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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Bad Movies  |  What Makes a Truly Scary Movie « previous next »
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Author Topic: What Makes a Truly Scary Movie  (Read 9383 times)
Joe
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« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2007, 10:04:22 AM »

Quote
Shoot at night and use little light except what the flashlight and nature gives you.

i wouldnt do that, ive tried, its a cool idea but when it comes time to look at the footage its very poor, youll only be able to see the light and your camera will constantly be re-focusing itself(assuming its on auto-focus) when the light is moved around especially if a character shines it awy from the camera then back at it. your gonna need some type of light source out there with you with mabey with a filter on it. there is a lens you can buy that actually makes a day shot look like night but your on a budget.  i assume your shooting on mini dv, what kind of camera are you using?

its tough to make a serious movie. any jackass can just go running aroudn shooting things with a camera but when your making a serious flick theres alot of things you have to worry about and work with even if it is low-budget. idk i shoot for quality on a minimum budget, i look for little tricks and things online. i just recently contrstructed my own dolly system using some cheap stuff i bought from home depot, you know its not metal, its wood and pvc ,but it works all the same. use what you got to its full potential.
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Oldskool138
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« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2007, 11:07:41 AM »

The easiest way to scare someone is to remember this quote from fellow Rhode Island homeboy H.P. Lovecraft:

"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."

If you want to scare the audience, be ambiguous but not so much that you alienate them.  I enjoy horror movies or stories that have the characters playing a part in some larger plot without know what's going on or the ramifications of their actions.  Keep your monster hidden as long as possible so the reveal will be that more shocking.

P.S.- I've been a fan of this site for a long time and I'm glad to join the badmovies.org family!  Stay Scared!
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zombiedudeman
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« Reply #17 on: February 07, 2007, 12:11:46 PM »

music helps a lot with the scares, I hate when movies use actual songs they just ripped from a CD, use instrumental/atmospheric scores that fit the mood of a scene

Exploiting taboos is scary too especially when you make the characters someone the viewer can relate to, it makes the viewer feel like they could have been the victim. I personaly find gritty no-budget rape scenes more terrifying than a million dollar CGI ghost with fast MTV-style editing or even gore (which I don't even find scary at all).

Have children be threatened too. Children close to death alone really freaks out people.
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Dave M
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« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2007, 06:47:22 PM »

1. I think a little originality can go a long way in a horror movie that is obviously very derivitave of something like Night of the Living Dead or Evil Dead (most low budget horror movies are pretty much unauthorized remakes). So try doing some stuff noticably different:
     a. The slut and the black guy survive.
     b. It's concieved of as part twelve of a series. (If the movie idea's a LOT like Evil Dead, set it many years after the cabin incident, try to imagine an alternite version of what COULD have happened to Ash instead of Army of Darkness)
     c. Monster turns out to be kind of sympathetic/rational.
     d. Some misdirection to make it look like it's going to have a Scooby Doo ending.
(Hmm, tried to come up with four really original approaches and C and D are actually kind of cliches). Anyway, what I'm getting at is that the way horror is now, you can get hailed as a genius for making a movie that's merely derivative of NotLD rather than a virtual remake. Like the victims are on the move instead of besieged, and they have flashbacks.

2. Play to the phobic zeitgeist in some way, like when Bram Stoker made vampires sexually charismatic in victorian times. This is why vampires aren't scary at all to the modern audience, except for old school, unsexy pre-Stoker vampires, like in Salem's Lot. Do you have some insights into the current equivalent of how victorians were about sex? How about the phobic way people are now about either being percieved as prejudiced, or actually being sub-conciously prejudiced, unbeknownst to themselves? Just an example. Hit lots of phobic triggers like "Loss of faculties due to mutilation" and "spiders and snakes", throw in some contemporary stuff (according to personal insights you have about the phobic zeitgeist, since it's your movie)

3. Lovecraftian stuff. Not references to Cthulhu, actual Lovecraftian stuff, like the suspicion that the world as we know it is a wishful delusion disguising some dismal reality. A worst case scenario universe, governed by incomprehesible, impersonal forces that are indifferent to the point of hostility to all human values. Everything that would suck about a Godless universe, combined plausibly with everything that would suck about a universe packed with gods. Maybe read some of Lovecraft's correspondence and notes, and kind of hint at this.

4. Simpathetic victims, not too stupid or deserving of death. Someone the viewers can identify (probably near the same age as the people likely to be watching, etc)

OK, now I'm just going on because I wanted to think of more than three. Maybe later.

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ulthar
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« Reply #19 on: February 07, 2007, 07:04:32 PM »

I thought of another example that imo exemplifies a lot of what everyone is saying: CARRIE.  It has the expectation factor (you KNOW something wierd is happening/will happen, you KNOW those rascally kids are up to no good with Carrie) that takes it's own sweet time to play out.  Carrie is at the same time sympathetic and abhorrent.  The characters, while perhaps cliched to some extent, are given enough depth that we can identify with them (even the antagonistic ones).

Another thing I thought of regard to character development is that I think this should come first, before you start killing off characters.  Maybe it's just a personal taste thing, but I think movie deaths of throw-away characters are a waste (of my time, the film's time, fx resources, etc).  If you want to MOVE your audience, to push them into fear, make them care that so-and-so got axed. IMO, too many horror movies have the cheap set-up of throw-away undeveloped characters (usually near the beginning, but not always) just to set the tone.  I think the tone is far darker if it's someone we care about.

Another one to look at is THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE.  The director did a LOT of subtle visual manipulation of the audience with color.  Orange meant one thing, green another, etc: fear, peace, general wierdness.  The director used it like a throttle on the viewers emotions...ratchet up the fear...get up there, then turn on the peacefulness a little.  Kinda like foreplay.  :)   It was well done, imo, to the point that before something scary was happening on screen, that anticipation was built subconciously by the color of the walls in the scene!  Other movies have used this well, obviously.
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« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2007, 07:35:41 PM »

Another thing, i'm sure you know, but just in case...

Please, do NOT make the characters joke around fakely when in danger. i see that a lot in real boring dumb movies that don't even seem real because of this. for example: characters are driving in car, being chased by a dinosaur. "Ahh!! Oh Jim, I hope you got auto insurance!!" ....dumb, and pathetic, when i hear things like this, even half as bad as that, I just want to turn the TV off and leave.


Also, i'm sure every oen has said this, but just to defend it even more...

Make it seem relalistic, not 500 goblins and demons and monsters (unless of course, that is what you are going for, but its not going to be very scary, just a bad/boring movie, or a "B" movie), but if you intend to have a demon like you are saying, make him seem as human as possible, if that makes sense. if he has 40 special powers and lazer beams from his eyes, and hes invinible, thats not good. and he shouldnt be all wicked cool looking and all this stuff, he just has to look what a demon would look like in real life, think about how he would have to live and breathe, and defend himself.

And also (once again, i know this has been said already), but the book thing to start off, ehhh, doesnt seem like it would be that scary. but since you are going for more of a scifi-ish horror (with the book and demon and all), then it suits it i guess.
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ulthar
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« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2007, 07:42:05 PM »


he just has to look what a demon would look like in real life


Only on this board will that statement be received by all with straight faces.    BounceGiggle
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peter johnson
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« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2007, 11:35:46 PM »

Yeesh!
What strong opinions we all have on this topic!!
I read over what everyone says, and I think I'm with Dennis most of all here --
Also, happily surprised by the number of us out there making films -- Good on ye all!!
What makes a movie scary?
DON'T SHOW THE MONSTER . . . EVER!!or, if you MUST show the monster, wait until the very end of the film, and show it only fleetingly.
The very best horror movies/scary movies have done this:  The Demon.  The Innocents.  Quatermass and The Pit, aka 5 Million Years to Earth.
The quality of Pursuit makes for tension and scares as well.
Placing your protagonists in danger when they have no idea how badly they are in danger makes for a very creeped-out audience.
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Torgo
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« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2007, 11:41:44 PM »

As long as you don't put a Space Monkey in your movie, you should be fine.

Contrary to popular opinion, kids don't love Space Monkeys.
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« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2007, 03:24:11 AM »

The mentions of Lovecraft have been interesting. What sets Lovecraft apart form a whole lot of other writers is the basic helplessness of his characters. This plays both on a macro level ( Mankind is essentially powerless against the influence of ancient cosmic forces) as on a micro level: the Lovecraftian characters are rarely trying to destroy the monster, restore justice or whatever. They are basically trying to get out of there. They are bystanders who are trapped in a nightmarish situation and are just trying to escape.

It is this feeling of helplessness that give Lovecraft his frightening quality (I think)
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« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2007, 06:50:33 AM »

Quote
DON'T SHOW THE MONSTER . . . EVER!!or, if you MUST show the monster, wait until the very end of the film, and show it only fleetingly.
Yes, just make every death some schlub running through the woods (monster's pov) only to trip on something and die in an offscreen death.
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Joe
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« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2007, 09:42:03 AM »

Quote
and he shouldnt be all wicked cool looking and all this stuff, he just has to look what a demon would look like in real life, think about how he would have to live and breathe, and defend himself.

but its a f**kin demon, i mean does it really have to breath or find a way to live? im sure it doesnt have to eat or drink, at the most mabey where it dwells and most demons i would think(at least in my mind) would come standard with razor sharp claws and teeth to "defend" itself. what the hell is that supposed to mean anyway? "what a demon would look like in real life" what a demon would look like if it were appearing before you is merely whatever your mind can conjure up what YOU think a demon would look like because they arent real so if they are supposed to have a specific look we wouldnt know cause they dont exist therefore cant be seen. i may have a different vision of what a demon would like than you and so does the guy creating the prosthetic make-up for the actual demon character so there is no "realistic" look for a demon.

mabey i took that a little too far.....sorry havin a bad day.

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CoreyHeldpen
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« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2007, 10:21:31 PM »

Let's see...according to Hollywood, apparently movies with quick cuts and harsh, loud noises are scary...oh yes...and don't forget the girl "ghost" (usually wet for some reason) with the pale skin and sunken eyes.  Lookingup

Don't worry, there won't be any of that.  Smile

Anyway, here's a few of my ideas, the most interesting and relevant ones:

1: Don't show the Demon too much, maybe a dark figure running through the trees every once in a while; keep its appearance simple, yet creepy; have it kill its victims often in bloodless yet horrific ways, ie drowning them, beating them to death with its fists, dropping them off heights. Every so often I guess it'll butcher someone with its claws, but mostly dry deaths.

2: Have realistic, non-stereotypical characters, ie the blond girl isn't a slut, the black guy doesn't wise crack all the time, the jock isn't a stupid brute.

3: There's a forest surrounding a lake near my house. The Demon will, of course stalk these woods, and this of course will be where the freaky satanic book will be found (what is it doing here? The hell if I know).

4. I've got to think of WHY the Demon is killing people. I can't just say "well, I guess it just doesn't like humans", that'd be rather dumb.

5. Perhaps the hero could be driven (or nearly driven) to madness trying futilely to stop the Demon, thusly having to contend with both the monster AND his own fractured mind?

6. The reason why a monster running around killing people scares ME is because there's always the possibility my friends or family could be the next victims. I'm already thinking of how to use that. Another thing that scares me is that it could somehow get into your house. The Demon here is has both human-level intelligence and somewhat above peak human strength. It could easily infiltrate someone's home.

What do you all think of these ideas? 

 
« Last Edit: February 08, 2007, 10:55:38 PM by CoreyHeldpen » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2007, 06:13:05 AM »

My opinion:

Quote
1: Don't show the Demon too much, maybe a dark figure running through the trees every once in a while; keep its appearance simple, yet creepy; have it kill its victims often in bloodless yet horrific ways, ie drowning them, beating them to death with its fists, dropping them off heights. Every so often I guess it'll butcher someone with its claws, but mostly dry deaths.
Sounds like a good balance, especially for a limited budget. The drowning death is not often used in monster film, and should be interesting to see the execution! Smile

Quote
2: Have realistic, non-stereotypical characters, ie the blond girl isn't a slut, the black guy doesn't wise crack all the time, the jock isn't a stupid brute.
No comment, good idea

Quote
3: There's a forest surrounding a lake near my house. The Demon will, of course stalk these woods, and this of course will be where the freaky satanic book will be found (what is it doing here? The hell if I know).
Wasn't it going into the city towards the end of the film? Remember that guy's idea for where the book is found (or is it just sitting in the woods somewhere?)

Quote
4. I've got to think of WHY the Demon is killing people. I can't just say "well, I guess it just doesn't like humans", that'd be rather dumb.
I figure, ya' know, it's from hell and stuff...

Quote
5. Perhaps the hero could be driven (or nearly driven) to madness trying futilely to stop the Demon, thusly having to contend with both the monster AND his own fractured mind?
Here's something not used too much outside of The Thing! Very interesting, but remember, this type of insanity doesn't happen in seconds! (unlike what Scarecrow Slayer tells us)

Quote
6. The reason why a monster running around killing people scares ME is because there's always the possibility my friends or family could be the next victims. I'm already thinking of how to use that. Another thing that scares me is that it could somehow get into your house. The Demon here is has both human-level intelligence and somewhat above peak human strength. It could easily infiltrate someone's home.
Good luck!
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« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2007, 06:39:30 AM »


4. I've got to think of WHY the Demon is killing people. I can't just say "well, I guess it just doesn't like humans", that'd be rather dumb.

 

Well, I'm not sure you need to worry too much about that. You can basically go along with 'I'm a demon, this is what I do' explanation. Mind you, it would be interesting if it wouldn't be just random violence. Perhaps he could have some purpose, such as fulfilling an ancient curse, or killing whoever woke him, or reclaiming his sanctuary. That way there would be method to his madness. On the other hand, knowing that there is something dangerous and bad tempered out to get, is usually enough to get scared.
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"Once you get past a certain threshold, everyone's problems are the same: fortifying your island and hiding the heat signature from your fusion reactor."

Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! ... Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput.
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