Sunday, June 6, 2010
Horror Cliches are Here to Stay!!!
Boils and ghouls... recently an article had come to my attention concerning the prevalence of horror cliches and their potential dissolution (or at least the writer's wish for them to be abolished FOREVER). To this I say nay! They shall not go quietly into the night. Horror cliches should stand strong and survive and here, my dear readers, is the reason why in paint by number, chronological, sarcastic order.
First things first...
-READ THE ARTICLE THAT STARTED IT ALL!!!
-51 WORST HORROR CLICHES
-20 Horror Cliches
-20 Horror Cliches... with funny pictures
-Top 8 Most Overused Horror Cliches
Let's introduce the writer and the article and let me preface this whole thing with the fact that I have the utmost respect for this site's content, the writer's excellent style and research and the website for which they stand (one nation, under god, with bloodbaths and gorefests for all). The article is "Dear Horror Cliche", Go Away by Adam Dodd. I don't know much about the author other than he's a regular on Bloody-Disgusting.com (my number one site for horror news, movie reviews spoilers and all and for the betterment of the horror loving race). His article details thirteen (thirteen?... really) separate cliches he wishes to see "go away". He acknowledges the importance of each cliche through the years in evolving the genre and the scares that each one has contributed as well as tubs of popcorn tipped and hickies given, but he begs for their retirement. Let's count them off and offer a rebuttal (Lincoln-Douglas debate or Town Hall meeting?)
-Lincoln-Douglas debate HANDBOOK!!!
-Town Hall Debate
-Dr. Terror's Recommended Favorite Horror Site
Mr Dodd's first motion for the removal of cliche is the epic bafflement: "No One Believes the Kid". So we don't believe the kid in a horror movie and mayhem ensues right? Well I dare say that this is important lesson of which the parents of this great blue marble need to take note and remains very important to the genre. It's always nice to get an "I told you so" from a five year old. Kids smell fear. Kids know fear. Kids have seen the bogeyman and remember exactly what he looks like. And what's worse? We as adults DON'T BELIEVE THEM ON A REGULAR BASIS! It's absolutely true. "Mommy, there's a monster in my closet... OH REALLY LITTLE JOHNNY!? You just woke me up in the middle of the night out of a sound sleep to give me a lecture in your imagination." And Mommy goes to bed, and the monster eats Johnny and Mommy learns an important lesson. It's Grimm's fairy tales embodied. That's why this cliche must stand. To preserve the true nature of fairy tales: TO TERRIFY CHILDREN INTO BEHAVING AND TO REMIND PARENTS THAT JUST BECAUSE THEY'RE OLD ENOUGH TO READ DOESN'T MEAN THEY SHOULD FORGET WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO CINDERELLA! (end rant... next topic).
-Grimm's Fairy Tales
-More Grimm's Fairy Tales
"It's A Zombie Dammit"... the author asserts that no matter what happens in a zombie movie, the protagonists fail to recognize or believe what they are up against. He basically wants you to shoot the thing in the head and ask questions later. To that I give you, Ghostbusters... My argument is DON'T CROSS THE STREAMS! So you have a big bad and your extermination method of choice is to aim your proton pack and fire, but do so in the way that Egon Spengler told you to i.e. don't cross the streams. Well if you follow the approved method... to stop Gozer... to annihilate the traveler... You would be very dead and so would New York City. Because it's not always the obvious and it's not good to go around half cocked. Keep this one because you absolutely need a little bit of scientific method in your horror movies.
-Don't Cross The Streams in Legoland
"What's That Looking At You in the Mirror?"... basic idea here is that character opens door, closes door with mirror on it... previously not there spooky bad guy is now in the reflection when one was not previously there. I love this scare. It works on me every time. My only argument... it's effective and I don't mind a jump scare as long as the monster looks cool enough to scare me (doubley so if the person looking in the mirror is female and topless).
-Mirrors... Gateways to Hell?
Our author's next attack is on the little people: "Small Town Gets More Than They Can Handle"... this cliche is close to my heart. I have grown up and lived in small towns all my life. Maybe not as small as some, but small enough to call small, and I will tell you from experience that they can't handle it and the world should know it. It plays on one of our greatest fear. Isolation. We're a million miles from cell phones, cable television, the Blob and any horror classic that has dealt with the plight of the small town, now we have to struggle to survive. Survival stories bring out the best in an audience and allow the audience to personalize the horror. If anything I would look to Scream. Scream: small town, with a very aware group of teens about to be slaughtered. No matter how many miles from civilization and no matter how small the town, it's because the SWAT team doesn't get called in that our teens get destroyed one by one. I don't want a bunch of horror movies to involve cell phones where everyone can simply reach out and touch someone to escape the perils of the serial killer (even if that is partial plot device of Scream... and every other movie lately).
Guide to small town America:
-CNN's Best Places to Live
"Horny Teens Get Picked Off One by One"... Again, moral imperative. Asking to get rid of this cliche is like forgetting why they call her Cinderella (did you do your homework and find out why yet?). Sex KILLS! Un-repressed urges/unchecked libidos don't just get you laid... they get you dead. Let's make sure we keep it wholesome by killing the one's who can't keep it in their pants (or skirts, or whatever the kids are wearing these days).
-How to control your urges
"Vacation Terrors"... My dad used to tell me stories about an evil pirate captain/ghost who would wander the Jersey shore. He would tell us as we sat in a dark motel room across the street from the beach. We'd spend all night waiting for the good Captain to make his presence known (and to have the wits/shits scared out of us). Point: It's part of my god damn childhood. Vacation scares make great bed time stories. A monster around a beach fire or in the water doesn't get old. When are we going to see a truly terrifying amusement park movie? It's been a long time since Funhouse and Zombieland gave us some excellent imagery here but didn't tackle the location full on. The author of this article is very adamant about solving the problem by picking a well populated vacation spot... I say... see 2000 Maniacs a few more times.
-2000 Maniacs Trailer
-Jersey Shore Vacation Planner
"We're Fine, There's Nothing After Us"... Yes, it's true. Most characters in your horror movies are in complete denial of what is going on around them. Bodies definitely stack up and it's hard to ignore that, but consider how many folks die per day. Consider the emphysema ridden smoker who continues to smoke and smoke and smoke and... this guy is in denial and he dies. It's reality. Denial is reality. You can't take it out of the horror genre because it's like taking out going to the bathroom. You have to have it. It's life.
-Five Stages of Grief
"The Shower Girl"... why does Adam Dodd want to take boobies away from us? That is all I have to say on that. It's OK to be scared. Even more so in the shower.
-Hot Horror Shower Scenes: By Google
"Abstinence is Key"... we addressed this one but the inverse. So the key to survival is abstinence... I don't really think anyone believes this is actually the case, but it's really hard to make the teen manwhore the hero when he's dicking over girls left and right (pun intended) by ruining their good names. It's also difficult to make the town whore a hero (but I beg you to see the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). Again, we have the Grimm morality lessons... horror movies are the new fairy tales... blah blah blah! Give them their morality lessons lest parents may never let their kids watch them at inappropriate ages to scare them into being upstanding citizens.
Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
"He's Not Dead Yet" a. we want to give props to Mr. Dodd for securing the best possible image to illustrate this topic (make sure you check this out... he worked hard to capture the image). b. Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees... our greatest genre heroes/icons... DO NOT DIE... and you can't take that away from them, but we can't have movies where our protagonists stand over the big bag guy with a shot gun blowing holes in their respective heads every time they get up, right? (I mean, that might be a fun little device in a future sequel... take note). He's not dead, and there's no way to know it until he gets back up. Deal with it.
-Monty Python addresses Not Dead Yet
"Damn You Technology!"... the failure of the modern devices of leisure is essential to a good horror flick. Why? It's puts us even with our ancestors. THE APES!!! And what's scarier than being removed from modern conveniences. It's primal. As Bela Lugosi said in Ed Wood, "The pure horror, it both repels, and attracts them, because in their collective unconsciousness, they have the agony of childbirth. The blood. The blood is horror."... I definitely want to make out with a young lady... I will definitely take her to see Dracula because you have to get back to basics (as Bela/Landau/the script writer suggests is the way to get 'er done). That's why Sleep Away Camp is so terrifying (never mind that Angela kills a camper with a drill in part two). Your camping... roughing it. Technology can't save you.
-Technology... A MUST READ
-Mare Gets Drilled
"Let's Investigate!" ... Mr. Dodd... curiosity killed the cat. You can't take this one out of horror movies. You just can't. We want to know, and there's no way to know that what we are about to investigate us will turn us into a pod person (from the planet Mars or other similar planet). I always go into the basement. I always go into the bedroom after hearing that sound, and I always wonder what the smell is coming from my neighbors apartment. Always.
-How to Become a Detective
We come to our final cliche: "I Must've Dosed Off". The idea here is that mid-movie, a dream takes the place of reality and we get to see a "what if" moment. A moment that doesn't happen, shouldn't happen or a foreshadowing moment. All excellent devices. I would love to see Nancy actually get eviscerated in that bathtub in a Nightmare on Elm Street, but it doesn't happen, there's no dream sequence to actually show me that image, and I feel cheated. It gives the special effects guys a chance to be creative and for, main characters, a chance to participate in a neat death scene when the don't die in the movie and can live on to be in the sequel (played by someone else). I'll never forget this scene in some movie that I have forgotten the name of where this guy wakes from a horrible nightmare. He is seemingly fine, pulls away the covers and he has a half a crab body where his torso/lower extremities should be... and then he wake up again. It keeps movies fun and not every movie can by Silence of the Lambs realistic. (side note: also check out the dream sequence in Summer School... poor Chainsaw).
-Scene from Summer School
-When Kids have NIGHTMARES
I want to cap this entry into the real estate of terror by saying that you'll get a laugh out of Dodd's plea. You'll love the illustrations he uses to guide you to his conclusions, and I will even say I feel a certain kinship with the author. I love a good original horror pic that keeps me guessing as much as the next doctor, but I watch Kung Fu movies for the fight scenes, romantic comedies for the panty shots and documentaries for Michael Moore's scathing criticism of everything. Terror is as terror does.
-The Brothers Terror (just one brother... one doctor to rule them...)
From the bowels and brains of American International to the rib cage and eye sockets of Amicus, Doc Terror will write your eyes shut from the prehistory to the post apocalypse of horror.Doc Terror is a contributor to The Liberal Dead and The Dead Air Podcast.