Throwback Thriller Toolkit—Celebrating Cult Horror Nostalgia with Stock

Are you ready to go back to the Upside Down? Stranger Things is about to make its second season debut—and with other cult hits like It! and the Twin Peaks revival grabbing headlines, it’s safe to say the throwback thriller is at an all time peak.

So what is it about the cult thriller that we love so much? It could be the feel-good nostalgia and retro vibes of characters that remind us of our childhood—or at least our favorite films and shows from our childhood. Or perhaps it’s the addictive, alchemical mix of adrenaline-pumping scares and plot twists in otherwise familiar settings. Whatever our reason for coming back for more, the recent genre revival has given us a surplus of thrills and chills fit for both the big and small screens.

To celebrate our favorite dark and mysterious stories, we’ve gathered some of our most spectacular and creepy retro horror stock media for our Throwback Thriller Toolkit.

Retro After Effects Templates + Throwback Footage

Over the last year, Stranger Things’ logo has become iconic for its stylized retro neon typeface. Master your own cult intro with old school effects like this retro AE template.

Download this 80s After Effects template.

From Psycho and The Shining to more recent retro hits like I Know What You Did Last Summer, the road trip is an essential establishing trope for horror films, taking the audience from a place of unsuspecting familiarity, like the protagonist’s car, to a nightmare reality. Start off with an iconic driving shot of your own with this vintage car clip.

Download this vintage car clip.

Whether tucked away in Derry, Maine or far off in the sleepy town of Twin Peaks, Washington, horror loves to lurk in the shadows of small towns, surrounded by dark countrysides and deceptively idyllic forests. Make sure you set the scene with shots like this mountainous pine forest aerial.

Download this mountain pine forest shot.

Dark Synth Vibes

If we could pick three terms to describe the sound design in throwback thrillers, it would be screams, jump scares, and synth. While scary sound effects and music are essential to the horror genre as a whole, synth music perfectly captures the retro aesthetic of the throwback thriller.

Ominously evocative of 8-bit video games and films like Tron and Blade Runner, use music like these synth tracks to create a more mysterious tone.

Download this samurai fighting music.

Download this 80s night music.

Hear More Synth Tracks

VHS Glitch Design Tutorial

Cult horror nostalgia isn’t just for video—capture that glitchy, found footage VHS aesthetic made famous by the Blair Witch Project with this Adobe Illustrator tutorial.

Tutorial: How to Create a VHS Glitch Effect in Illustrator


Download the gritty forest image we used for this effect.

Try It Out With More Spooky Images

Looking for more thrills and chills? Explore our Halloween Horror footage collection, as well as our scary audio, and Halloween Graphics collections.