my top 10 scary movie posters

It’s the eve of Halloween! While my days of getting steaming in cracked white face paint and a bin bag cape may be behind me, I still bloody love this time of year. Buckets full of sweets for the trick or treaters that never arrive, scary movies, cosy socks - that’s what I’m talking about!

To celebrate this most magical time of year I’ve put together a list of my favourite scary movie artwork. I’ve been into horror movies since I was a kid, and while I find it much easier to sleep afterwards these days, I still love the spookiness, the tension, the campiness of some! They’re just great fun, and as you’ll see below, often totally beautiful.

10. Children of the Corn

children of the corn poster design.jpg

What is it about weird little kids that can make a movie so creepy? Between Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned, I wouldn’t be surprised if people stopped having babies altogether. You just never know when they’ll turn out to be a murdering psychopath.

This poster is super restrained in it’s use of colour, opting for just red, black and a tiny bit of white. Because of this it’s just so foreboding, looming over you like that scythe. Also, look closely in the corn. See anything creepy hiding in there? The subtlety of those little creeps really adds to this poster. Creepy!

9. Blair Witch

Blair Witch Poster Graphic design

I’m gonna be honest and get this out of the way - I think this is the only poster featured which happened later than the 80s. Modern horror just isn’t as much of my thing - a lot of the modern CGI and effects just don’t do it for me.

But this poster - my god. There’s something so visceral about it, it makes me feel so uncomfortable! Again, only the black and red so it’s bold and oppressive, but there’s something else. These trees totally look like veins and nerves! Seeing them branch off like they do in these amped up blood colours really sets my teeth on edge, and I kind of love it!

8. Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Texas Chain Saw Massacre poster graphic design identity

It’s pulpy, it’s cool, it’s fun. This poster looks like the cover to some amazing 70’s ‘zine and I absolutely love it! That bold lettering, the way the image looks spliced and glued onto the background, the subheadings all over. It’s a thing of terrifying beauty!

I know I praised the last two for their ambiguity, but I seriously love how clear this poster is. Wanna see someone get sliced up with a chainsaw? This is the movie for you! I love the way all the text refers to this as being true events. Real or not (not) how much more do you wanna see it now that you know it just might be?!

7. Poltergeist

poltergeist poster design

Oh good, more creepy kids. Toting the line that inspired a generation of scare-fans ‘They’re heeeeere’ this super simplistic poster is an all time great. Who’s here? What do they want? What’s going to happen? It’s all a mystery and you’re gonna have to scare yourself silly to find out. Exciting!

What’s also interesting is the total lack of colour. As we’ve seen from the examples above, red was a big deal for movie posters of this era. So the choice not to use any for Poltergeist actually somehow manages to make it stand out more against other films. Clever!

6. Carrie

Carrie movie poster graphic design

This honestly feels like cheating because 90% of the success of this poster is based on Sissy Spacek’s lunatic face. She looks absolutely terrifying! I remember finding this on video in my house when I was about 7 and staring at the case for hours, giving myself the creeps big time.

The poster is great - the 2 photos are so different you could never guess they were the same person, or how the first scenario could possibly lead to the second. The text is campy and fun, and Sissy Spacek has eyes that will bore into your very soul. Have fun not sleeping!

5. Alien

Alien graphic design movie poster

In Space No One Can Hear You Scream.

What a tagline. Paired with that creepy, oozy image, who’s not going to see this movie?

I love the simplicity, that crazy tracked out typography which still looks so fresh 40 years later (40 years?!). The title and the green tell you enough about this film (aliens, obviously) without giving away too much. There’s nothing better than a total surprise monster reveal. I saw this film for the first time when I was maybe 14 or 15 and thoroughly in the ‘old movies are wank ugghhhh’ phase and I tell you what, I absolutely shit myself. I have loved it (and old horror movies) ever since.

4. Army of Darkness

army of darkness graphic design movie poster

Oh man. Bruce ‘The Chin’ Campbell and his ridiculously photoshopped 6-pack. Smirking, chainsaw-wielding, wearing a BDSM harness and bootcut jeans. He’s living the dream, man.

If you haven’t seen this movie and are thrown by the change in tone - it’s totally meant to be a comedy, but with skeletons.

A second sequel to the incredible The Evil Dead series, this movie knows exactly what it is and who it’s for, and isn’t afraid to show it. It’s so campy and silly and just amazing fun all round - and doesn’t it look it?!

3. Friday the 13th

friday 13th movie poster design identity

Jason Voorhees, the man who inspired a million last minute halloween costumes, in the original movie.

Displaying the gorgeous artwork within him while he handles a bloodied knife. Genius! The artwork is beautiful and hand painted, the colour contrast is stark and the blood draws your attention immediately as the only real colour pop. We can tell immediately this is going to be a slasher flick, but other than that not too much is given away. One thing that is cleverly kept a secret is the iconic hockey mask! How much would that have ruined the mystery?

2. Halloween

Halloween movie poster graphic design brand identity

If there were points for creepy mystery (which clearly there are) then this one wins them all hands down. This is such an amazing movie and the poster gives you nothing. We know he has come home and that someone has a knife at some point. That’s it! All the big questions go completely unanswered. Who’s he? Is that a pumpkin? Why Halloween? Watch the movie and find out!

This poster paired with the super scary score from this film’s opening credits makes it a definite chiller before we even see Michael Myers slowly making his way towards us.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street

Nightmare on Elm Street movie poster graphic design

By far, my all time favourite 80’s horror movie and poster. To be honest, do I even need to explain why? Just look at it! It’s everything a great 80’s horror poster should be - gorgeously painted, creepy, super weird and just a little bit sexy. The claws are there but without any context, there’s a terrifying face just looming over poor Nancy, she’s got the kind of thousand-yard stare you’d expect from a teen being denied sleep by a murderous dream psychopath. It’s everything we horror nerds could ever ask for - and the movie totally lives up to the poster in creepiness, weirdness and sexiness (remember 18 year old Johnny Depp in a crop top? Whoo baby). The overall madness of this poster earns it the top spot on my very own horror movie poster list. Thank god for 80s Wes Craven.

Disagree with my list? Have any other absolute masterpieces to add? Leave a comment and let me know!