Independent Horror Films

Monday, April 4 by Jason Cuthbert

Many of the most noteworthy, widely recognized films that have scared audiences beyond belief have been independent horror films. As a matter of fact, all of these five independently produced horror movies have gone on to become franchises with additional sequels. If you are frightened by ghosts, weary of sadistic cannibals, or get disturbed by the thought of zombies, these independent horror movies will push your paranoia button.

  1. "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" The original 1974 incarnation of this independent horror film came from Tobe Hooper, who would go on to be hired to direct the horror hit "Poltergeist." This film established the disturbing chainsaw-wielding movie character "Leatherface", and his family of cannibals as they terrorize an innocent group of teenagers. Even with very minute on-screen violence, this cult-classic horror film still managed to get an R rating for it's disconcerting energy and was temporarily banned in Australia and London.
  2. "Halloween" Writer and director John Carpenter, also known for "Escape From New York" and "Big Trouble in Little China", introduced the world to the masked slasher Michael Myers with this gritty 1978 independent horror film. The $320,000 budget was so tight that it caused the prop department to use the cheapest mask they could get their hands on, which was a "Star Trek" Captain Kirk mask, in the likeness of actor William Shatner. They proceeded to spray paint it white – and with a few subtle alterations – the iconic identity of this killer was born.
  3. "28 Days Later" Before succeeding with "Slumdog Millionaire," director Danny Boyle helped stimulate a zombie craze in cinema with this independent horror film. Cillian Murphy stars as Jim, a coma patient who wakes up to a version of home that he no longer recognizes, a virus has wiped out the majority of his local population. With independent funding from the British Film Council, Boyle managed to create a horror film that reportedly prompted famed author Stephen King to buy out an entire showing in New York City.
  4. "Paranormal Activity" For a mere $15,000, this independent horror film about a demonic spirit haunting a suburban home was created, and shot at the writer and director Oren Peli's home in 10 days. He was inspired by personal experience to tell this story after a detergent box fell off of his shelf further than it should have landed. This film became so successful that Paramount Pictures released a sequel and the two lead actors Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat renegotiated their pay after receiving $500 initially.
  5. "The Blair Witch Project" This independent horror film is structured around three film students meandering through a forest in Burkittesville, Maryland seeking to witness the supposed legend of The Blair Witch. This low budget horror movie made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for "Top Budget: Box Office Ratio" for a mainstream feature length film. Its production cost was $22,000 and it earned back $240.5 million, which breaks down to $10,931 made for every $1 spent. Also, until "My Big Fa Greek Wedding" game out three years later in 2002, "The Blair Witch Project" was the highest grossing independent film ever.