7 Very Scary Movies That Were Shot On A Shoestring Budget

Just because a filmmaker is low on funds, that doesn’t mean the film will flop. Horror and monster movies are full of seat-jumping scares, innovative special effects, and crazy plot twists—often when they don’t cost loads of moola. Here’s a list of low budget films that made stacks at the box office despite maybe using a few ketchup packets for blood.

1. The Blair Witch Project – Budget: $60,000 / Box Office: $248 million

As many of us already know, this micro-budget blockbuster kicked off the “found footage” phenomenon. Later films to use this technique include 10 Cloverfield Lane, Chronicle, Phoenix Rising, and 80,000 other horror titles made between 1999 and today. Promoted as being a true story, it was clearly ahead of its time because the hype made it into an unlikely event film. Also, the Internet was way less of a thing back then.


2. Paranormal Activity – Budget: $15,000 / Box Office: $193 million

Paramount was scheming on its manipulative marketing campaign when the film first released in 2007. While touring around festivals and college campuses, the studio said they would only give it a wide release if it received 1 million requests on Eventful.com—and it totally did. Paranormal Activity became the highest grossing to lowest budget film of all time off its cheapskate budget of $15,000.



3. Saw – Budget: $1.2 million / Box Office: $100 million

The 2004 Saw original introduced us to a more restrained version of the insane levels of gore in the later sequels. Yet, the threat of violence from Jigsaw and having to cut your own damn foot off was sufficiently traumatic. Stay tuned for Saw: Legacy in October 2017.


4. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – Budget: $300,000 / Box Office: $30 million

Before Friday the 13th and Halloween, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is noted by horror fans as the first slasher. Although it was “based on a true story” by its inspiration from the infamous Ed Gein case (see also Psycho and Silence of the Lambs), TCM is, fortunately, very fake. This OG film captured our terrified imaginations and its far campier sequels can’t do justice to this 1974 cult classic.


5. Monsters – Budget: $500,000 / Box Office: $4.2 million

Rogue One director Gareth Edwards’ 2010 feature debut dropped jaws because it really looked like it could’ve cost $50 million. The true value was Edwards’ solo attitude because he took DIY on another level: writing, directing, shooting, and doing all the effects work.


6. Friday The 13th – Budget: $500,000 / Box Office: $39 million

Most fans might be surprised to learn that the 1980 OG killer was actually Jason’s mother, Pamela Vorhees (Betsy Palmer), and that Jason doesn’t appear until the sequel. Many critics thought it was a cheap Halloween knock-off, but teenage audiences couldn’t help themselves and boosted the film in the U.S.


7. Halloween – Budget: $325,000 / Box Office: $70 million

Without John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher film, Michael Myers wouldn’t have us looking around our shoulders every October 31st. Carpenter’s ultra stylish direction definitely hides the film’s measly budget, but don’t think we didn’t spot those palm trees in what’s supposed to Illinois. Nevertheless, horror doesn’t get much better than this.