A good trailer is a rare thing. Most trailers look and sound exactly the same, because no one wants to risk the financial fate of a movie. If you make a trailer that’s somehow different and the movie flops, suddenly you’re to blame for its failure.

So I have a lot of respect for the trailers that dared to break that rule, even just a little bit, to give us something new and make us sit up and take notice. (The sad irony is that, as far as I can tell, these trailers seemed to have mostly worked.)

Here are some of my favorite horror movie trailers, in no particular order.

The Exorcist

Epilepsy warning. This trailer has a lot of flashing – that’s what makes it so interesting. Regan’s face is its focus (just as she is in the movie, of course), and yet we barely see it.

The Shining

There’s something audacious about simply letting a scene from the movie just speak for itself, but what a scene. It says nothing about the movie’s plot, but at the same time, it kind of says everything you need to know, doesn’t it?

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3

This one is a little less “artsy”, but it still conveys a lot. It’s for the third movie in a franchise, after all, so all we really need is to see Freddy’s claw, and we know. The girl’s song is ominous, and Freddy’s claw smashing upward gets me pumped.

Alien

The trailer for Alien has this dark, hypnotic rhythm to it. The music builds a tempo as people run through dark corridors, and the editing gets faster and faster – until something bursts, and all hell breaks loose. And of course, there’s that great tagline: “In space no one can hear you scream.”

Antichrist

This isn’t such a radically different trailer as trailers go, but man does it pique my interest. Lars von Trier’s “experimental-horror” Antichrist shocked viewers and critics when it came out, and it’s easy to see why. And what a way to end that trailer.

What do you guys think? What are your favorite horror trailers? Let us know in the comments.

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About The Author

I saw 'Mars Attacks!' in theaters when I was five. I still think it's the greatest horror movie for five year olds ever made.