Friday, October 16, 2015

The Typography of Horror

A good horror movie leaves a viewer scared and afraid to turn out the lights at night. But before your butt is in the seat—and before the first teen couple has sex in the woods and dies—you've seen a movie poster of sorts that got you interested in the first place. Each of these posters use imagery and text to cultivate a mood of fear and suspense.

Nosferatu started it all and began a trend of type treatment in 1922. If a movie is supposed to disturb and scare the audience, the title should do the same. The most common way of doing this is by distressing or rendering the text to give it that personality. "Nosferatu" is done in hand drawn type and given a shaky feel, like it was actually trembling.

As creature features became popular, they too were advertised prominently with large, hand drawn type. These titles often featured drop shadows and/or blocky, organic type. Posters from this era also made a point of emphasizing other information on these posters like the technology used and the actors and director. As time went on, this other information would be treated specially in the hierarchy to emphasize certain selling points. 

Saul Bass was notable at this time period for designing the posters and title sequences for many a movie. The horror and suspense films he did were more psychological in nature, and he designed them as such.

Bass' type treatment wasn't as heavy as those of the creature features. Instead, he made them slight and off-kilter like the characters in the films.

The next big trend in horror type was during the emergence of over the top slasher films in the late 70s and 80s. Since these films made a point of being violent and gory, the titles were designed to be exactly that.

These titles were done in thick brushstrokes that you can imagine being literally painted in buckets of blood, or carved in flesh. 

Today, horror movies utilize a variety of different type treatments because there is a wide variety of horror sub-genres. 

Now there is a trend of taking clean, traditional typefaces and contrasting them with rougher imagery 

or vice versa.

Horror movies and type treatment have developed a unique relationship that sets them apart from other movies and posters. We can recognize horror films just from the type treatment. Many of these cult hits have their own individual type treatments that are now synonymous with their franchise, and that goes to show how influential their typography is.

Other cool posters

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