Subgenres of Horror from A to Z

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Are you a die-hard horror fan? Are you someone looking to expand your horizons, and find just the right kind of horror for you? Well, we’ve got just the thing. We’ve dissected the horror into the nine main subgenres of horror with our recommendations on where to start with each.

How many types of horror are there?

Categorizing the subgenres of horror genre is harder than you might think. We’re not talking about the periodic table of elements here. It gets murky. There’s a lot of overlap, a lot of genre-bending and crossover. If you asked ten popular horror writers to make a list of subgenres within the main genre, you’d get ten different lists.

But let’s tackle it anyway!

We’ve broken horror down into fourteen categories or subgenres. These subgenres of horror account for the majority of horror fiction available today, while also harkening back to the origin of the genre.

Apocalyptic | Avant Garde | Camp | Cosmic | Comedy | Dark Fantasy | Experimental | Found Footage | Gore | Gothic | Lovecraftian | Paranormal | Post Apocalyptic | Psychological | Sci-Fi | Splatterpunk | Supernatural

What are Horror Genre Characteristics?

Horror can range from internal terror to jump scares. Each sub genre has different characteristics but they all have one thing in common. They are intended to scare you.

Without further fanfare, let’s explore the most popular subgenres of horror fiction, with some sterling examples and basic characteristics of each genre.


Apocalyptic horror centers around the collapse of civilization. The world you know it can no longer exist with a complete collapse of systems and order. In horror this subgenre is often closely tied to sci-fi creatures such as the classic alien invasion, mysterious demons like Aamon coming to enslave mankind, and of course major religious events coming to fruition.

Best Apocalyptic Horror Movies

Avant Garde

For this subgenre, we’re getting a little weird. Avant Garde is as social a movement as it is an artistic one, with artists standing at the forefront of our preconceived notions of acceptable art and ideas. In horror literature, this takes the shape of mind-bending twists and impossible odds. In comics, it is the same incredible evil with terrifying and spine-tingling art. Recommended reading: Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer. Uzumaki, by Junji Ito. Sleep of Reason, by Spike Trotman.

Best Avant Garde Horror Comics

Body Horror

This subgenre of horror intentionally focuses on grotesque or psychologically disturbing violations of the human body. From disease to dismemberment the core of it is what can happen to the human body. It is not unusual for this to also include sexual, alien infestation, strange movements, transformations, and utter destruction of the human body. We’re talking everything from Human Centipede (is this really even horror?) to John Carpenters “The Thing.”

Camp Horror

Camp or sometimes called “kitsch” horror is often seen as low budget or at least at odds with its budget even if it has one. It is rebellion in its own right. Rebellion that uses overly dramatic acting, cliches out of context and storylines that drive critics insane. Yet, many have become cult classics in their own right.

Camp is very well summed up in this quote

Indeed the essence of camp is its love of the unnatural: of artificial exaggeration. And camp is esoteric — something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques.

Susan Sontag from “Notes on Camp” essay

Comedy Horror

Tucker and Dale vs Evil Movie Poster

When dark humor just isn’t enough we have comedy horror. Accidental gore films like Tucker and Dale vs Evil to subtle quips from Ash Williams in the Evil Dead. A common theme in Comedy Horror is the victim who stumbles through the film and somehow manages to survive.

Cosmic Horror

The cosmic horror genre is both personally existential, and darkly expansive. The darkest corners of space, the pitch-black pits of demons, the sense of no real control, the fear of the unknown, and dread that comes with the ineffable size of the universe. This genre is strongly tied to H.P. Lovecraft who brought it to life with novellas such as At the Mountains of Madness (1936), The Shadow over Innsmouth (1936), and The Shadow Out of Time (1936). “The Shape Of Water” by Guillermo Del Toro or “The Imago Sequence and Other Stories” 2009 by Laird Barron are other strong modern works of cosmic horror. Space itself and extraterrestrial adventures also play a preeminent role in the genre, with standout comics like Nameless, by Chris Burnham & Grant Morrison, and Southern Cross, by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belager.

Best Cosmic Horror Movies | Best Cosmic Horror books | Best Cosmic Horror Comics

Dark Fantasy

These novels give readers the best of both worlds. They contain fantasy elements like magic, strange creatures, etc. They also add a dark layer of terror and suspense, just to keep things interesting. Recommended reading: The Citadel of Fear, by Gertrude Barrows. The Girl From The Other Side , by Nagabe. Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Marrie Pommepuy.

Experimental Horror

Experimental horror by its very nature it hard to define. Often extreme and generally controversial experimental horror pushes the boundaries of a genre that is already in the boundaries. Sometimes shocking and sometimes even confusing this genre is best described as “you will know it when you see it.”

Folk Horror

Folk horror is a subgenre of horror for film, books, comics or television which includes elements of folklore or urban legends as the inspiration of the main focus of horror for the story. Sometimes stated as “based on a true story” this subgenre loosely uses the phrase “true story” as many of these legends have little fact checking if any at all.

Found Footage

The Blair Witch Project movie poster

Although found footage films date as far back as the 1960’s the seminal work in horror is often considered to be The Blair Witch Project. Shakey cameras with low production quality are the foundation of the story. This genre has exploded with cell phone footage and continues to grow today. Possibly due to the ease in which someone can create a found footage horror film.


Also sometimes labeled as a splatter film the main focus of the film is well the blood, guts and dismembered body parts. Shock is a key element of this genre. Movies such as the SAW series are famous for the difficult to watch torture sequences. The main goal is for the audience to wince in disgust as the victims bodies are torn to bits. This genre crosses out of fiction with some popular series in the 80’s and 90’s with actual death in them but we only focus on fictional horror here so we will leave that for other sites and forums to discuss.


Gothic horror goes way, way back. In fact, it’s the literary predecessor to the horror genre we know and love today. So in terms of cultural education, this subgenre warrants some attention. These dark, brooding stories often blend romance and horror, with a side dish of death. They’re usually atmospheric stories, where the setting itself becomes a kind of character. Recommended reading: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Dracula (The Graphic Novel), by Bram Stoker and Jason Cobley. Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn. The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill.

The Best Gothic Horror Comics


H.P. Lovecraft often described his own work as “weird tales.” But they contain horror elements as well. He created his own subgenre that many writers still emulate today. Lovecraftian fiction often focuses on cosmic elements that are beyond human understanding. Thus, it’s also referred to as “cosmic horror.” These stories can make us humans feel small and insignificant, in the grand scheme of things. Recommended reading: At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, by Thomas Ligotti. The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle.

ghost or supernatural spirit


Merriam-Webster defines paranormal as something that is “not scientifically explainable.” That’s a broad definition. When it comes to horror fiction, the term “paranormal” usually refers to ghosts, hauntings, demons and possession. And there is some truly frightening fiction that falls into this subgenre. Recommended reading: The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. The Shining, by Stephen King. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (it fits here, as well).


The world as we know it has ended, and something terrible has risen in its place. Post-apocalyptic fiction challenges us to envision a world beyond our own, a doomsday scenario that takes us into uncharted and often terrifying territory. Not all post-apocalyptic fiction uses horror elements. Some of it falls into the dystopian category. But there are plenty of good stories out there that paint the end of the world in horrifying hues. Recommended reading: Swan Song, by Robert McCammon. Monument 14, by Emmy Laybourne. Feed, by Mira Grant. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.


The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari poster

Put the ghosts, monsters and slashers aside for a moment. Let’s talk about the psychological effects of horror. The internal terror and the long lasting trauma that occurs under moments of major duress. Psychological horror fiction uses intense human emotions like fear and dread to grip the reader, with a healthy dose of anxiety and suspense on the side. Recommended reading: Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin. Come Closer, by Sara Gran. Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris.

Psychological horror also has a rich history in books and film that dates back to the late 1800s.

Scary Documentaries

Yep even documentaries can be a subgenre here and these have certainly become more popular. Unlike the found footage genre these have at least some reason to believe the experience were real. They are often paranormal experience but also look at things like serial killers. We’ve compiled a list of the most terrifying documentaries and it sure looks like horror to us.


Mad scientists, experiments that did not go as planned, alien invasions and creatures we never wanted to know coming into existence. This subgenre of horror crosses well into Cosmic Horror but maybe with a touch less existential dread. You know where the alien came from and you know the moment the scientist crossed the line. We’ve explored the history of sci-fi horror here.

Best Sci-Fi Horror Books | Best Sci-Fi Horror Comics


Splatterpunk is a genre of horror fiction notable for its graphic and gory depiction of violence and sometimes sex. The term was coined in 1986 by David J. Schow at the Twelfth World Fantasy Convention in Providence, Rhode Island. Splatterpunk is regarded as a revolt against the “traditional, meekly suggestive horror story.” Notable horror film icon Clive Barker has dabbled in the genre.


The supernatural subgenre of horror overlaps with the paranormal category. Again, we’re dealing with things that “appear to transcend the laws of nature,” according to Merriam-Webster. I’ve broken this out into a separate category to distinguish it from the ghostly and haunting world of the paranormal. Here, we’re talking about werewolves, witches, and other things that defy the laws of nature. Recommended reading: Wytches, by Scott Snyder. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. The Hunger, by Alma Katsu. B.P.R.D., by Mike Mignola.

Best Supernatural Horror Comics | Best Supernatural Horror Streaming Online

So there you have them, the popular subgenres of horror with some representative works to keep you up at night. For more literature, Puzzle Box has original literature as well as features on Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker.

Survival Horror

This subgenre of horror is typically found in video games. The point of tension, like much of horror, is surviving the environment. The main character is often put to the test to survive against all odds. It’s often considered “action horror” due to the physical activity often required to survive. Apocalyptic horror scenarios are often used for survival horror.

True Crime

Pretty straightforward as the title implies. The subgenre of horror is based on real life horrors that have happened. The most popular arena here is serial killers with movies and documentaries about people like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and more. The main focus is it must be from a real life crime. With that said, these are often dramatizations of the events not to be confused with the scary documentaries subgenre.


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Surprising Facts About the Friday the 13th Movies

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Interesting Facts About Jason Voorhees & F13 (Friday the 13th Movie Fun Facts)

Behind the Scenes: The Making of the Friday the 13th Franchise

Everyone knows the iconic sound of the chilling “Jason is coming” tune throughout the Friday the 13th.  This horror is repeated millions of times every day throughout the world…”Chi Chi Chi….Ka-Ka-Ka!” Where did the Friday the 13th franchise get it’s scariness? How did Jason Voorhees develop into the feared slasher that he is known as today?  Horror Enthusiast hid under a couple of cabins, crawling around Crystal Lake to get some answers! Enjoy some of the most interesting and viscous Friday the 13th Fun facts and trivia!

Interesting Facts and Trivia in the Making of the Friday the 13th Movies

Inspiration for the Famous Musical Prelude

The famous musical prelude of a Jason kill, his “Chi Chi Chi…Ka-Ka-Ka” tune was composed by Harry Manfredini.  This piece was created to resemble a voice of a child (presumably a younger Jason Voorhees) speaking to his mother, who is technically the killer in the first movie.  The voice is supposedly trying to say “Kill Kill Kill…Ma Ma Ma,” in an effort to encourage her revenge-inspired murders.

Characters Named After Video Game Users

The tenth film in the franchise, Jason X (2001), features  characters that were named after writer Todd Farmer’s friends.  These friends being people who played the video game EverQuest (released in 1999) with him.

Jason’s Highest Kill Count (for one movie)

Jason X (2001), also known as “Jason in Space” to many (rather disgusted) horror fans, features a super deadly Jason.  He claims 28 victims in this one single film, making it the highest kill count movie for Jason Voorhees, of all time.

Fake Props Cause Real Stir

Movies frequently use fake props in place of real objects and products in order to save money.  Many fake props get mistaken for real items during production and can create a bit of a ruckus.  While filming the second movie in the franchise, Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981), a fake telephone booth was a regular set highlight.  People would try to use this booth on a regular basis only to storm off angrily when it would not work, leaving the crew and cast bursting in laughter.

A Transferred Franchise

Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) was the first film in the franchise to be produced by New Line Cinema.  Up until then, Paramount had been at the reins, all the way back to the original movie in 1980.

Many Filming Locations

Camp Crystal Lake is much bigger than anticipated! It turns out that the Friday the 13th franchise has been filmed in a number of places. While about half of the films were produced in California, the franchise has also seen movies shot in: Alabama, Georgia, Connecticut, Ontario, Texas and New Jersey (the original movie).

Sally Field

Sally Field almost played “Alice” in the original Friday the 13th movie. Instead, Adrienne King took the part (and did a fantastic job)!

Jason’s Highest Grossing Film

Jason always put on a good show, however, his best earnings were raked in during Freddy vs Jason (2003), in which he faces off against another horror slasher favorite, Freddy Krueger.  Strangely enough, this is also the case for Freddy. In fact, it turns out the two franchises are very close in total earnings. The Friday the 13th franchise has earned a total of more than $380 million, while the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise ranks a little over $370 million!  And still, the first film was still a strongly profitable venture, especially considering the shoestring budget!

Residual Involvement

The original movie’s write and director, Sean S Cunningham, helped pave the way for the franchise to grow into what it is today.  He produced a number of the films himself and helped produce all of the rest of the films as well by way of his production company, Sean S Cunningham Films.

Kevin Bacon’s Break Out Role

Although Kevin Bacon had a little experience before Friday the 13th, it was one of his first lead roles paving way for the successful career he has since enjoyed.

Freddy AND Jason?

Freddy vs Jason (2003) linked the two killers in the present alone, not providing any history of any substance between the characters.  Through a number of leaks, however, it has been suggested that there was talk of a backstory in some versions of the script which would have linked the two killers via a little history. One noted suggestion was that Freddy could have been a counselor at Camp Crystal lake, who at one point molested Jason before his real-life drowning. 

They probably steered around such a plot to associating Freddy Krueger fans with pedophiles…as the entire promotion of the film seemed to encourage fans to ‘choose a side.’ And ultimately, who would want to side with a pedophile?

Freedom of Creativity

The Friday the 13th franchise was great for giving a lot of directors the ability to both write and direct a movie.  Sean S Cunningham (Friday the 13th, 1980), Tom McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI, 1986), Rob Hedden (Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, 1989) and Adam Marcus (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, 1993), all get to experience this freedom in creativity! 

Final Words About the Making of the Friday the 13th Franchise

Painting of boat scene from Friday the 13th horror movie

Friday the 13th is one of the oldest of the horror movie slasher franchises. Jason and the Friday the 13th franchise has helped defined the scares and fear experienced throughout the entire horror genre altogether.  Like many of the other killers, Jason was able to secure notoriety based upon two key elements: a mask and a weapon. The creators of the franchise, however, have secured notoriety based upon their ability to scare the living hell out of audiences for decades! Thus, Jason Voorhees will live on through the movies he’s made, and the movies to come…for any time they tell us there will never be another Friday the 13th, we find Jason slashing a few years later again!


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Surprising Facts About the Halloween Franchise

Scary Movies and Series

Behind the Scenes, Secrets and Easter Eggs in the Halloween Movies 

Almost everyone and their mother has seen or at least heard of a Halloween movie. Michael Myers is famous for his shadowy movements and knife-slashing ways.  And while this mask-wearing creep might seem pretty straight forward…the Halloween franchise has hidden a few secrets, Easter Eggs and behind the scenes tidbits throughout the films.  These are some of the greatest and most shocking  Halloween movie trivia and secrets there are!

Most Surprising Things About the Halloween Movies and Michael Myers

The Fear Meter

Halloween (1978) was filmed out of sequence, and so badly in fact, that director John Carpenter created and implemented a “fear meter” to help Jamie and cast understand exactly how scared they should be in each scene.

Marion’s Recurring Role

Most people overlook Dr Loomis’ nurse from Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) being the same actress, playing the same role (Nancy Stephens playing Nurse Marion) as from Halloween (1978) and Halloween II (1981).  She smokes in the earlier movies as well as in the later movie…where Jimmy’s friend asks her if anyone has ever told her that smoking kills. She replies cleverly with “Yea, but they’re all dead.”  Ironically, she dies pretty much at the end of that cigarette.

Jamie Lee Curtis Found Herself in the Halloween Movies

Jamie was nervous all the way up to the end of the first day of filming Halloween.  She reportedly spent the entire first day of production panicking over what she believed to be her poor performance. She even thought she was going to be fired. However, by the end of the day, John Carpenter himself called Jamie to congratulate her on securing her role as Laurie Strode, being very happy with her performance.

Mocking Jason Voorhees

In the beginning of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998), short-lived character, Jimmy, scares Dr Loomis’ nurse, Marion, while wearing a hockey mask that looks eerily similar to the mask worn by Jason Voorhees. There is also a part in Halloween Part 4: the Return of Michael Myers about a third of the way into the movie where Michael Myers himself is seen wearing a hockey mask instead of his own mask while stalking Dr Loomis. Admittedly, some fans contest this scene, attributing the hockey mask-like shape to poor lighting and bad camera skills.

Season of the Witch III Director Cameo

The third installment of Halloween, Season of the Witch, is the only installment that is not about Michael Myers. Most people do not realize that the director and writer, Tommy Lee Wallace, is also the Silver Shamrock Commercial Announcer (voice only) throughout the film.

Laurie Strode Lends a Voice

Jamie Lee Curtis, the star who plays Laurie Strode in the first two movies (and 3 subsequent sequels years later), lends her voice as the Curfew Announcer and Telephone Operator in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.  This is an uncredited role…and more of a cameo appearance.

Michael Meyers

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later shows a newspaper clipping that features a misspelling of the infamous horror slasher…spelling his name “Michael Meyers” instead of “Michael Myers” (within the first 15 minutes of the film).

The Original Director Almost Directed H20

Halloween H20 (1998) was almost directed by the original Halloween director-genius, John Carpenter. There was a disagreement about compensation which left Carpenter feeling underrated, and a bit of bad blood due to Carpenter feeling he was underpaid for the original film.

One of the Most Successful Independent Films of All Time

is there a ghost in halloween painting of a man looking in a haunted room

John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) was one of the most successful independent films, ever.  The budget for this film was a mere $300,000. The earnings were more than $47 million in the US alone. Today, the earnings would have been much higher due to inflation (probably somewhere around $150-200 million today). No wonder Carpenter felt he was underpaid!

Driving Michael to His Death

An obvious blooper exists on the road to Michael’s death in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, when Laurie is driving him while he rests in the body bag towards the end of the film. The road from the driver’s windshield looks rocky, windy, dirty and rough; however, from the rear window, it looks smooth and paved, complete with painted lines.

Mr. Sandman

The song “Mr. Sandman” plays in two halloween movies, being found in Halloween II (1981) and also Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998). John Carpenter, writer of Halloween I and II has revealed in an interview that the song was chosen to represent Laurie being alone, and because it is eerie sounding.  It has been speculated that Carpenter wished to use the song in the original movie but had not yet secured the rights due to finances.

Dick Warlock’s Audition

Halloween II (1981), the nurse-slaughtering sequel, featured a different Michael Myers than the original film.  Dick Warlock won the role by stalking director Rick Rosenthal in his office wearing a Michael Myers mask. He reportedly wouldn’t respond to anything Rick said until he felt he had scared him enough to ask for the role. Creepy.

Final Words About Halloween & Michael Myers

The amount of passion that has been poured into the Halloween franchise is overwhelming, and thus the fictional killings have taken on a form of their own. So many people are involved in the creation of the Halloween movies, that there is no end to the creative killings. Thus, there are also an endless number of mistakes, bloopers and funny facts about the movies that result. Without a doubt there are still many Easter Eggs and secrets to be discovered throughout the Halloween films.  And the best part? They keep making new ones!


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Surprising Facts About the Saw Movies

Scary Movies and Series

Interesting Facts About Saw

Finding yourself trapped in a Saw movie is probably one of the worst nightmares most horror fans could imagine!  The Jigsaw killer is calculated and has planned out his extravagant plots long before a victim even figures out what is happening.  So how did the writers and creators of the Saw movies devise such an intricate horror slasher?  Horror Enthusiast has pried through the traps and devices that make the movies and Jigsaw killer, to offer fans some of the most heinous Saw movie fun facts!

Interesting Facts and Trivia in the Making of the Saw Movies

A Title Change

The final Saw movie, Jigsaw (2017) was originally supposed to be called “Saw: Legacy.” This movie is often considered a bonus to fans (and to the creators), as the 7th film in the franchise, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010), was supposed to be the last Saw movie produced!

Saw’s Film Style

The intended film style for the original movie was to be through security footage only. In other words, the film would be presented as though it were found footage from security cameras laced together. Despite how it may have turned out [awesome], the creators of the original Saw still give credence to the Blair Witch Project as their initial inspiration for a Saw-type movie.

A Difference In Opinion

Saw wasn’t meant to be about blood and guts. The gruesome outcomes of the traps and insane violence that is seen in many of the later Saw movies did not match the vision the first movie’s creators had for a psychological scare with a twist ending. Regardless, some fans love the Saw films for psychological thrills and others for the straight up gore!

A Believable Relationship

The lead roles in the third film went to Tobin Bell (no surprise) and Shawnee Smith. It was decided that the two would spend several weeks hanging out and getting to know one another before the film so that their relationship would appear more natural.

Straight to Video Release

The original 2004 masterpiece was a super low budget film (only about a million dollars allocated). It was intended to go straight to video and most of the actors shot all of their scenes in just a day or two.  However, even more impressively, all of the filming was complete within 18 days total.

The Saw with the Most Traps and Deaths

Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) is the movie in the franchise with the most traps (11) and the highest kill count (27 bodies counted).

The Longest Saw Film

Saw III (2006) is the longest of the 7 Saw movies. Saw III officially ranks in at 108 minutes…that’s a lot of carnage!

Jigsaw Inspiration

Leigh Whannell created the Jigsaw character (not the puppet but the idea of John Kramer) after having a bit of a scare during an MRI.  He began imagining a desperate person who would become psychotic after learning they were going to die.

Saw II Takes the Cake

The first sequel of the franchise, Saw II (2005) takes the cake for the highest grossing Saw film in the entire franchise. This is true both in the United States, and from within its home territory, Canada.

An Original Prop

The creepy little doll that rides around on a bicycle and represents Jigsaw was an original prop.  This Jigsaw ‘puppet’ was made from complete scratch by crew themselves (largely made by director/writer, James Wan himself).

The Longest Pre-Production Saw Film


Saw 3D: The Final Chapter (2010) was the longest pre-production Saw film in the franchise. This is because of the intense process involving interweaving 3D effects with real-life acting. Despite other Saw films averaging a 9 week pre-production prep time, the 3D sequal would take 21 weeks!

Largely a Canadian Franchise

The original Saw (2004) was the only movie in the franchise to be filmed in California. The entire rest of the 7 Saw films (including the latest Jigsaw movie) were produced and filmed in Ontario, Canada.

NC-17 Rating

The original Saw movie (2004) earned itself an initial rating of NC-17 mostly because of the sound and lighting. Obviously the producers decided to change that up a little bit in order get an “R” rating for threaters. Oddly enough, sound and lighting is not normally the reason fans hear later down the road (usually they have to tune down the gore and violence instead).

Final Words About the Making of the Saw Franchise

The Saw franchise is one of the most creative and innovative of the horror movie franchises. The deaths are typically unique and mechanical in nature.  The slasher’s motivation is also unique and creates sympathy among the audience. The victims are usually given a chance and considered people who do not value their lives or the lives of others…making for truly interesting “in between death drama.” One of the most interesting things about Jigsaw is that his legacy continues to claim victims long after he has passed.  Whether others commit the murders on his behalf, or people wind up in traps he has already set for the future, he is one of the most intelligent horror movie killers and racks up one of the highest body counts of them all!


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Surprising Facts About The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Films

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Interesting Facts About The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The beloved flesh-wearing favorite, Leatherface, has been responsible for some of the most gruesome kills on screen of all time.  He is a terrifying monster to encounter, especially if you’re traveling in a Volkswagen bus from the 70s!  With that being said, many horror movie fans wonder, how did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre get so gruesome? What were the deciding factors in determining the scariest look and feel to this horror classic?  Horror Enthusiast has searched deep through the horror and ‘macabre’ that was witnessed throughout the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies to find the most interesting and amazing Leatherface and Texas Chainsaw facts!

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie Trivia

Two Family Names: Hewitt and Sawyer

The sadistic, cannibalistic family that stars throughout the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies actually had two different last names, depending upon the movie in the franchise.  The first, third and fourth movies did not give the family a last name.  The second film refers to the family as the “Sawyers.”  The fifth and sixth Texas Chainsaw installments use the last name “Hewitt.” And the seventh and eighth movies return to using last name “Sawyer.” No clear reason has been given for the name change.

Tobe Hooper Has Hooks In Place

Director of the original 1974 horror masterpiece, has been somehow involved in literally every single Texas Chainsaw Massacre project.  He directed and helped write the first two films. He helped write the 3rd and 4th films. And he helped write and/or produce the 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th films. 

A Director Fired and Then Rehired

Leatherface close up from Texas Chainsaw Massacre

The third movie in the installment, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III 1990), lost it’s director, Jeff Burr, when he was fired near the beginning of production.  After looking for a new director and finding no one else would accept the job, he was rehired.

The True Inspiration for Leatherface Wasn’t Ed Gein

A lot of people instantly assume that Ed Gein was the primary inspiration for a flesh-mask-wearing killer. However, Tobe Hooper reveals in an interview that the true inspiration for Leatherface was a story he heard from a doctor once about his time in medical school.  The doctor was taking a cadaver class and decided to creep into the morgue at night and skin one alive to create a scary Halloween mask for himself.

…and thus Leatherface was born…

Top Grossing Chainsaw Films

Other than the original movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), only the 5th installment has not been a flop.  The 5th movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) was slated to be a loose remake of the original, with Jessica Biel leading the cast.  The original movie made a profit of more than $30 million dollars (US domestic box office), while the 2003 remake raked in a whopping profit of more than $70 million (again, US domestic)!  No other chainsaw movie has come close to a profit even close to the original film!

The Worst Grossing Texas Chainsaw Massacre Movie

Most people recognize the second movie as the worst (probably because they go to see a horror film and wind up seeing a comedy). However, truthfully, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 doubled it’s budget in US domestic gross.  The worst movie in the franchise was the 4th in the franchise, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994).  Despite this flop making less than $150,000 in the United States, this film featured some of the cast most famous today from any of the Texas Chainsaw movies. The fourth installment will showcase both Renee Zellweger and also Matthew McConaughey.  In fact, Sony would try to re-release this flop a few years later after McConaughey and Zellweger would rise to fame.  After they threatened to bail on all future Sony projects, the re-release was halted.

A Damaged Soul

Most horror fans do not realize that Leatherface did not start out so evil.  He was injured and suffered facial damage, as revealed by director Jeff Burr in an interview following the third movie, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.  Burr also speculated his vocal cords could have been damaged as a result of the injury, hence his inability to talk.  However, other sources have indicated a mental deficiency and that Leatherface was born a little slow (also providing a possible explanation as to why he is mute).  Regardless, plenty of the movies and/or the comic series give the audience ample reason to feel badly for Leatherface, despite his murders.

Cameo Appearance: Marilyn Burns

Leatherface with his chainsaw weapon from Texas chainsaw massacre horror movie

A lot of fans seem to miss Marilyn Burns’ cameo appearance in the fourth film, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation (1994). In one of the final scenes in the hospital, she is a patient that is on the gurney. In the credits, this role is listed as “Anonymous.”

Real Chainsaws

While theme parks around the world hosting their version of “Halloween” mode feature a ton of fake chainsaw-wielding actors…the real Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies used real chainsaws. They were scary and intimidating.  Actor Renee Zellweger commented in multiple interviews that the experience was dangerous, and she wasn’t sure it was all legal.  She explained that a real chainsaw behind you made for incredible motivation!

A Narrator to Remember

Almost any Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan can recall the eerie feeling they get when the original movie begins with a crude film strip and narrator voicing an introduction about the “terror and macabre” that the young persons would experience that day.  What most people do not realize, is the same narrator was hired to record the narration for the 2003 remake! It is the same voice folks!

The Original Film Title

There were a number of choices for the original film title. Two of the most notable runner-ups to the eventually-selected “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” included “Head Cheese” and “Leatherface.”  Leatherface would later be used in a couple of film titles…making it’s debut; however, Head Cheese would only appear in the script of the first movie, serving as some Volkswagen butchery small talk.

Final Words About the Making of the Texas Chainsaw Franchise

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise has set the bar quite high for slasher movies in the similar horror sub-genre of “getting stranded in a remote place.”  The truly horrifying results of long-term gore and carnage by Leatherface and his family has left their properties riddled with human remains and flesh, creating an immensely terrifying movie setting. Ultimately, Leatherface is one of the scariest, careless and most viscous killers of all horror movie slashers. He will likely go on to mutilate many more victims and remains one of the most feared killers of all time!


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