Hollywood has always managed to cash in with genre pictures. When it comes to cinema’s biggest bang for the buck, however, studios big and small continue to mine the spooky, blood-spattered realm of horror.
Few filmmakers have been able to get more from a meager budget than Eduardo Sánchez and Daniel Myrick. When the pair set out to turn their 35-page outline into a feature film in 1997, they’d cobbled together a mere $25,000. That modest budget gave the first-time filmmakers just enough loot to hire three completely unknown actors, drop them off in the woods with a couple of borrowed cameras, and hope that their efforts — and an out-of-the-box concept — would be enough to turn that rough outline into a genuinely unsettling found-footage chiller.
It was more than enough. The buzz behind The Blair Witch Project was so real that audiences flocked to theaters the summer of 1999 to see it. Many still believed it to be legit found footage, which had a lot to do with a radical marketing campaign that never quite confirmed or denied the movie’s authenticity. That the film itself is such a viscerally unsettling experience in its own right only fanned the flames, and the combination turned Blair Witch into an unexpected box office behemoth. With nearly $250 million in worldwide ticket sales, it ranks among the most profitable movies ever produced.
John Carpenter’s Halloween stands as one of the most revered horror movies ever made. The near flawless 1978 film essentially gave birth to the slasher genre, but it also paved the way for meticulously crafted character-driven scares. And as it happens, Carpenter’s groundbreaking slasher more than earns its spot on this list, because the Horror Master himself had a mere $325,000 to bring his frightful vision to life. Keep watching the video to see low budget horror films that turned out to be amazing!
The Blair Witch Project | 0:12
Halloween | 1:13
Paranormal Activity | 2:00
The Evil Dead | 3:10
Night of the Living Dead | 4:04