Tag Archives: Halloween

8 Small Budget Movies That Had Mainstream Success

7 Small Budget Movies That Had Mainstream Success

Hollywood’s formula for making big bucks in the business is to pump lots of money into the flick from the start (look at Marvel’s superhero flicks). While it works quite often, there’s always those great small budget films that we love that make it past the gatekeepers and go on to be huge moneymaking hits even without the financial backing of a small country’s GDP.

From comedies to horrors, here are eight small budget stories that hit the theaters and turned into multimillion successes.

Napoleon Dynamite

Also known as the indie film with the most quotable script of all time, Napoleon Dynamite popped into the public consciousness and never really made it out. Starting with a budget of $400,000 and making $46 million worldwide, Pedro, the liger and chapped lips jumped from the screen and into our lives. So did Jon Heder in his first big role. This strange and hilarious flick may never win big movie accolades, but it’s humor hit the right chords with the audience and it will forever go down in movie history.



The tale of an unmarried pregnant girl in high school was one of the biggest hut is all time. Proving to be a breakout role for stellar actress Ellen Page and containing equally stellar performances by Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Allison Janney and J.K. Simmons, this movie made a big splash with critics. Starting with a $7.5 million budget and hitting $231 million at the box office, the film was clever, sarcastic and had an interesting perspective for a story that definitely isn’t a new one Yet that’s part of the beauty of it!

Mad Max

Very few movies garnered as much buzz as Mel Gibson’s Mad Max as the dystopian movie blew anticipated earnings out of the water when it was first made. Starting with $300,000 and amassing over $99 million, the lead actor’s portrayal and the great direction put the film in the record books as the largest profit to cost production for 20 years. It wasn’t until the Blair Witch Project came along that the king was dislodged from its pedestal. Its success led to many different incarnations and a beloved modern reboot in 2015.

Little Miss Sunshine

When Abigail Breslin’s charming character is aiming to get into a beauty pageant, the entire family chips in. Audiences couldn’t get enough of it. From the quirky soundtrack to the cross-country road trip storyline, it’s a funny film with a great set of actors who really get the authenticity of the story. It ultimately made $100 million worldwide when it only took $8 million to make. In Sunshine’s case, the secret to success was a bespectacled girl, a VW bus and plenty of family love.


Slumdog Millionaire

The breakout winner of 2008 was Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle’s story of a teen growing up in the slums of India who lands himself in the hot seat of a version of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” After getting accused of cheating on the game show, our lead goes down memory lane to show how life and circumstance has led him to know the correct answer for every question the game brings him. Creative, festive and containing an excellent soundtrack, this tale of triumph and love was made for $15 million and brought in $377 million, meaning they might want to rename the film Slumdog Multi-Millionaire. It’s currently streaming on American Netflix for viewers to get a second chance to watch this amazing film.


Scary movies have it good when it comes to return on investment. Halloween isn’t the last (or only) inexpensive horror flick to find success, but it was one of the first. From a mere $325,000, the box office sales went above and beyond $45 million and cemented Mike Meyers in the public consciousness for years still to come. Jumpstarting a genre and simultaneously scaring us to death, this flick is one great example that great storytelling doesn’t have to include all the fancy price tags.

Greek wedding

My Big Fat Greek Wedding

When Tom Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson saw a hilariously funny Greek play by Nia Vardalos and conscripted her husband into making a movie version, a new round of romantic comedy success hit the decade. From word of mouth and email blasts, the tiny play turned small movie was made for $5 million and led to over $368 million in sales worldwide. For a girl (Vardalos) who hung up on Tom Hanks on first call because she didn’t believe it was really him, the film’s clever characterization and ready jokes made it a crowd favorite.

The Blair Witch Project

How do you turn $60,000 into 248.6 million? Easy. Give three college kids cameras, throw them in the woods for the weekend, and proceed to scare the crap outta them. Then create viral marketing by uploading a fake website detailing the strange and mysterious disappearance of said college kids and BAM. Not only have you made a pile of money, but also a pop culture phenomenon, and popularized a genre of found footage horror that’s still going strong  17 years later.

Such is the legacy of the Blair Witch Project. The film became more than an indie darling, it rewrote the book on how studios  can make and market horror movies to a new internet generation. So popular was the Blair Witch Project that it spawned a sequel and a trilogy of video games along with a recently announced reboot/sequel, simply titled, Blair Witch due to release in 2016. Not bad for $60 grand.

Great films don’t always have to come with big budgets. If the digital age has shown us one thing, it’s that what the audience sometimes loves what it doesn’t know it wants. Have any films on your radar that cost next to nothing but made big profits? Have you seen any of the films listed above?

Share in the comments below!

10 Throwback Scary Movies To Put You In A Halloween Mood

10 Best Throwback Scary Movies for Halloween

Halloween is only a few weeks away and the looming date of that holiday has set me thinking about pictures that can get one in the proper spirit for the occasion. When you mention the word Halloween invariably horror movies come to mind. Now, there is no doubt that films like Nightmare on Elm Street, Paranormal Activity, I Know What You Did Last Summer and of course John Capenter’s classic that shares the holiday’s name have “Halloween” written all over them. But, there are other movies from years past that I think can be considered to be appropriate fare. So, what follows are my picks for the best scary movies to watch before and on Halloween.


1. Misery

Though it’s set in Colorado in the dead of Winter, this movie  is well- suited for Halloween. The story of famed romance novel writer Paul Sheldon, (James Caan) being trapped in the home of Annie Wilkes (Kathy Bates)- his psychotic number one fan- has all the makings of a great film to see on all hallows eve. In my humble opinion, the most exciting and worthy aspect is that the way Bates portrays Wilkes is so chilling it will send shivers down your spine and demonstrates that her fear inducing chops were well in place long before (God help you, if you cross her and she starts calling you a “dirty bird,” or if you try to escape from her home your legs will get a good “hobbling.”) American Horror story. Moreover, it’s Filled with constant suspense and humor along with fabulous direction by Rob Reiner, riveting performances and great writing. Finally, being adapted from a novel by the master of horror, Stephen King, certainly doesn’t diminish it. Therefore, you can’t’ get any better than Misery when looking for something to put you in a Halloween mood.

Favorite Horror Movie Girls (Infographic)

Favorite Horror Movie Girls

Horror movie girls. Scream Queens. Damsels in distress.

Horror movies just wouldn’t be the same if your psycho ax wielding killer kept ruthlessly pursuing boys. Horror movie girls are a genre staple and ultimately the villain’s Achilles heel. Killing the school jock? Easy. Disposing of law enforcement? No problem. But killing that final horror movie girl is always an almost impossible task as those pesky girls always seem to find a way to escape or turn the tables on the killer at the last moment.

Take a look at our favorite horror movie girls who got away. An awesome infographic, courtesy of HalloweenCostumes.com

Is your favorite scream queen missing from the list? Then feel free to add her in the comments below!


Ten Scariest Horror Movies Of All Time

exorcist regan

Ten Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

I hate horror movies.

It goes without saying around my house that horror movies are among my least favorite types of films. Truth be told, I’d rather watch a musical or historical period piece than a horror movie most days. The reason is simple. Most “horror” films tend to be anything but. Cliched? Of course. Silly? In abundance. Gruesome? I guess. Scary? No.

Take a look at these recent Hollywood horror films and tell me if you notice a pattern. Insidious Chapter 3, Poltergeist, The Lazarus Effect, and Before I Wake. They are all rated PG-13.


How I ask, can you claim to be a true horror movie when you openly admit you’re film is targeted toward the middle school crowd? Are you a horror film or the Hunger Games?

But for some true horror movie win make sure to check out all the films on the list that follows. These films are, without a doubt, the scariest movies of all time. The scary movies that always make you feel uneasy after watching and stay with you while you sleep. The ones guys will want to watch on a first date. The films that still remember a good scare comes from the physiological instead of gratuitous gore.


Oh, and they’re all rated R. ….. Well kinda. You’ll see.

CharacterNation: Michael Myers


Who? Michael Myers is the original psycho killer, Norman Bates aside, who brought slasher/horror films to the mainstream in 1978’s Halloween and has been killing teenagers onscreen ever since. As a teenager in the 90’s Michael Myers and the Halloween movies were always favorites of me and my friends. We’d all get together and have sleepovers at my buddy’s house and the highlight of the night was renting out horror movies from the local Blockbuster. It was always a hoot to see the imaginative ways people could die and we were always guaranteed to see some boob in the mandatory sex scenes, the draw of which cannot be understated to a 14 year old.

The Halloween movies were always our favorites although the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies starring Freddy and Jason seemed to be more popular at the time. Freddy had the burnt face, funny jokes, and those cool as hell claws while Jason made hockey masks iconic and scary. They were monsters and monsters are cool I guess. But Micheal Myers is just a man. There was no supernatural appeal to him and was always treated as a second rate character.  Most people my age didn’t even know who Michael Myers was. Michael Myers who? He didn’t really have any powers, his costume was bland compared to Freddy and Jason. And his weapon of choice was a kitchen knife???


But that’s what made MMichael Myers so cool. He didn’t need a stupid sweater or super powers to be scary. He was just a regular dude who was good at killing. Really, really good at killing.

Where? Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981) Halloween 4: The Return of Micheal Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Micheal Myers (1989), Halloween: The Curse of Micheal Myers (1995), Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later (1998) Halloween: Resurrection (2002) Halloween (2007), Halloween II (2009)

What? Michael Myers was always seen as a disturbed little boy but took things to another level when he murdered his teenage sister Judith on Halloween in 1963. Taken up and locked away for the next 15 years he manages to escape and returns home on Halloween to stalk a young babysitter named Laurie, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in her first role, and her friends. Hot in pursuit of Michael is his long time psychiatrist Dr. Loomis, oh the conversations they must have had together. Laurie ends up babysitting with her promiscuous friends but Michael shows up and shows them the true meaning of unsafe sex. Laurie eventually discovers her dead friends and that Micheal has saved her for last. She runs and hides back in her house as the “boogeyman” purses her. But Laurie proves to be a survivor as she fights back, stabbing Michael in the neck with a sewing needle and then in the eye with a coat hanger! Michael shows a remarkable resistance to pain as he quickly recovers and keeps coming after her. With Laurie moments from death Dr. Loomis shows up in the nick of time and blasts Michael away with his hand cannon over the second story balcony to his death. But when he goes back to check his handiwork, Michael is gone.


Halloween II picks up right after Halloween as Laurie is brought to the hospital for her injuries and Dr. Loomis continues his pursuit of his insane mask wearing patient. Michael tracks Laurie to the hospital and begins killing the staff. In what has to be my most favorite movie death ever Michael walks up to nurse freshening up on the side of the therapy hot tub after screwing her boyfriend in it and puts his hands on her shoulder. Mistaking Michael’s big strong hands for her boyfriend’s scrawny ones she begins seductively biting and playing with them until Michael plunges her face into the increasingly scalding hot tub, simultaneously drowning and burning her to death.  That’s what made Michael Myers so bad ass. He worked with the tools he was given. Soon Dr. Loomis discovers why Michael has such an infatuation for Laurie. She is is his younger sister and on top of that he may have been born under an occult ceremony which explains his nigh unkillabilty. Loomis arrives at the hospital in time to save Laurie, but too late to save others on the hospital staff as Micheal has been very busy. Michael chases them stabbing Loomis while “Annie Oakley” Laurie goes all Red Ryder and shoot both of Michael’s eyes out! Still Micheal comes after them so they retreat to an operating room which Loomis fills with gas giving Laurie a chance to escape before he ignites it burning both him and Michael to death.

But you can’t keep a profitable franchise down and Michael Myers would come back in Halloween 4, after a forgettable pumpkin faced monster became the focus of Halloween 3, with each new movie seemingly retconning the previous one before it.

How? Originally referred to as “The Shape” (I like that name!) by the creators of Halloween I and II, Myers was written to be the embodiment of pure evil. Something that cannot be killed or understood, it just is. The first Halloween movie was made for the bargain price of $300,000 by John Carpenter but made over 70 million at the box office. For a long time Halloween was the most successful independent movie ever made with a 11,000% return on it’s budget. However, because the budget was low the film crew had to skimp when they could to save money. As most people know the mask he wears was just a Captain Kirk mask found at the store and painted white. I could never see Kirk’s face in the mask but hey, it was 1978, everything was cheap junk back then.

Why? Michael Myers is awesome! He’s just this big hulking brute of a man, who keeps coming at you. Again and again and again. Pure evil. He never talks, never makes a sound which makes the blank stare on his expressionless white mask all the more terrifying. (He’s smart enough to know if he did talk it would all come out as mumbles). And without question he has the most terrifying theme music of any character in film. Those simple alternating piano notes keep coming at you as relentlessly as Michael Myers himself. They put you on alert, it almost sounds like an alarm, which only increases the tension in the movie and puts you on the edge of your seat. The theme song was one of the first songs my best friend taught himself to play on his old Casio keyboard. Even then it was always disturbing to hear.


As I mentioned earlier Michael Myers was just that goofy guy in the white mask to many of my friends, but time has made him arguably one of the most popular movie villains around 36 years later. His movies have been remade by Rob Zombie in two recent reboots that explored a lot more of his early childhood. Young Michael had a disturbing tendency to kill animals and create paper mache masks now. And  he was even a playable character in the latest Call of Duty game, Ghosts so you can run around and stab your friends to death. Michael Myers is scary because he is just a man and his films are therefore more grounded. They are more believable. More based in reality. He’s just a guy, with a knife. And he will kill you.

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