Horror Effects That Won't Scare Your Budget

By , posted 1 March 2012

Horror effects can make or break your horror film. But you do not have to blow your budget to get good effects for your film. The internet is just brimming with frugal horror effects tips. I have compiled some of the best ones below so you can take advantage of them for your own film.

Keep the effects simple
The best tip is to keep the effects simple and to a minimum. While this may feel limiting, sometimes less is more. Consider going with a human antagonist for your film. This can be just as scary as any other “monster” you could dream up. Mystery can heighten fear as well as buckets of gore in some cases. Consider having your monster hidden in the shadows most of the time. I hooded figure can go a long way too. But sometimes more is more and you just have to have hundreds of festering wounds and gushing cuts. If that is the case just make sure to take full advantage of the tips below.

Find an effects expert
The simplest way to get good effects is to find someone who is an effects expert already. They will be full of great tips and know how to get the most effect for your budget. You may have to pay them or they may do it because they love what they do. At the very least, you could hire them as a consultant. Either way, having someone who is passionate about (fake) blood gore is never a bad thing.

Get cheap props
There is no reason to spend a bunch of money on props for your film. There are so many free or low cost sources of great props out there if you are creative about it. The first thing you should do is make a list of all the props you will be needing. Then you should look around your house, work, and school for items you can borrow or take for use as props. Have all your production staff and actors do the same. Next, visit thrift stores, yard sales, pawn shops, and dumpsters in search of your props. When you are done with that, check what is left on the list and look for cheap sources at local retailers and online stores. You can find non working and dummy versions of items on online auction sites, for instance. A painted airsoft gun makes a convincing weapon as well.

Make good use of food items
You can get a lot of horror effects mileage out of food items. You can make anything from blood, gore, and organs to fake glass out of things from your kitchen. For fake blood, simply mix corn syrup, chocolate syrup, and red food coloring. You can thicken it up with corn starch. Adding different food colorings will give you different effects. You can use raw meat, especially cheap trimmings for gore or organs and body parts. Just make sure to handle them safely and wash your hands afterwards. You can make fake glass by mixing one part liquid glucose with two parts water and three and a half parts sugar. Heat this mixture in a pan on medium and then pour it into you mold and let cool. You can make windows, bottles, and anything else using this method.

Make good use of makeup
If you can learn how to make effective use of makeup, you can really keep your effects budget in control. Ordinary cosmetic products can go a long way. See what you can get via donations from all the women you know. They will often have products that they no longer use for one reason or another. Red lipstick makes for a good infected cut, and rouge makes for good bruises. Vaseline can be added to make cuts look fresh or to give a bruise a good shine.

Make good use of computer generated effects
These days, a lot of effects can be added in post production. Get a free video editing program, find someone with access to one, or see if there is a school computer you can use that has one. Add any effects that you could not afford to do using effects.

Emma Rae Curtis Is a horror movie enthusiast who also writes and researches everything Halloween. Costumes, party ideas, baby costumes, and makeup.

Reader Comments

More Posts

4 Filmmaking 'Rabbit Holes' To Avoid

Brian O'Malley from Screenplay Readers takes a look at four areas in the filmmaking process which can end up derailing an otherwise great project.

7-Mar-2018  • 

RED Announces the New Monstro 8K VV Full-Frame Sensor for WEAPON Cameras

RED has had an 8K sensor available for sometime in the form of the RED Dragon VV, but the announcement of the Monstro represents a significant step forward in both quality and simplification of the workflow.

10-Oct-2017  •  Benjamin Craig

Blocker App Brings Augmented Reality Shot-Planning to Your iPhone

With iOS 11 hot of the production line, mixed reality agency AfterNow has wasted no time leveraging Apple's ARKit to deliver a free augmented reality tool to help directors compose their scenes.

27-Sep-2017  •  Benjamin Craig

12 Angry Men- A Lesson in Staging

Using Sidney Lumet's '12 Angry Men', Andrew Saladino from The Royal Ocean Film Society looks at how blocking and staging can add emotion and density to scenes which may otherwise end up rather dull.

11-Sep-2017  •  Benjamin Craig

How to Make a Blockbuster Movie Trailer

The super-talented Craven Moorhaus and Zak Koonce (aka Auralnauts) have created the perfect blueprint for your blockbuster movie trailer.

18-Aug-2017  •  Benjamin Craig