For films made on low-to-no budgets, an eye-catching, attention-grabbing poster is crucial.
A great poster can create a buzz about a film and help attract an audience without the star power of big name actors or the financial muscle of a major studio.
Nowhere is this truer than in the horror genre, which has a history of films shot on shoestring budgets becoming breakout commercial successes.
The following ten microbudget horror films all had striking posters that caught the eye of audiences and enabled the films to compete with much bigger budget movies.
Exactly what constitutes a microbudget is debatable, but films have only been included that had production budgets of less than $150,000. A few notable films in that budget range haven’t been included, including Paranormal Activity and Henry Portrait Of A Serial Killer, as I don’t personally think they have particularly interesting posters.
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott, and shot for only $10,000, the American mystery horror thriller Resolution premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and went on to win four awards at Toronto After Dark.
Marketed as a “lost slasher film from 1978” and a follow up to the equally no-budget Found, Headless was made for just $27,000, crowdfunded using Kickstarter.
Dead Hooker In A Trunk (2009)
The Soska Sisters’ directorial debut was made for only $2500, but its eye-catching title and poster caught the attention of horror fans and the Soska’s went on to make the acclaimed American Mary, as well as the remake of David Cronenberg’s Rabid.
Black Sunday (1960)
Considered one of the greatest horror films of all time, Mario Bava’s classic gothic horror had an estimated shooting budget of $100,000. The striking poster for the Italian release captured its atmosphere and rich visual style.
Basket Case (1982)
Frank Henenlotter’s schlocky classic was shot for only $35,000. Helped by its creepy but intriguing poster, it gained a cult following, spawning two sequels and even a ‘My Lil Belial’ pillow.
Not Of This Earth (1957)
Roger Corman was a master at not only microbudget filmmaking but also marketing, with the posters for his films arguably often better than the films themselves. Shot for $100,000, this sci-fi horror was part of a double bill with Attack of the Crab Monsters that allegedly made a 400% profit in its first week.
The Brain Eaters (1958)
Another sci-fi horror produced by Roger Corman, The Brain Eaters was shot in six days for $26,000. Its striking poster was designed by Albert Kallis, who was responsible for the posters for many of Corman’s films.
The poster image for David Lynch’s debut film Erasurehead is as iconic as the film itself. Remarkably, the film was shot for only $10,000.
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Spawning not just multiple sequels but an entire genre, George A. Romero’s classic horror was shot for $114,000 and was one of the most profitable movies of its time. You can only wonder about the impact the poster must’ve had, at a time when zombies didn’t exist in popular culture.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Any list of microbudget horror films wouldn’t be complete without The Blair Witch Project, which famously had a shooting budget of only $40,000 and made nearly $250 million at the box office. The mysterious, unsettling poster perfectly played into the film’s marketing campaign, which presented the found footage movie as real.