The Ninjabot

The 5 Worst Horror Movie Cliches

Posted on July 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm by Jason Byard

In a genre brimming with tired clichés, I give you the worst of the worst.

The Sensual Vampire

interview with a vampireAlways a stalwart element of horror fiction since Bram Stoker, the sexy vamp has become just about the most perfunctory and cloying stock character you can have in a horror movie. Why? Well because they’ve been defanged, of course. From Dracula on, the rakish bloodsucker has always served as a convenient cultural symbol—an erstwhile repository of the feminine desire to pursue the rogue. That was always the appeal. Chicks dig the bad boy. And who is badder than a 400 year old undead nobleman with an insect eating manservant? Fast forward to today and all the danger is gone, replaced with ham-fisted sentimentality and mopey teenage logic. Blame Anne Rice. Blame Twilight. Blame whatever. All that really matters is that there’s nothing sexy or interesting about emo children. Let alone ones that live forever.

Found Footage

Oh god…can we please stop with this already? Please? Talk about your good ideas run into the ground. We all have the desire to see real tragedy. It’s that innate desire to be a witness to something shocking that fueled the success of the Mondo Cane and Faces of Death movies. It was the same allure that allowed The Blair Witch Project to break all kinds of box offices records and kick off the found footage sub-genre in the first place. However, the film’s successors have hardly grasped that vaunted mantle. Found footage movies are terrible because they limit the story to essentially what occurs in front of a single character. Any background or compelling frame story is lost altogether, or worse, gracelessly shoe-horned in. In reality, they’re really only just half a movie, and the half that’s missing is the part that’s supposed to make you care about the story in the first place.

The Jumping Kitty

catStop me if you’ve heard this one: strange noise leads to investigation of darkened area, we anticipate killer leaping out for the requisite jump scare, cat jumps out instead providing expected scare, characters laugh and shrug it off, characters later die. It’s just cheap. Oh, so undeniably cheap. How lame is the jumping cat gag? So lame that even parodies of it are lame. Don’t agree with me? Well, watch the part in the Halloween episode of the first season of Community when Jeff, Troy and Abed run afoul of just such a menacing feline. Just try to fight the compulsion to get up and check Facebook after that.

Unexplained Gadget Geniuses

Remember the end of Nightmare of Elm Street when Nancy reads a pamphlet and suddenly possesses Vietcong-level booby trap making skills? It’s just the worst. How some dopey highschooler always manages to go from Molly Ringwald to the Professor from “Gilligan’s Island” always mystifies and always disappoints. These little revelations of gadget ingenuity generally occur at the peak of the climax, too, which is of course followed inevitably by a chorus of groans and, “Aw come on’s!” that pull you right out of the moment.

Clichéd Horror Movies Satirizing Horror Movie Clichés

screamNo, you can’t blame this one entirely on the Wayans Brothers. Self-referential story-telling really only goes so far. What worked with Scream back in the 90’s worked because it fit perfectly within the post-Pulp Fiction “everyone wants to be a movie geek” zeitgeist. It’s had to overstate just how trite and pretentious that kind of film making feels 20 years later. If we didn’t appreciate all those standard genre conventions before, we certainly do by now. We don’t need to have them pointed out to us and you can’t expect a laugh of even so much as a nod of recognition by this point. That ship has sailed.

What are the most egregious horror movie clichés in your opinion? Is there something you’ve noticed in your viewings that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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