Evolution of Horror Movie Poster Designs: 1922 – 2009

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From the dreadful art work created for Nosferatu in 1922 till the present, horror movie posters has evolved with time, immensely. Having celebrated the twisted, the sick, the ghastly, the disgusting and the terrifying, this genre of art is highly evocative. It may be just another creepy photograph conveying malicious promises, or an abstract interpretations rendered by an elaborate painting, designers are experimenting with their creative juices from time immemorial to bring out the ghastly effect in their posters.

horror movie poster

Creepy typography, high contrast illustrations, horrific creatures and ominous taglines are trademarks of effective horror movie posters. Creating an aura of mysteriousness while freaking out your audience simultaneously, works best for these posters. Raw terror, suspense and a hint of fright-fest are the things that your poster needs to convey to stimulate the nightmares and excite the curiosity of your potential moviegoers, so that they cannot help but check out for themselves what the movie has in store.

However, it isn’t easy to create a spine-chilling poster, which looks both brutal and spectacular at the same time. Like, blood smearing across the poster may make it look like a finger painting by a kid. The potential of a true designer is revealed in subtly arousing terror in viewer’s imagination by making this ordinary blood look extraordinarily ghastly.

To draw inspiration from some of the best horror movie posters of all time, you can check out our collection of 50+ horror movie poster designs in this article.

Nosferatu (1922)

F.W. Murnau’s German silent classic is the original and some say most frightening DRACULA adaptation, taking Bram Stoker’s novel and turning it into a haunting, shadowy dream full of dread.

50 horror movies posters

Dracula (1931)

This is the first screen version of Bram Stoker’s famous tale based on the smash hit stage production. Count Dracula arrives in London and immediately works to enrapture and transform into vampires young Lucy Weston and her friend Mina Seward.

50 horror movies posters

Frankenstein (1931)

Scientist Henry Frankenstein and his hunchbacked assistant, Fritz, embark on an unholy mission by stealing a body from a graveyard and a human brain from a medical college. Unbeknownst to Frankenstein, however, Fritz takes a violent and murderous abnormal brain.

50 horror movies posters

White Zombie (1932)

After arriving in Haiti to meet her fiance, a blushing bride-to-be is quickly transformed into a pallid, soulless body by creepy voodoo master Bela Lugosi, at the behest of a jealous rival who desires her.

50 horror movies posters

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

A masterly mix of horror and black comedy, is the first in a series of sequels to FRANKENSTEIN. Mary Shelley resumes her gothic tale after the face-off in a burning windmill between Henry Frankenstein and his horrific creation, the Monster.

50 horror movies posters

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

Jean Frollo, chief justice of Paris. Spying a spectacularly beautiful Gypsy woman named Esmeralda in church, he sends his factotum, Quasimodo, to abduct her. Frollo’s plan is foiled by Phoebus, captain of the guard, and the hunchback is sentenced to public flogging and exposure.

50 horror movies posters

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

When uncle is found murdered on the grounds of the family estate, Sir Henry Baskerville arrives from abroad to claim his ancestral home on the fog-shrouded Devonshire moors.

50 horror movies posters

Village of the Damned (1960)

For 10 hours, something — or someone — causes all the residents of a small British hamlet to black out. Shortly thereafter, several women end up pregnant, and the babies they give birth to have startling physical similarities: they’re white-haired and frozen-faced, with formidable intellects and the ability to communicate telepathically.

50 horror movies posters

Psycho (1960)

Bates presides over an out-of-the-way motel under the domineering specter of his mother. The young, well-intentioned Bates is introduced to the audience when Marion Crane, a blonde on the run with stolen money, checks in for the night.

50 horror movies posters

The Birds (1963)

Wealthy reformed party girl Melanie Daniels enjoys a brief flirtation with lawyer Mitch Brenner in a San Francisco pet shop and decides to follow him to his Bodega Bay home. Bearing a gift of two lovebirds, Melanie quickly strikes up a romance with Mitch while contending with his possessive mother and boarding at his ex-girlfriend’s house.

50 horror movies posters

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Seven people secluded in a Pennsylvania farmhouse face relentless attacks by reanimated corpses seeking to eat their flesh. The group, which includes a married couple and their daughter, a pair of young lovers, and an African-American man, try to keep their sanity as the living dead keep trying to enter the house.

50 horror movies posters

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

A young, happily married couple, waif-like Rosemary and struggling actor Guy, move into a spacious apartment in a venerable old building off Central Park. They are befriended by the elderly couple next door, Roman and Minnie Castavet, who seem to take a special interest in Rosemary’s well-being.

50 horror movies posters

The Exorcist (1973)

Regan MacNeil, a 12-year-old who is possessed by the devil. After exhausting all other practical options, Regan’s mother, Chris, acknowledges the supernatural nature of her daughter’s condition and recruits Father Damien Karras to stage an exorcism.

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The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)

Five unsuspecting teenagers driving in a van through sun-scorched rural Texas. After a terrifying exchange with a demented hitchhiker, the group ends up at an old farmhouse. At first, the house appears to be abandoned, but soon, the evil residents begin to wreak havoc on the youngsters’ lives.

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Jaws (1975)

During the height of beach season, the Massachusetts resort town of Amity Island is terrorized one summer by surprise attacks from a great white shark. Three unlikely partners team up to hunt down the rogue and destroy it: the new chief of police from New York, a young university-educated oceanographer, and a crusty old-time fisherman.

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Carrie (1976)

Carrie White has her first period while showering after a physical education class. Her mother, Margaret, a religious fanatic, never told her about menstruation, so Carrie thinks she is bleeding to death. Her cries for help are met with abuse by the entire gym class. The gym teacher, Miss Collins is horrified at Carrie’s naivete.

50 horror movies posters

Halloween (1978)

An exercise in simple, pure horror, HALLOWEEN takes us into the world of a mad killer, Michael Myers, who at a very young age stabbed his older sister to death. Locked away for many years in a mental hospital Michael escapes one night and returns to his hometown to continue his killing spree.

50 horror movies posters

Alien (1979)

Inside a crashed ship, the crew members come upon strange pods, one of which spews forth a repellently fleshy insectile creature that locks on to the face of the unlucky Kane. Despite Ripley’s advice, science officer Ash allows Kane to return to the ship, where the creature finally releases its grip.

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Salem’s Lot (1979)

A writer returns to his New England home town only to find its genteel citizens are turning into vampires. This cable version of SALEM’S LOT was released theatrically overseas as BLOOD THIRST and… A writer returns to his New England home town only to find its genteel citizens are turning into vampires.

50 horror movies posters

The Shining (1980)

Jack Torrance, a Vermont schoolteacher working at the Overlook as a winter caretaker. The glorious early-20th century resort only operates in warm weather because the snowy roads deny access in the colder months, so Jack brings his wife, Wendy, with him, as well as his young son, Danny, who possesses some unique psychic powers.

50 horror movies posters

The Howling (1981)

Popular female reporter in Los Angeles who cannot escape the horror of a traumatic experience that she suffered while trying to capture Eddie Quist, a dangerous serial killer. When her psychologist recommends a retreat to “The Colony,” up the Northern California coast, she reluctantly agrees, hoping to recover from her nightmarish visions.

50 horror movies posters

An American Werewolf in London (1981)

David Kessler and Jack Goodman are two American students on a backpacking tour of Europe. Wandering the backroads of gloomy East Proctor, England, they find a pub where the unhelpful locals act suspiciously strange. The unsuspecting boys flee the pub in search of lodging after being warned to avoid the moors.

50 horror movies posters

Poltergeist (1982)

Life in the Freeling family’s tract home is comfortably bland, but frisky poltergeists soon put a little excitement into their daily routine–moving furniture and communicating with their youngest daughter, Carol Anne, through the television set. Unfortunately, harmless pranks quickly turn nasty and the previously friendly ghosts kidnap Carol Anne, trapping her in the spirit world.

50 horror movies posters

The Thing (1982)

A group of weary scientists enduring the winter in an isolated camp deep in Antarctica chance upon an alien spacecraft buried in the ice. Near the strange craft is the body of an alien being, frozen solid. Thinking they have made the find of a lifetime, the scientists bring the alien body back to camp and thaw it out.

50 horror movies posters

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A replusive, decaying figure with razor-sharp appendages (and an even sharper sense of humor!) suddenly appears in the dreams of four Los Angeles teenagers. It is the ghost of Freddy Krueger. A replusive, decaying figure with razor-sharp appendages (and an even sharper sense of humor!) suddenly appears in the dreams of four Los Angeles teenagers.

50 horror movies posters

The Hitcher (1985)

When a young man, driving to California by himself, naively picks up a hitchhiker, he gets more than he bargained for: the hitcher is a serial killer who mercilessly slashes anyone he meets. When a young man, driving to California by himself, naively picks up a hitchhiker, he gets more than he bargained for: the hitcher is a serial killer who mercilessly slashes anyone he meets.

50 horror movies posters

Aliens (1986)

Ripley, the sole survivor from the original ALIEN, is awakened after 57 years of drifting through space, her stories disbelieved by Company executives who tell her that the alien’s planet is now inhabited and colonized. When contact is suddenly lost with the colonists, Ripley returns to the planet with a squad of marines, an android, and a Company executive with a mission of his own.

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The Fly (1986)

Spaced-out scientist who invents a genetic teleportation machine and accidentally transforms himself into a fly. In the horrifyingly graphic detail that is his trademark, Cronenberg depicts the scientist’s painful mutation from human into insect.

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Hellraiser (1987)

The tale of a man and wife who move into an old house and discover a hideous creature–the man’s half-brother, who is also the woman’s former lover–hiding upstairs. Having lost his earthly body to a trio of S&M demons called the Cenobites, he is brought back into existence by a drop of blood on the floor.

50 horror movies posters

Evil Dead II (1987)

Group of people are trapped in a cabin while ancient evil lurks outside and threatens a fate worse than death. Can brawny wiseguy Ash save the day, or will his dead girlfriend come back to cause more trouble?

50 horror movies posters

Child’s Play (1988)

The Lake Shore Strangler, a mass murderer who has plagued the Chicago area for months, meets his untimely end when he gets shot in a toy warehouse. Left for dead, the killer summons the strength to.

50 horror movies posters

Pet Sematary (1989)

Dr. Louis Creed, having just moved to Maine with his wife and two children, is heartbroken when he finds that his daughter’s beloved cat has been hit by a truck and killed. Thankfully, a strange, elderly neighbor called Jud knows a secret that may spare the young girl’s tears.

50 horror movies posters

Arachnophobia (1990)

The film’s opening moments picture an insect expert digging up and then tracking the travels of a poisonous male spider who has burrowed in the coffin of one of its victims from the Venezuelan jungle to California. Although the scientist knows they are deadly, he wants to pursue his research regardless of the danger.

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Misery (1990)

Romance author Paul Sheldon longs for parting with Misery. Sheldon’s plucky heroine of seven novels has delivered Sheldon fame and fortune and recognition beyond the average writer’s dreams, but she is also interminably linked to him.

50 horror movies posters

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

FBI trainee Clarice Starling is sent by her supervisor to interview ferociously intelligent serial killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lechter at his cell in a Maryland mental hospital. The FBI hopes Lechter can provide insight into the mind of killer-at-large, Buffalo Bill, whose current abductee happens to be the daughter of a senator.

50 horror movies posters

Army of Darkness (1993)

Through a magic spell, Ash, a modern-day discount-store employee, finds himself back in the middle ages. Given the key to return home by an alchemist, he bungles the incantation and, instead, releases the forces of darkness. Now Ash has one job to do before transporting to the future: defeat the army of the evil dead… if they don’t defeat him first.

50 horror movies posters

Seven (1995)

Set in a perpetually gloomy unnamed city, the film follows Somerset, a retiring police detective, as he experiences his final week on the job, reluctantly working with assertive newcomer Mills. When an obese man is found brutally murdered in his home, the seasoned Somerset realizes this is no ordinary killing–someone tortured him because of his appetite.

50 horror movies posters

Scream (1996)

A hyper-intelligent serial killer preys on the teenage denizens of a small town, using their fascination with horror movie conventions to set up his diabolical doings. An intelligent, well-crafted… A hyper-intelligent serial killer preys on the teenage denizens of a small town, using their fascination with horror movie conventions to set up his diabolical doings.

50 horror movies posters

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The film is composed entirely of reportedly “found” footage shot by three missing college students who made a journey to the woods of Western Maryland in 1994 with the purpose of making a documentary about a “witch” of local legend who is linked to murders and mysterious occurrences spanning 200 years.

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The Sixth Sense (1999)

Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a successful Philadelphia child psychologist who is haunted by the sudden reappearance and suicide of a former patient. Months later Dr. Crowe encounters Cole Sear, a troubled, withdrawn young boy who bears a striking similarity to his earlier patient. Dr. Crowe is compelled to help Cole, not only for the boy’s sake, but for his own redemption.

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The Ring (2002)

Group of teenagers all die suddenly and inexplicably exactly one week after watching a mysterious videotape at a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. Journalist Rachel Keller, a relative of one of the victims, begins an investigation that leads to a mountain resort where she discovers the tape, which contains footage of random and surreal images.

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Shaun of the Dead (2004)

Joined by Shaun immature and ever-present roommate, Ed, Shaun excels at nothing except drinking pints of ale and watching television, which causes friction with his girlfriend, Liz. Before Shaun can save his relationship, however, he’s got to fend off a horde of zombies that are slowly taking over the city.

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Saw (2004)

A young man named Adam wakes to find himself chained to a rusty pipe inside a decrepit subterranean chamber. Chained to the opposite side of the room is another bewildered captive, Dr. Lawrence Gordon. Between them is a dead man lying in a pool of blood, holding a .38 in his hand. Neither man knows why he has been abducted, but instructions left on a microcassette order Dr. Gordon to kill Adam within eight hours.

50 horror movies posters

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The action begins with nurse Ana waking up to discover her boyfriend has become a tasty midnight snack for a formerly cute neighboring kid. To her horror, she realizes that the whole town is in a similar state of ghoulishness, until she runs into still-alive cop Kenneth; the levelheaded Michael; and Andre, a rebel with a pregnant wife in tow.

50 horror movies posters

The Amityville Horror (2005)

When George and Kathy Lutz come across a beautiful river-front colonial home being sold for a steal, they suspect a catch. Once informed that the home was the site of a grisly mass murder, they decide to buy the house anyway and eagerly move in, bringing with them Kathy’s three children from a previous marriage.

50 horror movies posters

Hostel (2006)

Paxton and Josh have embarked upon a hedonistic tour of the continent, and somewhere along the way they picked up an Icelandic lunk named Oli. In Amsterdam the trio partakes of the pastimes most dear to frat boys everywhere: weed, prostitutes, and nightclubs. But when a fellow traveler tells these thrill-seekers about the decadent scene that awaits them in Bratislava…

50 horror movies posters

The Omen (2006)

Robert Thorn is unaware of such dark prophecies. Thorn, a senior American diplomat, has other things on his mind. His wife, Katherine, has endured a difficult delivery and she’s as yet unaware their newborn child has died. Devastated by the loss, Thorn’s concern turns to Katherine, who had suffered two previous miscarriages. The news will surely devastate her.

50 horror movies posters

28 Days Later (2007)

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.

50 horror movies posters

The Mist (2007)

This film adaptation of a Stephen King novel is an intense and terrifying ride from beginning to end. The monsters are scary to be sure, but it is the humans that provide the real horror.

50 horror movies posters

Shutter (2008)

A newly married couple discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved.

50 horror movies posters

The Eye (2008)

The remake of the Hong Kong film “Jian Gui”, a woman who receives an eye transplant that allows her to see into the supernatural world.

50 horror movies posters

The Uninvited (2009)

Anna Rydell returns home to her sister (and best friend) Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardized thanks to her cruel stepmother, aloof father, and the presence of a ghost in their home.

50 horror movies posters

Pandorum (2009)

A pair of crew members aboard a spaceship wake up with no knowledge of their mission or their identities.

50 horror movies posters

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

Tom returns to his hometown on the tenth anniversary of the Valentine’s night massacre that claimed the lives of 22 people. Instead of a homecoming, however, Tom finds himself suspected of committing the murders, and it seems like his old flame is the only one will believes he’s innocent.

50 horror movies posters

Author:

Dainis is blogger from Latvia. He is webmaster of Psdeluxe.com (Photoshop deluxe) - a design community where you find photoshop tutorials and useful resources for web and graphic designers.

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