Horror movies can be some of the most intriguing, terrifying and inventive ways of scaring audiences. Plenty of films go through a rigorous testing process before they find the best way to scare us. Sometimes, that’s through horrifying effects of mangled bodies or broken faces. Or some directors will choose to play on an innocent level and turn something as simple as a clown into a terrifying entity that will stalk your nightmares for weeks. Others are clever enough to critique the horror genre as a whole, and end up changing the game completely.
But then again, some directors approach a film with a very specific vision and aren’t able to look past the needs of the studio or their budget restraints. They’ll commission art to work for later down the line and find that they can’t accommodate their original ideas. And those horrific designs that could have changed everything about a film get tossed aside and never used again. We’re taking a trip down the dark side and discovering pieces of abandoned concept art that show us what could’ve been in some of the most iconic films in cinema. Fair warning though, some of these images aren’t exactly pleasant. Here are 15 abandoned horror movie designs.
15 ALIEN: COVENANT
Eve after Ridley Scott's controversial choices in Prometheus, the ending actually still had a lot of potential. Shaw and David head to the Engineer’s world to find answers. Unfortunately, all Shaw found was death. David however, found inspiration by experimenting on her body. This official concept art shows off what could’ve happened to her body -- harvested to be used as a birthing pod for David’s creations.
It’s a grim ending to the character that had already survived so much. Bishop is still the only android that we’re completely okay with. Walter didn’t do enough to stop David in Covenant after all. Poor Elizabeth Shaw. Does this mean that she was the first version of the Alien queen? That’s one hell of a character development arc.
Whether you noticed or not, "The Conjuring Universe" is an actual thing and has pumped out four major motion pictures since the first movie, The Conjuring debuted in 2013. Since then, we've seen a sequel to said film and two spin-off movies featuring the creepiest doll to ever exist in Annabelle. Well, even though she scared audiences in the form we see today, she could have looked quite different.
With two equally creepy looks, the designs by artist Luca Nemolato are actually more frightening than what we got. Depicted on the left, Annabelle is in a blue dress that we feel would look quite nice on a normal doll. Unfortunately, she has a giant hole where her eye should be and a truly twisted cracked smile. The one on the right looks to be dressed in a makeshift wedding dress and there's nothing creepier than a haunted doll bride.
13 HELLBOY II
Guillermo Del Toro is known worldwide for his work with horror movies and creature based films. The Hellboy franchise is a perfect example of that. It’s also a great example of when practical effects in Hollywood work very well, because Del Toro brings the world of Hellboy to life.
In the second film, the half-demon hero is aided by Johann Kraus, a gaseous form of an B.P.R.D. agent whose body was destroyed. He's contained within a suit and has a gas dome where his head should be, but the concept art by Sergio Sandoval portrays Kraus in a much more intimidating manner. The way his head stretches out of the suit feels like something from Stranger Things. This would definitely have been more unsettling in the film.
12 THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon used The Cabin in the Woods to critique and make fun of nearly every major horror franchise and trope around. And they did it to an impressive level, using hundreds of different monsters and genres to really give the film an endless supply of villains and creatures. Some of the concept art shows off impish figures that might not look too harmless to begin with.
But since we saw what a Unicorn was capable of doing to a scientist in the film, we’re sure that these winged demons would have their fair share of torture and murder. The red imp looks like he’d enjoy every minute of slaughtering each person, and we bet that smile would only grow wider with each kill.
Although not an immense horror franchise that is known around the world, 2015's Krampus did still manage to make four times its budget at the box office. Starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette, the movie featured an ancient spirit who punishes any grinches that may have lost the Christmas spirit. No, it's not the most inspired story, but Krampus himself did turn out to be super creepy and the concept art reveals that he could have looked much worse.
Artist Edvige Faini put together a look for the Christmas demon that does away with the super long nails and dials the giant horns down a notch. Faini's design puts chains on the monster, something that makes us think of A Christmas Carol, and pulls the hood down off of the beast. We can only hope he kept that disgustingly awesome long tongue.
10 THE MIST
An adaptation of Stephen King’s tale of death and despair (as usual), it sees a father and his son trapped in a supermarket as a thick fog descends on the town they live in. Anyone who ventures outside is ripped to shreds and killed by various tentacle and clawed monsters. This concept art from the film adaptation sees one of the crab-like monsters drawn to a comparative size.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to see this giant monster in the film -- only the smaller beasts that hound the townspeople. The giant behemoth we see at the end is the only other huge monstrosity that the film shows us. But this beast looks like some sort of mutated killer wooly mammoth. That’s likely why director Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) didn’t include the design in the film.
9 THE CONJURING 2
As noted before, the franchise has sparked something of a horror cinematic universe, incorporating various demons, ghosts and all manner of ghostly apparitions to scare audiences. As well as the terrifying Nun that’s earned its own spin-off, one of the scariest demons in the film was the "Crooked Man". And he went through several different looks before James Wan settled on the final version.
But this version from artist Jared Krichevsky gives us the love child of Dr. Seuss and the Slenderman, and it’s absolutely terrifying. The lack of eyes is completely unsettling, and that smile makes us shudder a little bit. Good luck sleeping after seeing this. We’re going to have trouble getting the image out of our heads. Let’s hope James Wan doesn’t decide to bring him back for a solo movie any time soon.
8 THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE
One of horrordom's most classic of classic characters, Leatherface has been goring up cinemas for decades now and his look has become iconic to screamers around the world. Armed with his trusty chainsaw and filled with the creepiest grunts and noises any audience has ever heard, Leatherface is a legend, and artist Jerad S Marantz certainly pays tribute to that longevity with these concept designs.
The look on the left definitely shows off an older Leatherface with receding hairline and wispy white hairs. The character has been around since the '70s so it only makes sense that his disgusting face and hair would show off some years. The look on the right is more of a traditional Leatherface mask, what with his white ghostly menacing look.
Back in 2012, the Weinsteins were approaching the idea of remaking the Hellraiser franchise, made famous by the Pinhead villain that has reached a level of infamy. They commissioned concept art to see what a remake could look like, and although the series will continue with Hellraiser: Judgement, back in 2012 the art was eerily haunting.
It showed off a macabre piece of machinery that would likely be used to inflict unimaginable pain on the souls of the victims Pinhead and the other Cenobites had kidnapped. And the early version of the villain with not as many pins in his head stalks the front of the image, looking completely menacing. It also gives us a new look at what the Cenobites dimension looks like, and it’s completely disorientating.
6 THE THING
John Carpenter’s classic science fiction horror is known as one of the best films in the genre, and it remains one of the scariest alien films to date. It’s clever use of paranoia to confuse the audience and the characters as to who is normal and who has been turned into a terrifying monstrous imposter is absolutely genius.
Artist Michael Ploog worked on the film with Carpenter in 1982, and his version of the "Dog-Thing" could have been incredible had the effects been a little more advanced. It sees the monster able to walk on hind legs, with a triple mouthed snout to attack its prey. Fans will know that the "Dog-Thing" in the final film isn’t as extensive, but this could’ve been an absolute scene stealer.
Before the Predators film starring Adrien Brody was in production, 20th Century Fox were looking for pitches to reinvigorate the franchise. Vincenzo Natali used concept art in his pitch by artists like Dan Milligan and Amro Attia, and the latter's design for the Predator looks insane.
Giving a very dark sci-fi look, this sharp-angled creature looks like it stepped right off the spaceship and is already prepared for the hunt. With blades and sharp edges protruding out of every which way, this hunter looks like the worst thing that could ever happen to anyone in its path. Plus, it really highlights the size of the Predator as it looks towering -- we wouldn’t fancy fighting that beast. We’ll happily watch others try though. Get to the chopper.
One of the most iconic horror franchises in the past 20 years might have looked radically different if Wes Craven had chosen a different mask for the iconic killers to wear. The white scream mask has become as famous as the films it was initially critiquing and making fun of.
But it almost looked more monstrous and devilish, luckily Craven stuck with the minimalist design, because some of these concepts just wouldn’t have had the same terrifying and lasting effect that "Ghostface" has had. Some of them would’ve also looked pretty cheesy if they’d gone with the Halloween mask look. Billy Loomis and Stu ripping off a mask with bulging eyes and mutated features just wouldn’t have had the same impact, we’re glad Craven chose the right design.
3 PARADISE LOST
Scott Derrickson was cherry picked to helm Doctor Strange because he’s a huge fan of the comics, and because he has an undeniable eye for directing uncomfortable horror movies, and his eye for design certainly bled through into some of the trippier sequences of Doctor Strange. But he was originally tipped to take on an adaptation of the Paradise Lost poem, which focused on Lucifer, the fallen angel.
These pieces show Lucifer as he would have initially been presented, and then his final descent to becoming Satan. Derrickson previously revealed the in-between versions of Lucifer too, but they aren’t quite as scary -- although they’re slightly intimidating, but they do look like white and gold versions of The Vision. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see the full horrific form in a film -- it’s stuck in development hell.
2 AMERICAN HORROR STORY
One of television's most enduring horror shows, American Horror Story is constantly reinventing itself as seasons go by, creating a true anthology horror series the likes we haven't seen before. Although some actors do come back every season, their roles are mostly different, but the one thing that does remain is the amount of creepy characters that said cast runs into throughout the show.
Again, artist Jerad S Marantz brings the creeps with his designs for creatures seen in American Horror Story: Asylum, the second season of FX's hit horror show. On the left is what we figure is the alien that, for some reason, factored into this particular season of AHS. The one on the right is obviously concept art for series threat Bloody Face who, obviously, was a killer with a mostly bloody face.
1 ALIEN 5
Remember when the director of the brilliant District 9, Neill Blomkamp, was going to make a side sequel to Aliens that would see Hicks and Newt survive? Unfortunately, it’s now scrapped. But there were some incredible ideas coming from the director. We’ve all seen the image of Ripley wearing what looks like an Alien head converted into a helmet. What purpose this would serve was never revealed -- but it was cool to think of it as a way for Ripley to control the Xenomorphs.
It feels like the Jurassic Park 4 concept arming Dinosaurs with guns, just cooler. This is just the next step up from controlling velociraptors, controlling Xenomorphs via VR headset. It’s an incredible idea, although Alien purists may not like the idea as it betrays everything about the monsters. Unfortunately, we’ll never see Blomkamp’s vision in live action, it was scrapped some time ago.
Would you like to have seen any of these concepts come to life? Let us know in the comments!