8 of Our Favourite Horror Movie Posters

In the movie poster game, Horror is often the top trump. It's a genre that offers designers a fascinating array of insidious iconography and creepy clichés to create some of the greatest promotional material in history. So, in the spirit of Halloween, we're talking today about some of our favourites!

The Exorcist – 1973 – Designed by Bill Gold

horror movie posters - The Exorcist

"It seems fitting to start with not only one of the most iconic horror movie posters, but arguably one the most iconic posters of all time. It's a poster that could have so easily been diminished by taking an obvious gruesome shot of the girl possessed, but was instead immortalised by this beautiful yet unsettling scene. Visually inspired by the 1954 painting "L'Empire des lumières" ("Empire of Light"), the piece depicts one of the most famous scenes in the movie, our protagonist standing in front the MacNeil residence silhouetted by a misty streetlamp glow. It's a stunning juxtaposition of the fight between good and evil, the light and the dark, that echo's the religious undertone of the whole movie. And to top it all off, the typography is just perfect." - Tom


Halloween – 1978 - Designed by Robert Gleason

horror movie posters - Halloween

"A classic, genre-defining slasher movie and a classic movie poster to match. Having studied the original Halloween during college, this poster really sticks in my mind. The composition is impressively simple and the individual elements of the poster tick all of my boxes, from the effortless retro typography to Robert Gleason's stunning acrylic centre piece. With this creative medium becoming a thing of the past, Gleason's artwork sits comfortably in the hall of fame of horror posters." - Andrew


The Unborn – 2009 - Designed by Bret Tanzer

horror movie posters - The Unborn

"It might not seem like an obvious choice for this list, but we love this poster for more than Odette Annable's 'aesthetic talent'. The reason is that it's absolutely riddled with visual symbology. Starting with the photographic positioning, the piece is a great example of using the rule of thirds to draw you eye initially to the lead character, before that horror movie cliché moment where you notice the boy in the mirror. Then we notice the boy's alignment with the stapline, clearly indicating him to be the source of the evil. In regards to her clothing, or lack of, this implies her vulnerability – as does the bathroom setting. We see, again, brilliant use of dark vs light with clothing choices (and generally across the whole poster), which is classic Horror semiotics. And finally, the positioning of 'the' within the bowl of the 'O' is deliberately crafted to nod at a child in the womb." - Tom


Scream and Scream Again – 1970 - Designed by American International Pictures

horror movie posters - Scream and Scream Again

"There are hundreds of beautifully painted horror movie posters from back in the day that could have made the list as the craft is so impressive but its 'Scream and Scream Again’ that makes the list because of its hilarious ad creative. ‘TRIPLE DISTILLED HORROR’ barely scratches the surface as the ad writer goes on to describe the horror in more detail: ‘... a vat of boiling ACID!’ A feeling unbeknown to the viewer, the poster artwork helps the imagination with a brilliant image of a body decomposing in acid at incremental stages. The rest of the poster elements are very odd, like the large black block acting as the acid vats negative space, and then there’s the inconsistent colour palette. The unintentionally humorous content of this poster make it a favourite of mine, and while the design is random, if not poor, I would hang it proudly on the wall of my study." - Andrew


The Conjuring – 2013 - Designed by Becker Design (now Filmograph)

horror movie posters - The Conjuring

"A chillingly beautiful photograph can say it all. Unsurprisingly, death is the key focus of this piece, with the lifeless foggy scene setting the stage for a single noose hanging where you might usually expect a child's swing. It's already incredibly unsettling even before glancing down to the shadows, to which you're met with a silhouette of a woman who, in reality, isn't there. It's a hair-raising moment that offers us a depiction of not just life vs death - but reality vs fantasy - in such a simplistic, eerie way." - Tom


Saw V – 2008 - Designed by Ignition

horror movie posters - Saw V

"Of the eight film horror series, the theatrical poster for the fifth instalment contains the least gore, but for me, is by far the most impactful. In a poster series that relies heavily on torture graphics and decomposing body parts, the fifth edition is comparatively tame. There are no severed limbs or rotting teeth to spell out the number of the chapter; a method that has become synonymous with the series; but the leatherface-esque Jigsaw (John Kramer) mask is a perfectly subtle hint at the disturbing gore that entails. By the fifth instalment, we realise that the fear factor of Jigsaw himself is far superior to the torture methods that he practices, and so after his death in Saw III, (oops, spoiler) the suggestion that his barbaric darwinian experiment will long be continued in a student-becomes-master type narrative is as chilling as the tortures themselves. While the film was unremarkable, this plot development is exciting for a Saw fan and the way it has been captured in this poster is most impressive." - Andrew


Dracula Has Risen From The Grave – 1968 - Designer Unknown

horror movie posters - Dracula Has Risen From The Grave

"One of a few movie posters for this 60's classic, the 'plaster' image is one of my favourites. The poster is a work of art not just because of the striking photography or, minimalist design, but because of how it plays so simply one of the most interesting symbiotic relationships in film psychology - that of comedy, sex and fear. It's fascinating to me how often horror movies intentionally try to evoke laughter and eroticism alongside terror – so when posters like this do all three in one effortless image; I can't help but smile." - Tom


Battle Royale – 2000 - Designed by Grégory Sacré

horror movie posters - Battle Royale

"Japanese horror films are notoriously scary and Battle Royale is a personal favourite. I’m aware this isn’t the official movie poster, but the alternative Battle Royale artwork by Grégory Sacré is visually stunning. The inverted treatment of the class photo is a nice touch, and a clever development on the original as the silhouetted school children are now infinitely more haunting. What’s most impressive is the way the bilingual typography is treated. The elegant serif font harmonises so perfectly with the graphic shapes of bold japanese characters. The pink, black and mint colour palette is a really welcome change from the exhausted conventions of the horror genre. Every element of the poster is so clever and considered, right down to the creepy watching eyes of the survival-possessed schoolgirl in the background image. Last but not least, I love the use of the character list and how the contrast of weapons highlight the gravity of the central narrative. Sacré’s typography is superb again and the overall poster is perfectly balanced as it flirts with being too busy and overdesigned." - Andrew