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Mastering the Art of Horror: Celebrity Film and Acting Tips Revealed

Most people think horror films are all about blood and nudity. Sure, a lot of slasher flicks have their fair share of boobs and decapitations but beyond the cliché—mastering the art of a perfect horror film involves way more than the perfect consistency of karo syrup or a hot final girl. Horror films that lurk in the dreams of audiences for decades all have one thing in common…

They create visuals that linger in the audience’s mind, long after the credits roll.

We’ve gathered real world advice from some of horror’s most memorable directors, writers, and actors to weigh in on this subject. We hope their expertise helps you get through a chopping block or two in your next project. Share this article to help fellow creators and don’t forget to let us know which tip you found most helpful in the comments below!


One of the key aspects of a successful horror movie is its ability to create a universal fear. The difficulty with making a horror film specifically is that different things will frighten different people.That brings us to our first celebrity film tip from writer/director Jordan Peele:

In a 2017 interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, Peele said:

“Every great horror movie comes from a true fear and ideally it’s a universal fear. The tricky nature of this project is that the fear I’m pulling from is very human, but it’s not necessarily a universal experience, so that’s why the first third of the movie is showing, and not in an over-the-top way, in a sort of real, grounded way, just getting everybody to be able to see the world through my protagonist’s eyes and his fears.”

EMERALD FENNELL (Promising Young Woman, Saltburn)

If you haven’t heard of the bathtub scene yet, where the hell have you been? Emerald Fennell’s films ooze a nauseating attitude through visually stunning yet absurdly memorizing scenes. Shock value? Maybe. Horrific? Probably. In a recent interview with Sundance, Emerald shared her advice for directing on set:

“Make sure there’s somebody you believe who will give you stuff that is useful because everyone will have an opinion. Trust yourself—you will survive it, you’ll make good stuff. You can make the most difficult, beautiful thing in 20 minutes if you need to, if you love each other and trust each other. That’s the most important thing for me.”

ROB ZOMBIE (House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil's Rejects, Halloween)

Since 2003 Rob Zombie’s enthralled horror fans with countless cult classics. Who better to get horror movie making advice from than the master of horror himself? In 2019, Rob Zombie shared 10 things he’s learned as a filmmaker with

  1. “You’re not going to be better in a scene if you are trying to make someone else in it worse.”

  2. “If you don’t click with your actors, it can lead to a disaster that slows down your crew and the whole production entirely.”

  3.  “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

  4. “You have to stay on top of everything at all times. Even if you have an extra 20 days or an extra $10 million to shoot a movie.”

  5. “Shoot every conceivable angle of your location until there’s nowhere else to shoot and you max out every inch of the space. Get the most bang for your buck.”

  6. “I don’t mind if somebody has an opinion. Not everything I think or say is perfect. It’s just that you can’t have a lunatic be the person who’s giving you the note.”

  7. “When you pick on someone in a test screening and ask, what do you think? that person usually won’t have the film language to articulate your movie’s problems. You might as well ask your dog to tell you how to fix the edit.”

  8. “What you can get out of a test screening is an opportunity to sit with an audience and feel the room. If something in your film is supposed to be funny and no one laughs, it’s probably not funny.”

  9. “John Carpenter told me, you know what directing is? Getting that army over that mountain before the sun goes down.” It means you’ve just got to fucking get it done before the sun sets.”

  10.  “My editor, Bob Lambert’s advice to me was, whatever you do, finish the movie. Because if you don’t and it sits on a shelf, you will never finish it. It’ll sit there for the rest of your life. That was the best thing anyone ever told me.”

DANAI GURIRA (The Walking Dead, Black Panther)

If you’re a brain eating kinda zombie fan, odds are you’ve heard of or at least seen The Walking Dead. There’s one character on this show we can’t get enough of—the katana wielding zombie slayer known as Michonne—portrayed by Danai Gurira. In 2013 Gurira offered some advice with, check out her survival tips for actors:

“Be sure this is what you really want to do. There are a lot of people who are starting out [basing it] on things other than really loving the craft. If you don't love the craft, you're probably in it for the wrong reason. And there are a lot of folks like that. So be sure this is what you really want to do.”

JODIE FOSTER (Silence Of The Lambs, Panic Room)

Let’s take a moment of silence for Mother Foster. Who doesn’t find that voice comforting. Just us? Jodie sat down with in 2021 to share how she prepares on set as an actress to create the perfect horror film. Check it out:

“Use body language. Hone your skills delivering dialogue but be sure to incorporate gestures, facial expressions, and vocal choices to convey a character.”

Which tip was your favorite? Don’t forget to let us know which tip you found most helpful in the comments below!

Until next time, 

Deranged Minds



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