1980s horror movie poster logos and typography.

Lettering and typography from the pre-Trajan era

Mother's day 1980 movie poster title lettering

MOTHER’S DAY (1980)

The Fog 1980 movie poster title

THE FOG (1980)

The Changeling 1980 movie poster title lettering

THE CHANGELING (1980)

Maniac 1980 movie poster title lettering

MANIAC (1980)

The shining 1980 movie poster logo

THE SHINING (1980)
Inverted in order to keep things consistent. Here’s the original The Shining movie poster, designed by Saul Bass

Death ship 1980 movie poster title lettering

DEATH SHIP (1980)

Prom night 1980 movie poster title typography

PROM NIGHT (1980)

Friday the 13th 1980 movie poster logo

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

He knows you're alone 1980 movie poster title lettering

HE KNOWS YOU’RE ALONE (1980)

The howling 1981 movie poster lettering

THE HOWLING (1981)

The evil dead 1981 movie poster logo

THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

The nesting 1981 movie poster lettering

THE NESTING (1981)

Wolfen 1981 movie poster lettering

WOLFEN (1981)

An American werewolf in London 1981 movie poster logo

AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981)

The fury of the succubus 1982 movie poster lettering

THE FURY OF THE SUCCUBUS (1982)

Basket case 1982 movie poster logo

BASKET CASE (1982)

Frightmare 1983 movie poster logo

FRIGHTMARE (1983)

The house on Sorority Row 1983 movie poster typography

THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW (1983)

The hunger 1983 movie poster lettering

THE HUNGER (1983)

Frightmare 1983 movie poster lettering

FRIGHTMARE (1983)

House by the cemetery 1984 movie poster lettering

HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY (1984)

Nightmare on Elm Street 1984 movie poster lettering

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)
This is not from a poster; it’s the on-screen title of the movie. Designed by Dan Perri.

Night train to terror 1985 movie poster typography

NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985)

Phenomena 1985 movie poster logo

PHENOMENA (1985)

Texas chainsaw massacre part 2 1986 movie poster typography

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, PART 2 (1986)

Trick or treat 1986 movie poster lettering

TRICK OR TREAT (1986)

Chopping Mall movie poster logo

CHOPPING MALL (1986)

Berserker 1987 movie poster lettering

BERSERKER (1987)

Evil Dead 2 1987 movie poster logo

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)

Return of the living dead part 2 1988 movie poster typography

RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1988)

1980s horror movie poster logos and typography.

It amazes me how few movies have an identity. While millions of dollars are spent on the marketing campaign of Hollywood movies, their logos or wordmarks are usually much cheaper: $35 (the price of the Trajan ‘movie font.’ on MyFonts.com).

Logos/wordmarks like you see above are gradually becoming extinct. They’re being replaced by Trajan, which has become the go-to font for horror movie posters. As a result, very few movie identities stand out from the crowd. Typography is hardly ever used anymore to express the theme or atmosphere of a movie (exceptions being Saw (2004) or House of the devil (2009) ).

If your movie is frightening, disgusting or gory, why not communicate that with moviegoers? That’s what they did during the 1980s. As a result every movie or franchise had it’s own unique identity. All the poster designers needed was a pen and ink. That’s even cheaper than $35!

  1. Monique says:

    Nice selection of custom text titles but hiring or contracting a designer and art directing the logo until it’s satisfactory is a helluva lot more than $35.

  2. rob says:

    @monique i was going to say the same thing! these old logotypes rule.

    i wish movies cared as much about branding as they used to.

  3. Dave Dunbar says:

    We are editing together a short horror film at the moment and one of the things I have been doing in my downtime is sitting with pen and paper, designing the title text because it was always the first thing that grabbed me as a young horror fan. It really gave the films an unique identity. There’s also something exciting about seeing your films title written in it’s own distinctive style. Once you find it, no free or bought typeface on a computer will ever come close.

  4. kr says:

    Very nice post. I touch upon something like this in talking about Grindhouse and the type treatments created by Kurt Volk for the fake movie trailers.

    http://whyfrakture.com/blog/2010/09/grindhouse/

  5. del says:

    I used comic sans on my horror movie “Brainsuckers”. The film tanked.