Horror has been killing it lately!
In the last 20 years, the number of new horror film 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 film to stand out from the literally hundreds of others to get as many asses in those cinema seats as they can .
They often do this with over-the-top viral marketing campaigns to spread the word. Here are eight of those campaigns:
to smile (2022) – Baseball “Smilers”
Here’s one of the actresses at the Mets vs. Athletics game on September 23rd. Positioned just behind home plate, she was grinning from ear to ear, staring practically motionless at the camera and wearing a yellow t-shirt with “Smile” written across the front.
People (myself included) didn’t know right away that this was a marketing campaign, so watching it live on TV was super scary.
carrie (2013) – “A Telekinetic Surprise in a Cafe”
The prank involved a woman getting angry after a man spilled his drink on her laptop. With pulleys and remote controls, she appeared to be telekinetic. She seemingly pinned him against a wall and lifted him off his feet.
The grand finale came as she let out a terrifying scream as pictures fell off the walls and books flew off the shelves.
The cafe’s customers lost their shit.
This pipe-wielding construction worker was ready to protect the whole place.
And this guy dropped his poppy seed bagel.
The film also advertised a phone number to call where Margaret White could be heard yelling at Carrie, reciting scriptures and humming. You can listen to them here:
The Blair Witch Project (1999) – The Myth of the Witch of Blair
The filmmakers and then Artisan, who bought the film after seeing it at Sundance, distributed and pasted “missing” flyers of the film’s three stars, who used their real names in the film, all over the college campus.
A website was created to further fool people that this was an actual missing persons case and that there was a real Blair witch.
A few weeks before the film’s release, Curse of the Blair Witch Premiered on the Syfy channel (then Sci-Fi).
The film and its intense guerrilla marketing were an apparent success.
The ring (2002) – Unmarked VHS Tapes
DreamWorks created several websites (now defunct) such as sevendaystolive.com reporting on “the ring virus” and anopenletter.com explaining what happened after you watched the haunted videotape.
Around the film’s release, people reported finding unmarked VHS tapes on their windshields that contained the film’s 1.5 minute video.
After sneak previews of the film showed that audiences weren’t 100% interested in it – or had even heard of it – The ringThe studio changed tactics a bit and started airing TV spots that showed real footage of a terrified audience watching the film and brief testimonies from people who had just left the theater.
rings (2017) – “TV Store Prank”
In the prank, a clerk at a hardware store led customers to a wall of televisions to show them “the new 4K technology.” As he spoke, one of the televisions slid unobtrusively into the wall, revealing Samara, the film’s villain.
And, boy, did she scare them?
The video went viral immediately, garnering over 200 million views in just 24 hours of posting. You can watch it here:
The Last Exorcism (2010) – Chatroulette prank
When a lucky few were browsing Chatroulette in the summer of 2010, they were connected to what they thought was a live video chat with a random woman. However, it was actually recorded video of an actor.
She stopped abruptly, pushed her hair back from her face and stared straight into the camera. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head, she let out a guttural scream and lunged for the camera. The screen went black and the movie’s URL appeared on the screen.
People she chatted with freaked out, and Lionsgate got some pretty good reactions. A compilation video has been released of the best, which you can watch here:
timeline (2012) – “Flying People in New York City”
In a “prank” set to be filmed by strangers, remote-controlled planes shaped like humans were flown over New York City.
Viewers who knew nothing about the film naturally filmed the planes without knowing exactly what they were seeing.
Finally, Thinkmodo uploaded her video to YouTube explaining the prank and that it was an advertisement timeline. You can watch the video here:
And finally, Scream (2022) – Fake TikToks
The account belongs to a fictional teenager named Sarah who lives in the fictional town of Woodsboro, California Scream occur.
Eventually, her best friend, Ash, disappears, and that’s two days before the release of the new one Scream film, she posts her latest video, in which she drops her phone on the way to a party and Ghostface picks it up.
Do you remember other over-the-top marketing campaigns? LMK in the comments!