It’s the little things in life that make me happy.
Every movie begins with a small handful of company logos, and most of those production/distribution companies have logos that are by now instantly recognizable to most anyone who spends a decent amount of time watching films. The logos for Paramount, 20th Century Fox, and Universal probably just flashed in your head the very moment your eyes scanned past this sentence, and us horror fans are as familiar with the logos for companies like Lionsgate and Blumhouse.
But not every movie plays by the rules.
Some movies, often in the hopes of immediately setting a tone, play around with their studio logos in a way that makes them totally unique to those movies, and it’s those movies that I personally have a whole lot of respect for. There’s something about seeing an iconic logo get tinkered with that always makes me smile, and a handful of horror films have done it over the years.
Here are 9 of them that come to mind!
1) THE RING (2002)
Gore Verbinski’s 2002 version of The Ring is one of the best horror remakes ever made, and it won me over almost immediately with a modified DreamWorks logo that evoked the feeling of watching an old VHS tape. The ominous opening logo sequence featured distortions and those familiar tracking lines, and if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the iconic “ring” appears just before the moon turns into the “D” in DreamWorks. As we spotted in the official trailer, it looks like next year’s Rings will feature a similar custom logo, this time courtesy of Paramount.
Before bringing a terrifying shark to the screen in The Shallows, Jaume Collet-Serra shocked audiences with a creepy little girl who wasn’t quite a little girl. The 2009 film Orphan ended with one hell of a twist, and it began with a nice little bit of foreshadowing. The Warner Bros. logo that begins Orphan is splattered with glowing paint, which later pops up as a crucial plot element in the film. As it turns out, Esther has been painting violent and sexual images on her bedroom walls that can only be seen under a black light, and the clever logo teased what was to come.
3) GREMLINS 2
No film has ever changed its studio logo more than Gremlins 2, which featured a brand spankin’ new “Looney Tunes” animation from the legendary Chuck Jones. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck (both voiced by Jeff Bergman) appeared in the fun animated sequence, which led into the Gremlins 2 logo and an establishing shot of New York City. Director Joe Dante has said that he commissioned the highly unique opening to “set the anarchic tone,” and a longer version of the Warner Bros. cartoon short can be found on the film’s DVD and Blu-ray releases.
4) THE GRUDGE 2 (2006)
You may not remember much about the 2006 American film The Grudge 2, but if you’ve seen it, you probably do at least remember the way it cleverly played around with that iconic Columbia Pictures logo. The opening sequence starts off normal enough, but then the woman holding the torch grows long hair and literally transforms into franchise villain Kayako. The logo then glitches and the text “Columbia” briefly turns into “Grudge 2.” Props to whoever came up with that!
5) THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS
One year prior to Rosemary’s Baby, Roman Polanski released horror-comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers, which took the liberty of turning the MGM lion into a vampire. Just as the lion roars, it transforms into a cartoony vampire, and a droplet of blood falls out of its mouth and drips down across the hand-drawn opening credits – the blood eventually becomes a flying bat.
6) JURASSIC PARK 3
We wouldn’t exactly classify the Jurassic Park films as horror movies, but this bit of clever logo manipulation was just too cool to not share – besides, we feel that any movie that features dinosaurs attacking humans is worth being covered here on BD. The Universal and Amblin logos at the start of Jurassic Park 3 were cleverly modified to reference a memorable moment from the original film – the logos both ripple and distort as if they’re being reflected in puddles of water, and the loud stomps of an approaching dinosaur can be heard. Talk about setting the mood early!
As you’ve surely gathered by now, Warner Bros. is pretty cool with filmmakers messing with their logo, and the 2005 film Constantine took that liberty one step further by, well, completely destroying the studio’s logo. A hellish, post-apocalyptic wind sweeps in and totally decimates the logo, subsequently crumbling the logos for Village Roadshow Pictures and Vertigo.
8) ALIEN 3
This one is a little bit different, but deserves to be on the list all the same. The 20th Century Fox logo at the start of Alien 3 wasn’t visually changed at all by David Fincher, but he did modify the studio’s signature theme in a creative way. The tune starts to slow down to a crawl and then takes on a sinister tone, leading right into the film itself. Subtle but incredibly effective.
9) POLTERGEIST (2015)
The most recent logo modification I can think of came courtesy of last year’s Poltergeist remake. The film, which didn’t bother to bring anything new to the table, was forgettable at best, though we’ve certainly seen way worse remakes. In any event, the opening MGM logo was creepily distorted for the modern day revamp, so there’s that. Nothing special, but worth mentioning.
Can you think of any other horror movies with custom studio logos? Let us know!