Hi! And welcome back to my multi-part Guide to Making a Movie. Today I tackle making a favorite genre of mine, the Horror movie.
Done right, the Horror movie can inspire fear and pants-wetting across the country and spawn generations of copy cats. Who knows, If you’re good enough, you can make the next Evil Dead flick!
The Horror Movie: Horror movies are simple. There are two main types: Supernatural and Psychotic. Supernatural horror movies usually have a villain, or villains who are other-worldly in nature. Ghosts, monsters, religious items, leprechauns, dead slaves with hooks for hands; these are all examples of supernatural elements. Psychotic horror movies usually involve crazy people, serial killers, long, sharp objects that poke through people and leave bloody holes and radiated and/or mutated animals that go crazy and attack people.
Key elements to horror movies are: A large amount of blood. A virginal and innocent female lead who lives to the end. A strong male lead who looks like he could take care of business and therefore is killed in the first five minutes. A comic relief character who elicits sympathy but gets killed anyway. A bunch of stupid white people to get killed during the course of the movie. And at least one smart black person who decides to get the hell out while the gettin’s good, (but is killed anyway because WPs are jealous they weren’t smart enough to do the same thing.) Due to Affirmative Action, if there’s more than one minority in the movie (black, Latino, Asian, Indian, well-bathed European) then at least one must live.
When it comes to the gore factor, there are two approaches. You can either make the gruesome elements subtle and leave most to the audience’s imagination, or you can go the opposite direction and put way too much gore and blood in the script. Either approach works and what you decide should depend on what kind of audience you want to go for and if the straight-to-DVD market is up your alley.
On another note, torture porn is a very tiny niche of horror movie and really shouldn’t be considered if you’re going to make a movie. The market is over-saturated and cannot bare another of these flicks.
Nudity is vital. Your dialogue and special effects will probably be subpar, and the best way to keep people attentive is to include bewbies and sex. You shouldn’t consider yourself above it, nor should your actors consider. Remind them that there’s a paycheck involved, so they’d better get to debasing themselves with the quickness.
On the other hand, don’t hire actors and actresses based on how they look or how sexy they are. Otherwise it just seems like a soft-core porn flick with a little horror thrown in for good measure. The size of an actor’s/actress’s physical attributes is inversely proportional to their acting ability. Just ask Misty Mundae.
Be sure to add plenty of fake scares in your movie. Have people slowly open closet doors with a dramatic music build up, just to find the closet empty. Then, naturally, put the real scare less than five seconds after the fake one.
There are two types of endings to horror movies. In the first type, the bad guy kills everybody and wins. This is a pretty typical ending. It’s expected. You can’t go wrong with it. In the second type the villain is thought to have been killed, but one last lingering shot reveals to the audience, with dramatic irony, that the bad guy is still alive and just itching for the sequel.
The horror movie is a good movie to make because you’re guaranteed at least two sequels. And that’s more money in your pocket. But avoid remaking Japanese horror movies. Those have a short shelf life and Sarah Michelle Gellar is getting kind of tired of starring in them.
Join me next time, when I explain how to make a Sci-fi movie.