Home invasion horror movies have been around for decades, and it’s easy to see why: it’s a setting that anyone can relate to. Unlike some subgenres that demand to be seen in theaters with crowds of like-minded fans, home invasion horror is perhaps best viewed, well, at home, where viewers can easily place themselves in the shoes of the terrified characters on screen.
So how do the studios and marketing teams grab audiences’ attention to get them into theaters, or entice them to pick up the movie on home media later on? With elaborate advertising campaigns and promotional giveaway items, of course! We’ve collected some of the coolest home invasion-themed merchandise from the annals of horror, so read on to see what you could bring into your very own home!
Going Home To The Last House on The Left
Wes Craven’s debut movie The Last House on the Left is *technically* not a Home Invasion film. The bad guys are invited into the home of their victims, married couple Estelle and John Collingwood (Richard Towers & Cynthia Carr). When the stranded gang led by the villainous Krug (David Hess) knocks on the couple’s door, neither party knows that Krug‘s group has raped and murdered the couple’s daughter and best friend (played by Sandra Peabody & Lucy Grantham) only hours before. What follows is a night of vengeance as the truth is discovered and the tables are turned on Krug and his minions in increasingly violent ways.
Produced by another horror legend, Sean S. Cunningham, who would go on to direct the original Friday the 13th, 1972’s Last House on The Left was released multiple times under multiple titles, but was memorably promoted with a marketing campaign that repeatedly advised viewers, “To avoid fainting, keep repeating, it’s only a movie…”
When released on VHS by Vestron Home Video in 1989, they sent along a neat little promotional item to video stores – a pen similar to the ones realtors and any number of other home businesses use to advertise, complete with a house as the pen cap. One of, if not the only, pieces of Last House on the Left merchandise out there, these pens are extremely rare and desired by collectors.
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The Strangers Arrive on Home Video
Originally due to release in 2007 before being pushed back, The Strangers arrived in 2008 with a terrifying marketing campaign that got straight to the point: this was a horror movie about people being terrorized in their home for no rhyme or reason. Starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a couple being stalked in their vacation home by three masked ghouls known only as Dollface, The Man in the Mask, and Pin-Up Girl, it was a box office hit and has developed a cult following in the years since its release.
Despite not having any officially licensed masks available for purchase until 2018 when The Strangers: Prey at Night was released, there were some promotional versions that coincided with the movie’s release. Initially appearing at San Diego Comic Con in 2008, these retro-style variations on the frightening faces were also available to the lucky first purchasers of the DVD exclusively at Best Buy. Only the first five customers at each store received a mask, and they only received one, so full sets of all three are difficult to come by. In addition, Walmart received an exclusive T-shirt with its DVD release, featuring the masked villains as well as the title and tagline.
Foxes, Tigers, & Lambs, Oh My!
Even if you dread family get-togethers at your home or theirs’ this month, it’s sure to go better than the family reunion in You’re Next. Following a semi-estranged family and their significant others as they are attacked in their sprawling home by animal-masked killers, this comedic horror directed by Adam Wingard plays with the tropes of the home invasion subgenre all the way to the blood-soaked end.
Filmed in 2011, You’re Next was not widely released until two years later in 2013. Due to come out just two months after The Purge, which also featured a family being terrorized in their home by masked psychos, You’re Next had to do something to make itself stand out. Taking a cue from the original Halloween, the masks worn by the movie’s killers are actually store-bought masks that are commonly available. The filmmakers painted them a ghostly white, and tada! A trio of instantly iconic slasher villains.
Taking advantage of their easy availability, the masks were left on statues across Los Angeles and New York by the movie’s marketing team in the days leading up to the theatrical release. Each one had an attached tag advertising the movie, hopefully grabbing the attention of whoever was lucky enough to find them first! These masks were also handed out at advanced screenings and at Comic Con 2013.
Double The Terror with Us
Earlier this year, the home invasion subgenre saw another twisting of tropes with the release of Us, Jordan Peele’s sophomore horror movie after Get Out. Starring Lupita Nyong’o as the matriarch of a vacationing family who is haunted by their decision to go to Santa Cruz, for reasons later discovered. As their vacation home is besieged by four mysterious intruders, Us begins as a home invasion thriller before becoming something altogether different. Nonetheless, it still devotes a significant portion of its running to the home invasion aspects, and they continue to pop up even once the movie goes in another direction.
In the months leading up to its release, lucky members of the press received several cool pieces of merchandise to promote the movie. Perhaps the most desirable was a replica of the gold scissors carried by the villains, contained in a luxurious box bearing the movie’s logo. In addition, inflatable beach balls were also used as a promo item as a nod to the movie’s Santa Cruz boardwalk setting.
Do you have any horror movie promo merch, home-invasion-themed or otherwise? Share your prized possession with us on Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook, and your collection could be featured in a future edition of The Collector’s Crypt!