The horror genre has been with us since the advent of silent films. There seems to be a strong, inexplicable, and innate reason that people want to be frightened.

There are many reasons why horror films are so popular and successful at the box office. From the strictly budgetary point of view, horror movies are inexpensive to produce compared to other genres. Few locales, unknown actors, and cut rate special effects make for cheap thrills. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are examples of spectacular successes using that formula. Think about it. Both those films had limited locations, no-name casts, and relatively inexpensive special effects.

Another reason horror films do well at the box office is that the genre has a loyal and dedicated audience following. Fans will purchase tickets to whatever horror film is playing because they know what to expect.

A huge incentive to produce horror movies is the potential of creating a franchise. The combination of low cost and the possibility of having three or four sequels is intoxicating to studio executives. Franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Saw have total revenues in the billions and make them attractive to the majors.

There’s also another classification of horror films that have been out of favor for a while. They are the stylish, high production value, big budget horror films, like The Omen. They featured glossy, cutting-edge special effects, big-name actors and terrific musical scores. Its success spawned several sequels as well as high acclaim by movie critics.

So what’s stopping you? Do you write in the horror genre? Why or why not?

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Read Steve on Screenwriting by Steve Kaire the first Thursday of the month on Write On! Online. Kaire is a screenwriter/pitchman who’s sold eight projects to the major studios on spec without representation. For more from Steve Kaire, check out his CD: “High Concept-How to Create, Pitch & Sell to Hollywood and website: High Concept Screenwriting.

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