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Four Halloween Horror Effects You Can Achieve With Stock Footage

Four Halloween Horror Effects You Can Achieve With Stock Footage

It's time to give your viewers a Halloween fright. Check out scary effects you can create with stock.

It’s that time of year again. The fog is setting in, the ghouls are out to play, and horror movies are on everyone's TVs. Horror has always been one of the most indie-friendly genres and there’s a reason for that. The stories are simple, the effects are fun to pull off, and the cult-fanbase has an appreciation for even the campiest of films. 

As VFX has become more accessible, this has gained even more steam. Though I love mixing up some corn syrup and red food coloring just as much as the next guy, digital effects have truly enhanced the way horror is made, even giving new avenues of telling stories. An example is Paranormal Activity’s minimal house terror narrative. 

The following effects will get you a solid start down this path and are sure to ignite some inspiration for your next bone-chilling short. What’s more? They’re all achievable with easy to use and affordable stock assets.

1. Blood, blood, and more blood. 

Blood pool flowing from a dead body
Of course, where else would we start. Blood and gore has been at the center of the horror genre since its inception, and when it comes to considering stock assets, this is no different.

The key here is enhancement. You want the digital effects to enhance what you already have going on in your production, whether that’s camera tricks, makeup, or other practical effects.  

Once you have that base layer, see what stock assets can elevate the shot. Blood hits, splatters, explosions, and more can be a great way to either add some punch to a scene or push it to full slasher film absurdity. We take this to a whole new level with mists, fabrics, and even severed limbs. Shooting Aliens in your short instead? Just shift it green. Ridley Scott fan making an AI thriller? Go for white. 

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2. Setting the Atmosphere

Woman walking through dense fog in a creepy forest
Atmosphere is at the foundation of horror filmmaking. The where, when, and what really sets the tone.

There are many expectations to manage here as well: foggy mansions, the woods at night, abandoned buildings. When you go against the grain here it can have a great effect, too. Consider the sunny lush scenes in the film Midsommar as an example. 

Stock footage is an incredible place to start here. Put yourself in the scene and ask what senses are being engaged. Is there a certain smell? Pestilence in the air? What’s the weather like at the time? Stock footage can tip off all of these senses through a visual medium. 

This is where you really get to layer your cake as a compositor, as well. Adding smoke layers, fog, clouds, and a depth of detail can really pull the viewer in. 

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3. Burn it all Down

Woman laying in a barn that is on fire
I could go on about the origins, religious implications, ancient imagery and more, but the fact is that fire is scary and every once in a while you’ve got a demon or other scary creature burning things down. 

This is a prime example of a huge benefit to using stock footage: safety. Though pyrotechnics are an incredible group of individuals, I don’t know where I would begin if I wanted to burn my apartment to the ground using practical effects. 

The real key here is finding creative uses and building fires are just the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes the answers start small, too. A quick burst of flame in the middle of a dark seance is a perfect way to make your audience jump and get some blood flowing in the scene. Using fire as a light source is another strong option—there’s something especially eerie about a face lit by just a torch. 

See above for the note on blood and apply it here too: green fire, blue fire, purple fire, etc. These all have a place in your horror short. 

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4. Electric Failure

Man in an abandoned building looking at an electrical malfunction
It might just be me, but I think tech-based horror baddies are underutilized. With an entire world that revolves around technology, one of the scariest things imaginable is its absence. No power, no lights, and no phones to call for help. 

There’s an isolation that’s queued by a quick spark or a fried wire. These details are well within reach using stock footage. 

In general, damage to the house or area you have as your setting is something achievable through stock footage that can have amazing effects in a horror short. There’s something chilling about that slow ramp-up of poltergeist power as they cause more and more havoc on the world around them. 

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These are just some thought starters and there’s plenty more to be achieved through clever use of stock footage. Take a look at our library and get inspired. We’d love to see what you come up with! 

From Fire and massive Explosions to Blood and Gore VFX, we have the largest VFX library in the world ready to be composited in your project. Check out over 3,400 VFX stock footage elements right here.

We've also launched our new initiative: CreatorVault.com. CreatorVault creates the best curated collections of video editing assets for video creators. Quickly find the perfect lens flares, animated mattes, transitions, glitches, and more. Shop CreatorVault now.

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