Money makes horror go ’round

The film industry loves horror. It buys that red syrupy stuff that passes for blood by the cargo container.
It’s the embodiment of the American dream – anybody can strike cinema gold with a great idea and with little money​ as long as it horrifies.
Good acting, expensive sets and great lines are unnecessary. The best cameras and equipment are not needed.
Take The Blair Witch Project, a 1999 American horror film written, directed and edited by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez.
The film is composed of footage supposedly found a year after three student filmmakers disappeared while shooting a documentary about the Blair Witch.
The film follows their initial investigations in the woods and then gets scarier and hairier after one of the students vanishes and his anguished screams are heard in the dark.
The scenes were mostly in the woods. A few were in the streets featuring interviews with non-actors. A key cameraman had a day’s training to operate the videorecorder.
The film originally cost $35,000 but after a studio bought in, ended with a budget between $500,000 and $750,000 after reshoots, a new sound mix, experiments with different endings, and other changes.
The result?
It garnered critical acclaim but more important to the money men, a gross income of $248 million worldwide and a series of sequels, video games and other money-making spin-offs.
Horror films have always been produced on the cheapie side. Mist are stinkers. Some are so bad they get a cult following. Some become classics.
My favorite was the original Night of the Living Dead, the 1968 American independent horror film, directed by George A. Romero, that launched the whole zombie genre.
It was a cultural and historic success and clearly from its $114,000 budget, a box office wonder grossing $12 million in the U.S. and $18 million internationally.
As a cult classic, it’s still a great money maker.

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