6 Horror Movies You Didn’t Know Were Based on Short Films

Short Film The Evil Dead

Short filmmaking is an artform that deserves more recognition. Many talented creators have gotten their start with flicks that were too brief to qualify as a feature. Yet such efforts almost always go widely overlooked and rarely have a shot at getting any sort of distribution or making money. 

It’s disappointing to see the short so often overshadowed by feature filmmaking, especially when one stops to consider that at least a handful of the films we know and love wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the short form precursor that led to the feature getting greenlit in the first place. 

With that in mind, I am spotlighting six feature films you may not realize are based on a short. Read on and be sure to hit us up with your thoughts on  Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.


Knowing they had something special with the original idea for Saw, James Wan and Leigh Whannell put together a short film to aid in their quest to find funding to produce a full-length feature. The original short is retroactively referred to as Saw 0.5. Rather than telling a truncated version of the entire film, the duo opted to shoot a scene directly from their full-length script. The sequence depicted in Saw 0.5 was reshot for the feature and sees Amanda (Shawnee Smith) in the reverse bear trap. For anyone interested in tracking the original proof of concept down, it is available as a bonus feature on the Saw: Uncut Edition Blu-ray. 

Saw Cary Elwes

The Pact

Nicholas McCarthy’s The Pact really blew me away the first time I watched it. Like many films from the genre-focused IFC Midnight label, it is artistic, shocking, and smart. What you may find equally shocking is that the film is based on a 2011 short of the same name. The precursor shares many plot points with the feature-length version. McCarthy reportedly found himself inspired to flesh the concept out to 90-minutes after seeing the reaction to his (equally intense) short film of the same name when it screened at festivals. Check out the short for yourself on McCarthy’s Vimeo


The short upon which Excision (2012) is based debuted four years before the feature-length version went before audiences. And watching it back now, it’s apparent that Richard Bates, Jr. was a star long before horror fans took notice of the director’s work en masse. The eighteen-minute precursor tells a condensed version of the horrifying story that unfolds in the 2012 feature. None of the original cast members reprised their role for the feature-length version. But each piece is excellent in its own way, so it’s nice to be able to compare and contrast the two as separate entities without the added complication of comparing two performances by the same person. 



Paul Solet shocked and horrified audiences with his gruesome tale of a child vampire in 2009’s Grace. But did you know the flick is based on a short? When seeking financing, Solet and company put together the precursor as a proof of concept. But the short is no joke. You can take a look at the original film (with director commentary) right here if you’re inclined to do so.   

Fun fact: The original short stars Liza Weil (Stir of Echoes) and Brian Austin Green (Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2). In his director’s commentary, Solet explains how he landed Green with no budget to speak of. 


Evil Dead

There wouldn’t be an Evil Dead franchise were it not for Sam Raimi’s short film, Within the Woods. The precursor features both Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss. They both went on to star in The Evil Dead. The short is certainly rough around the edges but really showcases Raimi’s potential and ability to create atmosphere. While the short was primarily intended as a proof of concept, it’s well worth a look if you’re a fan of Raimi. If you’re curious, you can check Within the Woods out for yourself right here

Short Film The Evil Dead

Trick ‘r Treat 

For my money, this is one of the most inspirational stories on the list. The short film that serves as a precursor to Trick ‘r Treat wasn’t made with the immediate intention of using it as a proof of concept. In fact, Michael Dougherty first created a film starring the now-infamous Sam all the way back in 1996 as a film school student. The animated short is called Seasons Greetings (you can still watch on Dougherty’s YouTube Channel) and eventually served as something of an early precursor to Trick ‘r Treat. The storyline of the short is somewhat reminiscent of Sam’s eventual arc in the anthology feature. But I’ll leave it there so you can check it out and draw your own conclusions. 



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