I’m not quite sure what it is about the human psyche, but on some level, we all love the adrenaline rush of a good scare. Maybe it makes us feel more alive or maybe it’s that deep down we all just want to live a little dangerously. Whatever the case, our passion for a good scare is witnessed by the long and successful history of horror movies.
In a sense, the same characteristics that make up a great horror movie also constitute what makes a great horror movie logo. When it comes down to it, there are a few things that all great horror films have in common:
- Suspense – The best horror movies have a fantastic build and engage the viewer by making you wait as long as possible for the big scare
- Fear – Fear defines the genre of horror films more than just about anything. The ultimate goal of a horror film is to scare you and fear becomes the driver of the action onscreen.
- Blood – It’s pretty much a given that if you’re going to see a horror movie, you’re going to be witnessing some pretty gory and gruesome scenes.
Interestingly, the three primary characteristics that link all horror films can also be found in some of the best horror movie logos. Many of the logos designed for horror films employ an impressive use of space to create a feel of suspense. Take a look at the logo for the 1979 classic, Alien:
On the surface, there really isn’t much to this logo, but look at the incredibly wide spacing between the letters. That spacing helps establish a tone for the film without seeing anything else. The meticulously blocky font and the greenish glow also give the Alien logo a feel of otherworldliness. Again, even without knowing anything about the movie Alien, the logo feels cold, suspenseful and a bit other-worldly.
Other horror movies have seemingly taken a page out of Alien’s book and have crafted logos that are equally eerie and suspenseful. Take a look at the logo for the 1998 film The Ring:
With it’s hand-scratched font and weird backlit circles, you look at this logo and immediately start wondering what it means. The Ring logo engages you immediately, which is exactly what a great horror movie does. That a horror movie logo can accurately convey the tone of an entire movie is quite amazing, but time and time again, we see horror movie logos that are scary, suspenseful and surprising.
Take, for instance the logo for 1978’s classic zombie flick, Dawn of the Dead:
This logo is the stuff of nightmares! I can’t even glance at it without a chill running down my spine. The Dawn of the Dead logo is a great example of how horror movie logos play up the fear factor. When you see this logo, you absolutely know that this is not a movie to bring your kids to. Above all else, it is crucial that a horror movie logo set the right tone and ultimately that tone is fear. Take a look at the logo for Saw, which came out in 2004:
Even though you can’t see any blood or chainsaws or evil looking dudes, you absolutely get the feel that this is not a nice or easy movie. The weird mismatched fonts, the stark black and white colors and the eerie scratch marks make the Saw logos one of the scariest. Again, without knowing anything about the film, the logo still helps tell the story and set the scary tone.
While the Saw logo is fairly understated, there are other horror movie logos that have gone for a much more obvious approach. Unsurprisingly, red is a common color choice for horror movie logos. The significance of the color red is obviously important for a genre which prides itself in large part on the shock value and the amount of blood and gore that can be shown. In the logo for Friday the 13th, we see blood literally dripping off of the text:
Scary? Yes. Bloody? Most definitely. For many horror movie logos, creating a look that is suspenseful and scary doesn’t push the bar far enough. The color red brings and intensity to a logo design that other colors just can’t convey. Along with being representative of the blood and gore in horror movies, using the color red helps signify that the film is going to be highly dramatic and intense. Take a look at the logo for 2003’s 28 Days Later:
It’s a horror movie logo that checks off all the major criteria of what makes a great logo. Scary, intriguing and intensely red, the 28 Days Later logo is one that draws you in immediately and puts you a little bit on edge. The logo for the 1960 classic, Psycho, does the same:
This logo is terrifying in all the right ways and is a perfect example of what a great horror movie logo should be. The blood red color and large, blocky font is unavoidable and intense. The slash marks, which play such a pivotal role in the film, offer a preview of what is to come. It’s a logo that is supremely scary without giving too much away. It’s surprising that such an in-your-face logo could be considered suspenseful, but again, the Psycho logo shows how great logo design can play in both worlds.
If you love horror movies (and who doesn’t love a good scare from time to time) – make sure to check out our Horror Movie Logos: A Celebration slideshow. We’ve compiled some of the absolute best and most well known horror movie logos in a celebration of one of the most creative film genres.