find a review of that movie with a headline of, “Complete Trash.”

People love to be scared. It gets their adrenaline rushing. Their hearts pounding. What is it that compels the audience to hope for an extra scene at end?  Theres always something more to look forward to. Something new to keep everyone asking, what's going to happen next?  The audience may look away, they may closes there eyes, but the masterpiece opens them to a new fictional world where nowhere is safe, where no one is to be trusted, and where evil is just around the corner. 


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    • jfdaysleeper profile image

      Jean-Francois Joanisse 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I had to strongly disagree with your ending thoughts. Specially in a horror film, it is more frightening to me when you go out the theatre with troubled questions on your mind, unanswered questions or weird twists that leave you thinking and trying to figure out the puzzle. That way, the movies still scares your hours after the viewing. My two cents.

    • profile image

      Yazza Jakez 

      6 years ago

      Very useful. Thanks!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      yeah same school stuff really haepl full

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      oh this is sooo usefull!! got a school report.. THANKS!!

    • Leniscool profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      NO PROBLEM ADROIT ALIEN! Aliens are cool too haha.

    • Adroit Alien profile image

      Adroit Alien 

      7 years ago

      Horror movies are great! There seems to be a new trend in movie. Zombie and apocalypse seems to be the winning formula. I enjoy all types of horror movies. Thanks for this hub!


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