Ah, money. The thing that makes the world—and, by extension, Hollywood—go round. Sometimes, it seems as if money is all studios care about; how much they can sink into a movie, how much they can make back. It’s just in their nature to create amazing spectacles and movies to captivate fans with massive million-dollar budgets.
Yet, some genres have made some great movies on extremely low-budgets. Specifically, this applies to the horror community, which can create terror on the bare minimum and still make a profit back. It’s amazing the scares one can create on such a small budget.
10 Get Out (2017): 4.5 Million
Now, for those who’ve seen Get Out, comedian Jordan Peele’s breakout hit that put him on the map as a horror director who managed to craft some truly funny and scary scenes, seeing it on this list may be a surprise. After all, it was a semi-big blockbuster film. Isn’t 4.5 million a lot of cash?
Well… no, actually. By today’s standards, 4.5 million dollars is chump change. The typical budget for blockbuster-style films today range in the hundred million and while Get Out’s budget is still large, partially due to the effects and cast, it’s lower than most.
9 Nightmare On Elm Street (1984): 1.8 Million
Perhaps it’s not too surprising that something like A Nightmare On Elm Street was made for such a low amount. It was, after all, essentially a slasher movie made in the 1980s where those films were coming out every other week.
Looking back on the film though, it boggles the mind that such effects and prosthetics were done on such a measly 1.8 million when the reboot that many see as being a nightmare itself was made for 35 million and yet couldn’t even replicate the same amount of horror that Craven created.
8 Hush (2016): One Million
Usually, the low budgeted horror movies belong to the slasher flicks, the movies that follow the helpless victims—typically horny teens—who find themselves stalked by a serial killer and almost always end up being too cheesy or too over-the-top.
In the case of Hush, the 2016 slasher film that followed a deaf writer as she was stalked by a serial killer, actually works masterfully, with the surprisingly low Netflix budget of one million dollars doing wonders. Perhaps going low-budget would benefit some of Netflix’s other films.
7 Psycho (1960): $800,000
It wouldn’t be a horror-based list if the iconic thriller/horror movie Psycho wasn’t brought up. Interesting enough, the production and making of Psycho was a difficult and strenuous process that almost ended up sinking Hitchcock’s career.
Luckily, the master of suspense was able to turn out one of his greatest films to date on a budget of merely 800,000, something that shooting on black and white and using chocolate syrup for blood probably helped to reduce the cost and let the horror and suspense flow more naturally, not to mention being one of many great films to be made for less than a million dollars.
6 The Evil Dead (1981): $400,000
Over the years, the definitive “scariest film ever made” has always been up for debate. From a bad case of demon possessions to cabin fever at the Overlook hotel, many have tried to earn the title so many covet but how many can be the scariest and have a low budget?
Answer: The Evil Dead can. Created by horror and superhero mastermind Sam Raimi, The Evil Dead was a low-budgeted horror flick essentially made between friends for 400,000 dollars, and it still manages to be horrifying, although some see the remake as being a scarier film.
5 Halloween (1978): $325,000
There’s a reason why audiences are afraid of that one date. The date of October 31st, the day that ghosts and ghouls populate the streets, that kids dress up and the darkest ideas and creatures come forth. The night of Halloween. The night he came home.
Dramatics aside, the original Halloween, a film that’s remained timeless over the years, is a well thought out slasher flick that very well may have reinvigorated the sub-genre. Not only that, but Halloween is one of the highest-grossing independent films, racking in 70 million dollars on a budget of 325,000.
4 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974): $300,000
Tenets of Texan lifestyle were already well-documented, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre really didn’t do much for the state’s already heavily-stereotyped public image. “It’s just a movie,” some are saying. “And the sequel went into a bizarre horror-comedy territory.” Well, it’s actually based on a true story.
Don’t worry, the plot is fictional, but the character of Leatherface is based on serial killer Ed Gein, though he wasn’t from Texas. Nonetheless, the film remains a horror classic with great scares, a fantastic villain, a budget of 300,000, and some truth beneath the fiction.
3 Open Water (2003): $130,000
After Jaws made audiences scared to go back in the water, there was a bit of time where no one could really replicate the same feel. Sure, there were plenty of sharks, alligators, and even hybrid monsters to spook audiences, but none as good as Jaws.
It could even be said that Open Water doesn’t even come close to the Spielberg masterpiece, and yet, it’s still a decent watch, with enough suspense and emotion to carry the audience through on its 130,000 dollar budget that is spent wisely.
2 Night Of The Living Dead (1968): $114,000
By today’s standards, to create the perfect zombie flick would require millions of dollars, cutting edge effects, a grade-A cast, and lots of gore. For George A.Romero, all he needed was $114,000.
Night Of The Living Dead, the film that kickstarted the zombie sub-genre, is known for having sparse yet intriguing effects and iconic imagery that boosted the film to movie star potential. The fact that it was made on such a small budget, a budget Romero himself raised half of, is astounding in more ways than one.
1 Blair Witch Project (1999): $60,000
Truthfully, it wouldn’t be surprising if half of the budget for The Blair Witch Project went into marketing. When what has been considered to be one of the few found footage movies to actually work, the extremely low budget of 60,000 dollars and few over-the-top scares made it feel real.
However, looking back on it now, many can say that the film had one of the best marketing decisions around it, creating the illusion that it was based on a true story which benefited heavily off of the small budget.
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