December 11, 2017 5:35 pm

Horror has long since been a genre that has reached far beyond cinema. From the obvious parallels in television to music videos, ads and games, the nature of horror has enraptured audiences for generations, bleeding into the most mainstream industries with huge success.

There is no surprise here, either. Horror fans all over the world know all too well the emotions a well-made film or classic title can stir up and the iconic nature of so many of those titles lends them to huge cross-industry appeal.

Video games

The gaming industry is one that has welcomed horror as a theme for as long as it has existed. Sweet Home, a Family Computer survival horror game produced by Capcom in 1989 is thought to be the first example of the genre. It later made the transition to the NES, and copies of the cartridge are very popular on auction sites like eBay. Based on the Japanese horror film of the same name, it has served as an inspiration for a number of titles, most notably the 78 million unit-selling Resident Evil series, which of course later made the transition into cinema. It’s not just in console gaming that horror has made its mark, either. Hippodrome Online’s slot game Lost Vegas is a zombie-inspired five reel game that sits alongside Monster Wheels as one of the most popular horror-themed slot games on the market. Horror themes seem to be a staple across video game genres. Arcade games have also been reliant on horror themes for generations, with ’80s titles like Exidy’s Chiller and Namco’s Splatterhouse paving the way for dozens of popular horror arcade favourites. These often spill over into console gaming, too. The Sega-produced House Of The Dead series was a hit in arcades and later on the likes of PlayStation and the Nintendo Wii as well as handheld platforms such as Gameboy and various mobile phone titles.


The themes in popular music are wide and varied, of course, and horror is no exception. Musicians have used horror themes in music for many years and have achieved great success along the way, inspiring many an ill-conceived Halloween playlist. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is the first title that springs to mind, of course. Paving the way for the MTV revolution in music, the epic 1983 music video has been viewed over 467 million times on YouTube and was instrumental in the album of the same name selling 33 million units and becoming the highest-selling album of all time. Bea Landers’ Back Into The Dark is another of the most obvious example of horror in a music video. The horror crossover is most common among the heavy metal and rock genres due to their overlapping themes, as well as niche genres like witch house and psychobilly. The Cure’s 1989 hit Lullaby spent eight weeks in the Billboard chart, earning rave reviews for its fright-inspired music video and grabbing a Brit Award for Best British Video along the way. And it doesn’t stop there, either. Modern music videos have been quick to tap into horror themes, including 2011 Skrillex hit First Of The Year (Equinox), Chris Brown’s 2007 release Wall To Wall and Fever Ray’s 2009 cult classic If I Had A Heart. The scariest video has to be Aphex Twin’s terrifying Come To Daddy, however. Released in 1997 and depicting troubling images of little people terrorising a one-horse town, the accompanying sound of the artist’s signature use of feedback is hugely unsettling and in spite of its relatively cult status has contributed to almost three million YouTube views.


One less obvious industry tapping into horror themes is that of the marketing industry. Many of the most iconic and successful adverts have been steeped in scares, some in the form of traditional television adverts and some more modern, social media-savvy ads. LG’s innovative “So Real It’s Scary” ad (below) was a viral smash hit and has achieved nearly 43 million YouTube views, while the Nike “Chainsaw” ad, released in the build-up to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, was so frightening it caused quite a stir, as reported by CBS News. Of course, these advertisements are most common around Halloween. Snickers’ 2010 “Halloween Grocery Store Lady” commercial was produced by advertising agency BDDO New York and earned rave reviews across America. This choice is no surprise for a chocolate brand that chooses to place heavy focus on Halloween, with themed products such as the Snickers Halloween Pumpkin Singles.

A partnership between Fox and Mars in the build-up to Halloween 2017 lead to the release of a quartet of super-short horror films, branded as “Bite Size Horror”. Each two-minute film supports one of Mars’ most well-known products and the Skittles output, namely “Floor 9.5”, was by far the most engaged-with and achieved huge numbers across social media.

What is for sure is that horror films will continue to influence entertainment beyond the silver screen. Be it in the case of advertisements, music, gaming or elsewhere, the horror genre will continue to thrive.


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This post was written by Nadia Vella