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Horror Stories

Articles - Directing

For
decades the horror genre has helped would-be cinematic masters
get their start in the movie business. Many have used horror just
to cut their teeth, but others have never strayed too far from their
roots. Here are a few facts about some of our favorite scary success
stories:

The Blair Witch
Project
(1999)

Directed by: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez
Budget: $35,000 Budget: $140,530,000
Shot on: 16mm and Hi 8
Did you know:

  • The film was marketed as a documentary
  • The three lead actors shot much of the film
  • Nearly all the dialogue was improvised
  • Before the film was released, the three
    main actors were listed as “Missing—Presumed Dead” on
    IMDB.com ?
  • The movie made the Guinness Book Of World Records for budget/box
    office ratio

The Blob (1958)
Directed by: Irvin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
Budget: $240,000
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:

  • In the script, the blob is called “the
    mass”
  • This was the last film in which Steve McQueen was credited
    as Steven McQueen
  • The blob was created with a weather balloon early on, and colored
    silicone gel later
  • In some of the promotional materials, Aneta
    Corsaut’s
    character is referred to as “Judy,” though her name
    in the film is “Jane”
  • During the drag race, exhaust can be seen
    going back into the car’s exhaust pipe

Eraserhead (1977)
Directed by: David Lynch
Budget: $10,000 Budget: $7,000,000
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:

  • The film took five years to complete
  • John Nance kept his hair in “Eraserhead” fashion
    for the duration of the project
  • The original script was only 20 pages long, making financing
    a difficult task
  • David Lynch still will not reveal how the baby was created
  • It was one of Stanley Kubrick favorite films
  • Lynch headed up nearly every department on the film, with credits
    for the music, editing, art direction, sound and special effects

The Evil Dead (1981)
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Budget: $150,000 Budget: $2,400,000
Shot on: 16mm
Did you know:

  • The famous “eyeball-in-the-mouth” scene
    was inspired by the Three Stooges?
  • Raimi and actor Bruce Campbell began their
    collaboration in high school, where they made many Super8 films
    with Sam’s
    brother, Ted
  • The film’s title was changed from Book of the Dead,
    as producers feared that kids wouldn’t see a movie with
    the word “book” in the title
  • The Arabic passages read from The Book of the Dead translate
    to: “Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi are the men on the side of
    the road”
  • To film the opening sequence, Raimi shot from a dingy while
    Campbell pushed him

The Exorcist (1973)
Directed by: William Friedkin
Budget: $12,000,000 Budget: $128,660,000
Did you know:

  • Friedkin was known to “scare” his actors into character,
    firing a gun before saying “action”—and reportedly
    even slapping someone across the face
  • Ellen Burstyn suffered a permanet spinal
    injury when a harness pulled her away from Regan’s bed
    too quickly, throwing her to the floor… The scene remains
    intact.
  • The Exorcist crew was the only Amercan film
    crew ever allowed to shoot in Iraq
  • In the original script, Burstyn’s character stated “I
    believe in the devil.” She would only agree to make the
    film if the line was removed.
  • Directorial duties for were first offered to John Boorman,
    who declined because he thought the film was cruel to children…
    Boorman later directed its sequel, The Exorcist II: The Heretic.

Friday the 13th (1980)
Directed by: Sean S. Cunningham
Budget: $700,000 Budget: $56,920,431
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:
n The producers wanted Sally Field for the lead?
n Tom Savini came up with the idea for Jason’s “re-emergence” at
the end of the film, and would sneak into theaters during the last five minutes
to see how the audience reacted

Halloween (1978)
Directed by: John Carpenter
Budget: $325,000 Budget: $65,500,000
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:

  • Because filming took place in the spring, set designers had
    to purchase paper leaves and paint them… To save money, the
    same leaves were used throughout the film.
  • The film is set in Haddonfield, Illinois, but all of the cars
    have California license plates
  • Michael Myers wears a William Shatner mask
  • The entire film was shot in 21 days
  • Halloween is one of the most successful independent
    films ever made

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Directed by: George A. Romero
Budget: $114,000
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:

  • Tom Savini was originally hired to do the make-up, but was
    called for military duty in Vietnam
  • Duane Jones is the first African-American to play a lead role
    in a horror film
  • Columbia Pictures passed on the film because it was in black
    and white… In 1990, however, the studio released the colorized
    version.
  • The zombies were paid $1 for their work—along with a
    T-shirt that claimed “I was a zombie in Night of the
    Living Dead
  • One of the film’s investors was a
    butcher, who paid Romero in blood and guts

Scream (1996)
Directed by: Wes Craven
Budget: $15,000 Budget: $140,000
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:

  • Drew Barrymore was originally cast in the
    lead… She dropped out because of scheduling conflicts, but
    offered to play the
    role of “Casey.”
  • When the MPAA asked Craven to cut the stabbing of Casey, he
    claimed (falsely) that he had only shot it once? The scene remains
    intact.
  • Approximately 50 gallons of fake blood were used during the
    production?
  • In his role as Fred, the janitor, Craven wears the same outfit
    as Freddy Krueger
  • The film’s original title was Scary Movie

The Sixth Sense (1999)
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Budget: $55,000,000 Budget: $293,502,000
Shot on: 35mm
Did you know:

  • The movie was shot in sequence
  • Shyamalan pitched The Sixth Sense as “The
    Exorcist
    meets Ordinary People
  • The film was 2000’s top video and
    DVD, with more than 80 million rentals

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Budget: $140,000 Budget: $30,859,000
Shot on: 16mm
Did you know:

  • Leatherface is based on serial killer Ed Gein
  • The film was shot in chronological order
  • Hooper had intended to get a PG rating
  • Many of the actors claim that, because of
    the shooting conditions, much of the blood in the film is real— their
    own!

Information courtesy of the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com)

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