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Trailer Park Party: In honor of Halloween, we celebrate 11 of the most memorable, entertaining and effective horror movie trailers over the years.

Much like you, I love Halloween. Let’s celebrate the month of October together. Stop on by. I’m passing out trailers this year!

1. The Initiation (1984)

Horror trailers back in the day were a blast to watch, sometimes even taking liberties with the plot to try and reel us in. The voice-over actors were usually great too—which you will soon see from the many examples below. First up, the soap-opera-slasher classic (classic for me any way), The Initiation. And speaking of liberties, is that the Children of the Corn music I hear in there?

2. Psycho Beach Party (2000)

Throwback trailers can often seem desperate. They can also be very hard to pull off. Sometimes just adding grain and some scratches to the digital footage isn’t going to cut it; you have to capture the spirit of the era, and the next trailer on our list nailed this. Taking the fun of Beach Movies and adding the slasher element, Psycho Beach Party seems like a slept on film that is still waiting to get discovered. It is extra-bubbly and a lot fun. And be sure to look for a young Amy Adams doing the vixen thing!

3. The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick had to lie in order to get this next trailer approved. The story goes, he told the MPAA that the blood rushing down the hall was actually rust from the hotel…and they bought it. I guess some people will believe just about anything. Simplistic, slow, and down-right eerie with its accompanying music, the trailer for The Shining can show just how much can be done with so little. The image is forever burned into my brain from childhood and still tends to make me queasy.

4. Terror in the Aisles (1984)

Terror in the Aisles was basically a celebration for all things horror at the time, along with some classic material thrown in for good measure, including vigilante flicks. There hasn’t been another documentary quiet like it since its conception. Narrated by Nancy Allen and Donald Pleasence throughout, we basically kick back in a crowded movie theater with them and enjoy some highlights by the works of some of the masters, including Alfred Hitchcock, Brian DePalma, and John Carpenter. Hands down, my favorite horror documentary that I continuously throw in every Halloween.

5. Nightmares (1983)

I’m a big fan of anthology films. They go down nice and easy, and if you didn’t like one of the stories in it, well, there’s a few more in there that you will probably dig to some degree. Nightmares was a film much like that. But this isn’t a list on the films themselves, but rather the trailers, and Nightmares had a doozy. Extra deep voice-over, images of craziness, including a young Emilio Esteves running away from an 8-bit generated alien ship or something to that effect. A great way to spend a minute and forty seconds of your life.

6. Jaws 3D (1983)

They didn’t want to crush our expectations, I suppose. Maybe that’s why they didn’t show us any footage in the trailer. God bless the teaser trailer, right? But here, the simplicity works to cover up a flawed movie, and it got our butts in the seats. Yes, the 3D for the film was a gimmick, but so was the movie itself. Besides, the guy doing the voice-over could make anything sound scary and sell it.

7. I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

Before there was Kill Bill, there was I Spit On Your Grave. Better than the movie itself, the original trailer for I Spit On Your Grave is as grind-house as you can get. From the extended storytelling by that awesome voice-over actor to the constant flash of the title card to remind us of the movie’s title, it’s almost so great that it’s comical. If that makes any sense. Regardless, revenge movies don’t get much rougher than this.

8. Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Call me biased, but I’m a pretty big fan of the Sleepaway Camp series, and this trailer nailed all the reasons why. With its 80s feel and low-budget production, it’s great, from start to finish.

9. Curtains (1983)

Out of all of the slasher trailers that I watched for this list, none stood out as “slasher” as this one. There are greats like Happy Birthday to Me that can stand next to it—but this one will just end up knocking them down flat. Quick flashes of blades, cuts, kills, and one hell of an ugly killer, this trailer makes me want to watch the movie with the lights off, which I just might do tonight.

10. Alien (1979)

Alien comes off as some kind of gothic, sci-fi horror flick set in space, and the movie hasn’t aged a second since the day it was released. Its trailer is relentless in its build and sells the movie perfectly without giving away too much, as you will soon see. Seeing this back in the day in a dark movie theater must have been a real treat. There isn’t a word of dialogue spoken and the audience is left clueless to who our main character is going to be. It’s as close to perfect as a movie can get to pitching it’s own concept. A+

11. The Pit (1981)

Remember how we discussed in the beginning of this list how a throwback trailer can be difficult? The Pit attempted this for its own re-release, and it turned out even better than the original. I will admit, it gives away a little too much about the film, but that’s what makes it so great, even if it is all just one great big spoiler.

There is no confusion here that this kid is a pervert, talks to his teddy bear, and has serious social problems. It’s also clear how this little monster dispatches of his victims. A knife is too easy for the brilliance of this film. This young chap feeds his enemies to cavemen! At least I think they’re cavemen. The name starts with a “T.” Trolologs maybe.


Thanks for taking the time to watch some trailers. Hopefully, you’re still in the mood for one more, as I’ve included the trailer for my fist book  Switchblade: A Killer Comedy below. I hope you enjoy it. It’s very throwback and desperate like I mentioned above. Guilty as charged. Why can’t I just let the past go? Happy Halloween everyone!

Brad McCormick, author of Switchblade: A Killer Comedy and writer for Morbidly Beautiful and VHS Revival.

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