When discussing indie films, many people make a fuss about the film’s budget. Certainly, because indie films are more likely to be a risk, many films require a relatively small budget. Although not all indie films have a small budget, a budget under $10 million tends to be considered a relatively small one. What can you make with less than $10 million? Look at this list of terrifying horror movies and get some additional information on the ones that came about for under $10 million.
Psycho: $800,000 ($6.9 Million in 2020)
As the movie came out in 1960, it makes sense that Psycho’s real-dollar cost and its adjusted cost would be so different. However, even at $6.9 million, Psycho still has the lasting cultural impact of a movie that had much more funds behind it. Terrifying scares abound in the Psycho movie, many of them pulled directly from the pages of the book upon which it’s based. An especially terrifying scene occurs in the basement, where the main character finds Norman Bates’ mother as a mummified corpse.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: $1.4 Million ($6.7 Million in 2020)
In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, everything is pretty campy and looks as though it was meant to be a B movie. The low-budget look of the movie was fueled by an actually low budget — adjusted for inflation, the movie was slightly less expensive than Psycho. Still, The Rocky Horror Picture Show uses this budget to its maximum. In the basement of a British palace, Dr. Frank-N-Furter keeps his Medusa Transducer, which he uses to turn people into statues.
Get Out: $4.5 Million
Get Out, which was released in 2017, had a $4.5 million budget, which is mostly comparable with a $4.5 million budget in 2020. That’s an extremely low budget when you look at the final picture that came out of it. This movie has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster movie, but at a fraction of the cost, paying tribute to what you can do with a relatively small budget. The basement is home to a truly horrifying scene, wherein the main character undergoes hypnosis and travels to the Sunken Place.
A Nightmare On Elm Street: $1.8 Million ($4.4 Million in 2020)
A Nightmare on Elm Street has the look of a much bigger budget; in fact, the 2010 remake had a comparatively giant budget of $35 million. This movie, however, with its small budget, kicked off a franchise that has grossed more than $750 million, not adjusted for inflation. In the movie, the boundaries between dreams and nightmare become blurred. Freddy’s boiler room is called the Nightmare Factory, as it’s where he tortures and kills people.
The Evil: $700,000 ($2.7 Million in 2020)
By keeping The Evil in a single home, the director was able to keep the budget ultra-low at under $1 million in its day. Even the effects in the movie manage to be convincing without requiring a lot of money. The whole movie bases itself around the idea of a home with a terrifying basement — the basement is actually a portal to hell.
The Evil Dead: $400,000 ($1.1 Million in 2020)
As the lowest-budget movie on this list, both adjusted for and not adjusted for inflation, The Evil Dead is an interesting example of horror. The filming process weighed pretty heavily on the actors, and principle photography took place mostly in just one location. The scariness peaks with the introduction of the Deadites, who live in a basement of the Tennessee home that serves as the backdrop to most of the movie. Even creepier is the fact that the home has burned down since filming.
Clearly, it’s possible to create a terrifying and convincing horror movie for a very nominal budget, just as it’s possible to create a boring horror movie on a huge budget. Especially if you’re looking into the indie genre, consider watching some of these movies to get an idea of how low-budget movies can be just as good as the big-budget options.