Some horror movies can only be watched once. Others should be watched a couple of times to get the maximum effect of their complex storylines. During the second or third viewing of some horror films, little details make themselves known that were missed the first time around. A lot of effort goes into making a successful horror film and these little details are a big part of it. Sometimes the details are in the background of the film itself and sometimes it is in the inspiration that led to the making of the movie. On this list are some, perhaps lesser known, facts that play eerily vital roles in making horror movies just a little bit creepier.
Beware though, potential spoilers ahead!
10 Final Destination—2000
At the time, Final Destination was a breath of fresh air in the horror movie genre. There was no slasher or ghost element. Instead the killer was Death itself, stalking and taking the lives of those who managed to evade it the first time around. The beginning of the movie shows a plane crash that happens mid-air after the main character convinces his friends to disembark it. During the making of the movie the decision was made to use the song “Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver and play it before some of the characters’ deaths. Eerily, John Denver himself died in a plane crash in 1997 and his remains could only be identified by means of his fingerprints. His demise is reminiscent not only of the plane crash in the movie, but also the gruesomeness of the graphic death scenes.
9 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre—1974
Tobe Cooper is best known for being the director of the 1974 horror flick: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The movie introduced horror fans to the legendary Leatherface who instilled fear with his grotesque human skin mask and penchant for attacking people with a chainsaw. Strangely enough, it was ‘the most beautiful time of the year’ that inspired Cooper’s freaky villain. The director was Christmas shopping in 1972 and feeling most frustrated with the sheer amount of people out to buy last minute gifts, when he saw a rack of chainsaws in the hardware section. For just a moment he thought that a chainsaw would be an effective way to get through the crowd really quickly. And so, the horror movie seed was planted.
8 The Hills Have Eyes—1977
Writer and director of the gruesome film The Hills Have Eyes, Wes Craven, was inspired by the story of Sawney Bean who was said to have been the head of a Scottish clan that went around murdering and eating people during the Middle Ages. There was a lot of tension on set, especially during the filming of a terrifying rape scene. The cast and crew also experienced difficulties in dealing with extreme temperatures. However, the last straw was when Craven decided he wanted the baby in the movie to be murdered by one of the inbred cannibals. The crew put their foot down and threatened to abandon the project if Craven went through with trying to film a scene like that and the director eventually let the idea go.
7 Paranormal Activity – 2009
Paranormal Activity was filmed in just one week and since there was no real script to speak of, a lot of the scenes were improvised on the spot. The result was a movie that terrified audiences worldwide to the core, with many convinced that the footage was real and that the entity in the movie could reach out beyond the screen. People actually walked out during early screenings because they were too scared to sit and watch the whole film. Steven Spielberg was also intrigued by the movie and after his company acquired the film, he took home a DVD copy of the movie. After watching it, his bedroom door locked itself from the inside and Spielberg had to call a locksmith to get out. He was so terrified by this experience that he returned the DVD the next day after having tossed it into a garbage bag.
6 Cloverfield – 2008
While Godzilla was the main inspiration for the monster in Cloverfield, its design was unique. It was also a water creature with a huge tail but was covered in parasites and slightly clumsy on its feet. The reason for the clumsiness was the fact that Clover was still a baby monster. Filming included the ‘found footage’ style and the result made for an extremely immersive movie. However, the continuous movement was too much for some movie-goers and many had to run out and go vomit in the nearest bathroom. Others complained of intense migraines. Some even experienced a temporary loss of balance. This resulted in verbal and visual warnings being posted by theatres so that audiences knew what they were letting themselves in for.
5 Insidious – 2010
Movie critics had mostly positive things to say about the horror movie, Insidious, which is quite a feat for a movie starring a kid in a coma, desperate parents and a red-faced demon. Some of the scenes are genuinely creepy and there isn’t an overuse of jump-scares. The dad eventually figures out what exactly is happening to his son and he enters a place called The Further to rescue him. All the scenes in The Further were shot in the Herald Examiner building in Los Angeles. This building has somewhat of a creepy past as it used to house the newspaper that was first in covering one of the most terrifying murders that ever happened in LA: the Black Dahlia killing in 1947.
4 The Ring – 2002
Whenever The Ring is mentioned in conversation, it is almost impossible to think of the movie without picturing a little girl with black hair hanging over her face, crawling out of a TV set. The cursed video tape is almost secondary in people’s minds as the creepy Samara left a lasting impression on audiences in 2002. Also featured throughout the movie is a splendid red Japanese maple tree that was in fact a prop built from steel tubing and plaster. The tree was named Lucille in honor of Lucille Ball (because of her red hair). After a while however, the cast and crew of The Ring began to feel like the tree was as cursed as the videotape in the movie. No matter where they put it up, the wind blew it down. They erected the tree three times and each time the wind picked up to more than 60 miles per hour and knocked it over.
3 Scream – 1996
While most horror movie buffs would scoff at Scream, saying they weren’t scared at all while watching it, the movie and its subsequent sequels spawned one of the most iconic and recognizable killers in movie history: Ghostface. Kevin Williamson, best known for creating Dawson’s Creek, wrote the entire screenplay in three days. The opening scene of the movie hit very close to home as Williamson explained to CNN in 1998. He was watching the Barbara Walters special on the Gainesville murders when he heard a noise coming from inside his house. Freaked out, he searched through the house to see what might have caused the noise and happened upon an open window in the living room. He hadn’t noticed the window being open even after two days of being home night and day. This really scared him. He fetched a big knife from the kitchen and phoned one of his friends. The friend, David Blanchard, started asking him about scary movies which inspired Williamson to write the opening scene to Scream early the next morning. The Ghostface killer was inspired by the Gainesville Ripper, Danny Rolling, who murdered five students in four days in August 1990.
Speaking of iconic killers in movies, Michael Myers is right up there with the best of them. Myers started his killing spree at the age of 6 when he murdered his older sister, Judith. His attention then turned to his other sister, Laurie, who managed to escape him right up until 2018 and presumably beyond. The murderous character was created by John Carpenter after he visited a psychiatric ward with some of his psychology classmates. One of the patients they observed was a teenage boy who would stare ahead of him blankly without speaking. Carpenter used this experience as inspiration while co-writing the script for the film. The movie became very controversial at the time of its release with many people accusing the producers of trying to encourage people to identify with Michael Myers.
1 Carrie – 1976
A list of horror movies, in whatever form, wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of at least one adaptation of a classic Stephen King novel. Carrie was not only the first of King’s novels to be made into a movie, it was also his very first published horror story. (It was also John Travolta’s movie debut). Many were truly freaked out by Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Carrie White, while others felt the really frightening moment was at the end of the film when Carrie’s arm shoots out from below the ground of her destroyed house during Sue Snell’s dream. Sue then wakes up screaming. Art director, Jack Fisk, buried Spacek in a pit under a board covered in pumice stones for the filming of the final scene after she insisted on doing the scene herself. Spacek went all out to ensure the red ‘blood’ stains on her prom dress stayed consistent by sleeping in the gown for the three days it took to shoot the prom scene. She also made sure to stay in character by isolating herself from the rest of the cast whenever they weren’t shooting.