8 Over-the-top Horror Movie Marketing Campaigns

The horror has been killing him lately!

In the last 20 years, the number of horror movie releases has skyrocketed and there are more to see than ever before.

So it’s no surprise that we’ve also seen a lot of ~interesting~ marketing campaigns for horror movies over the years, as filmmakers need their movie to stand out from literally hundreds of others to get the most butts. in those movie theater seats. as they can

They often do this with hype viral marketing campaigns to help spread the word. Here are eight of those campaigns:


Smile (2022) – Baseball “Smilers”

Here is one of the actors in the Mets vs. Athletics on September 23. Positioned just behind home plate, she was grinning from ear to ear, staring at the camera, practically motionless, and wearing a highlighter yellow T-shirt with “Smile” written on the front of it.

People (including me) didn’t know right away that this was a marketing campaign, so it was really creepy to see it live on TV.

Twitter: @JomboyMedia

But I guess once people found out it was for SmileThey flocked to see him. The film cost $17 million to make but grossed $137 million worldwide.


carrie (2013) — “A telekinetic surprise in a coffee shop”

The prank involved a woman who was enraged after a man spilled her drink on her laptop. Using pulleys and remote controls, she appeared to be telekinetic. She apparently pushed him against a wall and picked him up.

The grand finale came when he let out a bloodcurdling scream, as pictures fell from the walls and books flew off the shelves.

The patrons of the cafeteria lost their minds.

This pipe-wielding construction worker was ready to protect the entire place.

And this guy dropped his poppyseed bagel.

The movie also advertised a phone number you could call where you could hear Margaret White yelling at Carrie, reciting Bible passages, and humming. You can listen to them here:

See this video on YouTube

LeSniperJF / Via youtube.com

carrie it had a budget of $30 million and grossed over $84 million worldwide.


The Blair Witch Project (1999) – The Blair Witch Myth

The filmmakers, and later Artisan, who bought the film after seeing it at Sundance, distributed and posted “lost” flyers of the film’s three stars, who used their real names in the film, on college campuses.

A website was created to further mislead people into thinking that this was a real missing persons case and that there was a real Blair Witch.

A couple of weeks before the film’s release, Curse of the Blair Witch premiered on the Syfy channel (Sci-Fi at the time).

The film, and its intense guerrilla marketing, was an obvious success.


The ring (2002) – Unmarked VHS Tapes

DreamWorks created several (now defunct) websites, such as sevendaystolive.com which discussed “the ring virus” and anopenletter.com which explained what happened after viewing the haunted videotape.

Around the release of the film, people reported finding unmarked VHS tapes on their windshields containing the minute and a half video of the film.

After trailers for the film revealed that audiences weren’t 100% interested in, or had even heard of, The ringthe studio changed tack a bit and began airing television ads that featured real footage of a terrified audience watching the movie and quick testimonials from people who had just walked out of the theater.


rings (2017) – “TV Shop Prank”

In the prank, a salesperson at an appliance store took customers to a wall of televisions to show them “the new 4K technology.” As he spoke, one of the televisions discreetly slid into the wall, revealing Samara, the film’s villain.

And, boy, did she freak them out.

The video immediately went viral, garnering over 200 million views in just 24 hours after it was posted. You can see it here:

See this video on YouTube

Paramount Pictures / Via youtube.com

rings it had a budget of $25 million and made $83 million worldwide.


The last Exorcism (2010) – Chatroulette prank

When a lucky few checked out Chatroulette in the summer of 2010, they logged into what they thought was a live video chat with a random woman. However, it was actually a pre-recorded video of an actor.

She stopped suddenly, pushed her hair back from her face, and looked directly into the camera. Her eyes rolled back into the back of her head, she let out a guttural cry and lunged at the camera. The screen went black and the URL of the movie appeared on the screen.

The people I was chatting with freaked out and Lionsgate got really good reactions. A compilation video of the best was released, which you can watch here:

See this video on YouTube

eOnefilms / Via youtube.com

The ad went viral and the film grossed nearly $70 million worldwide. It only cost $1.8 million to make.


Chronicle (2012) – “Flying People in New York City”

In a “prank” designed to be filmed by strangers, remote-controlled planes shaped like people flew over New York City.

Viewers who knew nothing about the film filmed the planes, of course, not knowing what exactly they were seeing.

Eventually, Thinkmodo uploaded their video to YouTube explaining the prank and that it was a promotion for Chronicle. You can see the video here:

See this video on YouTube

ChronicleNYC / Via youtube.com

Chronicle was made for $12 million and grossed over $126 million worldwide, which is more than 10 times its budget.


And finally, Scream (2022) — Fake TikToks

The account belongs to a fictional teenager named Sarah who lives in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California, where Scream occurs

His posts start out as just horror movie-related content, but after reporting on a new Ghostface killer in town, he starts posting about uncovering the identity of the killer, revealing information about new characters in the upcoming movie.

Eventually his best friend Ash disappears and two days before the release of the new Scream movie, he posts his latest video where, while on his way to a party, he drops his phone and Ghostface picks it up.

You can see his final TikTok here:

Scream it cost $30 million to make and grossed $140 million worldwide, which is a huge success considering it was released during the pandemic.

Do you remember any other hype marketing campaigns? LMK in the comments!

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