The Fright Factor in Design

Ah…Halloween. I do love it. I love the costumes, the trick-or-treating, the scary music, the haunted houses, the jack-o-lanterns. Oh, and I can’t forget about the horror movies. I sort of love horror movies. Now, let me interject here and say that I always pull for the demise of the killer—just so you know that I am not a freak in describing my love for the scary films. In the battle of good versus evil, I’m on team good. There is something that I love about them, though. Maybe it’s the fight for good and justice. Maybe it’s the anticipation. Maybe it’s the psychology behind it all. Maybe it’s the surprise element.

Below are some of my favorite horror films and the posters that were made to advertise them. I love movie posters, and I could knock off one of my “I wish I could do that” things if I ever got to design one. Not only do I love these movies, but I also love the posters. See below for some fun, spooky design.



Love the vintage feel of this. I especially love the big type and the play on Michael’s mask with the jack-o-lantern. Nice.


Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho"

It’s a classic in every way. I’m loving the retro aspects of this poster as well as the hand-done typography. The color treatments are perfectly fitting and retro. The placement of the characters makes me laugh a little, but at the same time it’s totally perfect and says Hitchcock in that choppy fashion that is reminiscent of Dada. Check out Norman Bates in the left corner. Creepy…

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

I’m obsessed with this poster. It is totally 80s. I really like the illustration in the outlined body of the killer, as well as the dripping blood into the type. And who knew that Kevin Bacon starred in this? Just watched it and was pleasantly surprised to see his appearance.

nightmare before christmas

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Tim Burton. You are a creative genius and are in a league all your own. This poster is beautiful and shows Burton’s genius as Jack Skellington is highlighted here in “Halloween Town.” I especially love all of the bold colors in this movie and the use of purple throughout. The moon in this poster is beautiful and provides the perfect contrast for the dark town scene.



My personal favorite horror movie of all time. Scream. I love the plot, the music, Courteney Cox’s loud trashy-tabloid-reporter-outfits for Gayle Weathers, and the overt way that it makes fun of horror movies. This movie actually tells you “how to survive a horror movie.” “Never say, ‘I’ll be right back.'” Further, how awesome is the opening scene? You would never initially think that Drew Barrymore would be killed in the first scene. As far as this poster goes, I think it’s strong. I wish the copy at the top was gone; it’s unnecessary. Some big movie exec told the poor designer that it had to be incorporated. But, I do love the simple, yet dynamic, type treatment of the word, scream. It says it all, and filling the space with the horrified face of Drew Barrymore goes back to my point about her…which goes back to my point about the surprise element. That’s how you build anticipation.

I’m sure there are many more great horror movie posters out there, as well as scary movies. These are just a few. Be sure to look around and check out all of the fun and spooky design out there right now. Pick up one of these movies to add a fright factor to your Halloween weekend, and remember…never say, “I’ll be right back.”

Sara Beth Parks is a designer, Southern girl, and lover of all things beautiful, currently writing of her journey with art and design, "My Latest Buzz."

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