Hey guys! Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, Happy All’s Hallow Eve. Today Meghan and I are discussing tropes and fears – what does work in horror, what doesn’t work, and what is way overdone regardless of whether it works or not.
What’s the scene that scared me the most from a movie?
Summarized as: FREAKY CHILD CLIMBED OUT OF THE TV, Y’ALL. OUT OF THE TV.
Children are great fear inductors. They’re supposed to be innocent and pure. When they’re not, people are unsettled.That’s why children in horror movies works so well – The Omen, Children of the Corn, those creepy twins in The Shining.
True story: I once made the mistake of following a Laymon novel (Laymon is the campy horror god of my world) with another horror novel – this one being about savage children on a murdering rampage. (Said book also broke the rules and killed the protagonist. Way to throw me off-balance.) It’s possible that I barricaded myself into my room, stayed awake all night, and made some poor guy come search my entire house before I would consider sleeping. And by possible, I mean it definitely happened.
You know what happened when Samara climbed out of that tv? She broke the rules. She broke every horror rule I had expected, which is scary in its own right. If you break one rule, you can break another. How did I know that MY tv wasn’t next? I didn’t. Combined with her being a creepy child…I was doomed.
MS: What’s even funnier/worse about Samara is THE RING was the first horror flick I saw in theatres. My friends bullied me into it. I couldn’t (and still haven’t, and WON’T) watch the above clip, but something worse happened.
I was sitting home–alone, SEVEN DAYS LATER–doing my homework. The tv was on as background noise. The power cuts out. The tv cuts on, and it’s got that static roll going. Now, I’m getting pretty freaked out. The kicker? The tv cuts on and fucking SAMARA is crawling out of the well. I BOLTED.
Turns out it was just the commercial, but I didn’t turn on a tv for a month.
What’s the trope I laugh at the most?
Come on guys, you should know me by now. The busty chick who runs up the stairs instead of out the front door.
It’s been the running joke for years that I would in fact be that girl. And maybe I would – but I’d be going to get a weapon. (Or at least I’d remember to go get the weapon when I’m upstairs.)
MS: I think it was a Foamy the Squirrel cartoon that raised the question, “Why doesn’t the over-sexed busty chick running SCREAMING through the woods/house/parking lot ever stop and offer the killer a blow job? Why not use the trope to your advantage? It’d certainly have the element of surprise.
What trope annoys me the most?
Sex = Death. Virginity = Life
This reminds me of when the churches took over the pagan religions, and boom, everything had to be adapted to fit their church, or promptly made evil. I hate to break to all of you, but sex isn’t evil. While virgins may be metaphorical pure, and allowed to touch unicorns, they also got sacrificed in ancient religions. Clearly at some point in history sex had its advantages.
MS: BONUS: Unicorns? NOT pleasant. What do you think that horn is for?
From a movie standpoint, perhaps it’s just simple to correlate the obviously phallic nature of sex with the phallic nature of a blade. It’s also possible that for the killer, the act of murder is sexual so the artistic correlation of murder and sex is natural. But I think sex and death have always been linked – the orgasm is la petite mort after all (the little death). Taboo or not quite understood subjects have to get swept into the corners together. The advantage of this is once you have this knowledge, you can use it. While I haven’t watched A SERBIAN FILM (and will never, as I simply can’t handle that type of gore. Anything past SAW and I’m out.), I recall being fascinated with the idea that a gruesome horror movie could touch a sensitive subject such as ethnic cleansing. Is it possible that certain subjects can only be discussed when hidden behind the already taboo natures of sex and death? It’s something worth pondering, at least.
Do you know what is powerful? The unexpected. Switch the trope. People know the main rules for the genre, and will anticipate your story. How do you prevent that? The classic red herring – lead them one way, and switch paths suddenly.
I fell in love with DEEP BLUE SEA when LL Cool J’s character announced that he knew he was going to die, because the black guy always dies in these situations. Instalove between KJ and the movie, which means I’ve watched it enough that anyone who has ever lived with me hates this movie.
TRICK R’ TREAT which I recently watched under the suggestion of darling Meghan does a beautiful switch on the sex=death trope. I won’t describe it in case you haven’t seen the movie, but if you’re curious the following video should summarize pretty wonderfully.
MS: I think CABIN IN THE WOODS has a similar take by consciously using the tropes (the virgin, the scholar, the whore, etc) and making intelligent jokes about the genre and its expectations.
What horror movie won’t I watch?
Ever heard of a tulpa? Traditionally, a tulpa is an entity that’s created from enough people believing in it strongly. Santa Claus sightings would fall under this category. From what I remember about the Freddy movies, he’s potentially a tulpa. Which means my superstitious butt doesn’t need to feed his energy, or attract him to my house. No, thanks Freddy. You’re possibly way too real for me.
Notice how there’s not even a picture there? I mean serious business, y’all. I’m not even sure John Stamos could get me to watch that movie. Have mercy.
MS: Chucky. Now, I have seen half of Seed of Chucky, and while it was hilarious, my rule against possessed dolls stands. No. No way. Never. I was watching an episode of Brain Scoop last week and the commercial for the newest Chucky movie popped up.
I closed the internet.
Not just the tab.
Side note: Annabell, in THE CONJURING. LOOK AT THAT THING! IT IS CLEARLY EVIL. WHY WOULD YOU LET THAT INTO YOUR HOME?! Chucky was at least normal in the first couple of films (I think) and the real Annabell was a Raggedy Ann doll.
To sum it up – the best feature of horror is the ability to break all the rules. We expect monotony out of life. Out of movies. Out of books. We get used to the cages we build, the restrictions that we create. The moment when we forget all of that is when something really memorable can be formed. That’s what we’re trying to create – a scene that has a long-lasting effect.
Don’t forget – I’ll be back tomorrow. Why? Because they always come back. Didn’t the Michael Myers movies teach you anything?