A Countdown of the Most Unforgettable Special Effects in Horror Movies

November 29, 2023

Written by Ella Rebecca Horton

Ella Rebecca has been in love with the horror genre since an early age. The Bride of Frankenstein began her love of the classics and she's been writing and collecting since.


Special effects play a crucial role in making horror movies as compelling as possible. They can make something appear something they are not, and in the case of this particular genre, make things terrifying or disturbing.
Artists who work in a film sets visual and special effects departments have a tireless job, often involving long hours and little thanks outside of the production studio.

Those who apply special effects to the actors directly need to be gifted artistically, while those who use software to generate effects will need to be equally talented technically. Nonetheless, it requires a team of talented people to come together to be able to reach the outcome that is desired. Horror-themed films can present numerous challenges. Still, they can provide various opportunities, too. They can allow users of special effects to do the
unexpected and things not done before, as their main aim is to scare and disturb their audiences. While viewers will know things are not real, they will still find it difficult not to be left feeling scared when they see certain things.
What are some of the most unforgettable special effects used?

Unsurprisingly, numerous horror films have been able to create memorable moments through the use of special effects. They have left a chilling impact on those who have watched them, with many being remembered as key points of the film and why they were enjoyed so much.

“The Exorcist” is perhaps one of the most memorable in terms of the SFX that was used, with the makeup used to turn Regan into the possessed child that she becomes because of the malevolent demon. The transformation that she underwent was revolutionary at the time and is still remembered today as being one of the scariest to have ever been seen on the big screen. “Train To Busan” is a South Korean horror tale that has managed to use numerous SFX to create a memorable viewing experience. The film’s plot centers around the fact that passengers become stuck on a high-speed bullet train and become infected by the viral outbreak that is being experienced. As a result, they each become zombies, with makeup and after-effects helping to create a compelling and lifelike look. Their looks enhance the suspense and terror that can be felt throughout the entire film.

Pan’s Labyrinth” is another film that has become memorable because of the special effects that are used in this horror movie. While the film’s director decided to use a variety of different SFX techniques to create this movie, they managed to create The Pale Man, an individual who is scary enough to haunt anybody’s nightmares. He is a child-eating monster that has eyes in the palms of his hands -enough said! You cannot talk about a horror film with memorable SFX without talking about “Alien.” Ridley Scott’s epic scared the cast just as much as the audience, as everyone was caught off-guard by the explosion that was witnessed by John Hurt’s chest. It became memorable as it was truly horrific to look at, and it promised that the rest of the film would be as unpredictable as it was. It truly left everyone who watched it as shocked as the main cast were. Arguably one of the best horror films to have ever been created, “The Ring” is one that has become iconic because of the SFX that has been used throughout it.

Everyone remembers the scene involving the static on the TV and the phone ringing, with the girl providing terror at its highest. Samara is a demonic ghost whose presence is terrifying. When she leaves the TV and starts her unique crawl, her gruesome appearance becomes all the more scary as her movements become unpredictable.

SFX are truly important

While the story of a horror-themed film might be considered to be the most vital aspect of the movie, there is no denying that the SFX can be argued to be just as equally important. The effects that are used can often be more memorable than the actual story itself, with many of them living in the minds of those who watch the films created. They are what make the footage and scenes provided scary and why so many continue to tune in and watch them when new titles are released, or they fancy watching a classic.

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