One of the best things about horror film posters is the obligatory tagline. Some of them are catchy and increase your interest in watching the film, others are silly, some are unforgivably campy, and others are outright ridiculous. The best horror film poster blurbs, however, are typically a blend of all the aforementioned components. Many of our favorite taglines are almost a lampoon of themselves, but somehow, that has become part of the magic. It’s almost as if the worse the pun, the better the audience response. The heyday of the outlandish promo blurb was at its height when the slasher film was at its peak, but that’s not to say that contemporary horror cinema hasn’t brought us some dandies. With that in mind, we present to you 20 of our most favorite horror poster taglines from the 1970s to present.
"Horror has found a new home."
This tagline wasn’t really representative of the film’s content – nor was the cover art - but both were completely memorable and completely awesome. The film itself is a lot of fun. We give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
"If Nancy doesn’t wake up screaming, she won’t wake up at all."
One of the greatest slasher films of all time, A Nightmare on Elm Street sported an equally great tagline and a fantastic hand-painted poster, to boot. The whole experience oozes awesome.
"You have the right to remain silent... forever."
Maniac Cop was fairly average slasher fare. Bruce Campbell made the film more enjoyable than it should have been. The tagline, however, is anything but average. It showcases the hybrid of creativity and stupidity that was requisite to most of the great horror film taglines of its era. Well done.
Return of the Living Dead: Part II
"Just when you thought it was safe to be dead."
This sequel to the fantastic Return of the Living Dead is not of the same caliber as its predecessor. But, it’s not half bad, either. The film’s branding slogan rose above the quality of the film, itself. We think it was a stroke of genius.
"Give me a K. Give me an I. Give me an L. Give me an L."
This late ‘80s slasher is memorable for starring Leif Garrett, as well as for its misleading cover art, and ridiculous promo text. Though the film isn’t that bad, the poster art and slogan are far better than the film is.
"The King of Rock and Roll vs. The King of the Dead."
This Don Coscarelli comedy horror hybrid is all sorts of outlandish. It’s derived from an absolutely wild concept and it’s only fitting that it would have a tagline to match.
"They pledge themselves to be young, stay young… and die young."
Future Melrose Place star Daphne Zuniga plays identical twins in this sorority house slasher. The movie poster art features a co-ed who is also a candle. Like the poster, the film’s tagline is a little silly, but combined with the over-the-top nature of The Initiation; we find the artwork and slogan to be completely fitting and completely awesome.
"Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg!"
Chopping Mall is a blast. The blurb and the hand-painted poster merely serve to enhance the experience. Nothing about Chopping Mall suggests that you should take it seriously, but everything about it suggests that you will have fun.
"It’s not human, and it’s got an axe!"
We revisited this flick for the latest installment of Be Kind, Rewind. As we said, before, it’s pretty forgettable. The phrase “It’s not human and it’s got an axe” is pretty unforgettable, though.
"Buy a bag... Go home in a box."
This 1990 slasher always makes me feel like it’s from an earlier time – like the ‘80s. The slogan is a personal favorite of mine and the movie itself is pretty great, too. The way Popcorn pays homage to monster movies of years past makes it a winner by our calculations.
The House on Sorority Row
"Where nothing is off limits."
The House on Sorority Row came out in 1983, as the slasher boom was beginning to wind down. It is an excellent specimen of a film, though. The sisters are wickedly fun to watch and the film’s tagline fits it perfectly.
"Twice the terror. Double the D’s."
A blurb that is just as silly, just as offensive, just as mindless, and just as fun as the film. We find it perfectly fitting. It’s obvious that John Gulager had fun making Piranha 3DD and you should have fun watching it. But by no means should you look for even a modicum of deeper meaning in it.
"You don’t have to go to Texas for a Chainsaw Massacre!"
Both the feature and its promotional slogan are derivative of the superior Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but Pieces is not to be discounted. It is a very amusing work of grindhouse cinema. The film has a certain giallo quality about it. It keeps the viewer guessing as to who is responsible for the seemingly random acts of violence plaguing the college campus within the feature. And, though derivative, the tagline is quite inventive.
"The Class of ’81 is running out of time."
We are suckers for a catchy tagine. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more than a catchy tagline and creative poster art to this picture. Graduation Day is another example of a film with cover art and a promotional caption that are better than the actual movie. This Troma film is B-grade at best. Tromaville has much better titles to offer horror fans. Click here for some of our suggestions.
"The night He came home!"
This is such unique and effective marketing text. The poster doesn’t even tell us who "He" is, but it makes prospective viewers curious and also furthers the positioning of Michael Myers as a shape or an inhuman entity.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
"You made it through Halloween. Now try and survive Christmas."
Like Pieces, one could say that the catch phrase for Silent Night, Deadly Night is derivative, but it is also very clever. SNDN is possibly the most controversial slasher film of all time. It’s interesting that it stirred up so much controversy when films like Christmas Evil and Black Christmas predated it by several years and were also violent tales of Christmas fun gone horribly wrong. Regardless, we commend the film’s publicity team for referencing the success of Halloween and stirring up controversy with their tagline.
"Some guests never check out."
Like a lot of critics and fans, we assert that Ti West brought a valiant effort to The Innkeepers, and for the most part, that shows in the finished product. The film’s tagline could easily be from a 1980s fright flick and we suspect that was the intended association. Regardless of intent, the film’s promotional blurb is brilliant.
My Bloody Valentine
"There’s more than one way to lose your heart..."
My Bloody Valentine is about as bloody as they came in the 1980s. The MPAA was determined to make an example out of MBV and forced the censorship of several scenes in the film. The blurb that the poster uses might be a little bit cliché and a little bit expected, but truthfully, we think it was the perfect choice.
"Some things won’t stay down… even after they die."
The bloodiest film of all time deserves an equally garish tagline. And we regard Dead Alive’s catch phrase as a fitting and highly appropriate choice. It’s always a bit of a shock to think that this came from the same mind that brought us the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
"Herbert West has a very good head on his shoulders… and another one on a dish on his desk."
Re-Animator has one of the wordiest taglines of any ‘80s horror film, but it perfectly matches the wry wit that this Stuart Gordon masterpiece so gracefully employs throughout the course of the film.