Monday, November 3, 2008
One last Halloween post, a pared down version of an article on Moviefone.com. It's not very well written, but you get the idea.
You know the movie: It's called 'Your Typical Horror Film.' From vintage classics to awful remakes, horror flicks tend to use the same plot devices so often it's scary. Check out our list of the 26 most used horror clichés, then tell us your favorite.
1. Fun = Death
Horror films are often thinly veiled cautionary tales against premarital sex, drugs and alcohol: Anyone who indulges in said sinful acts winds up on the business end of the killer's weapon of choice, whilst the prudish babysitter with the turtleneck and pigtails survives to not have sex another day. In a weird way, the Puritans likely would have been huge horror fans.
2. Go It Alone
Pop quiz: A creepily suspicious sound emanates from a shadowy basement, lightless attic or pitch-black backyard -- what do you do? If you're in a horror flick, you investigate it by yourself, of course, preferably grabbing an always handy baseball bat (the perfect weapon against a cleaver!). And, just in case the killer didn't know where you were already, you scream, "Anyone there?" Because he'll definitely respond: "Just me, your friendly neighborhood murderer!"
3. How Many Horror Movie Characters Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?
After the aforementioned creepy noise in the basement or attic, our dimwitted victim will inevitably explore, but alas, the light switch never works. Has the killer turned off the electricity, or is someone behind on changing the light bulbs? Good thing they just so happen to have a flashlight! Or, for style points, a candle.
4. Somebody's There! Nope, Just the Cat
As our soon-to-be-victims navigate the darkness, they (and we) will inevitably be scared to high hell by a member of the animal kingdom, most commonly a cat but occasionally a raccoon or snake. And if a cat meows in act 1, it's bound to show up dead in act 3, murdered by the very killer who was lurking in the shadows all along. If pets could only talk, they'd tell us what idiots their owners all are.
5. "It's Probably Just the Wind."
A plea to Hollywood screenwriters: Please never, ever, ever type this line again. Really, who would say that? Yet we've heard it time and time again, the moment the victims (most likely in a wooded cabin area) hear a creepy noise coming from out yonder. And you know what, it's never the wind. Thus the one brilliant aspect of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (spoiler alert): It actually IS the wind that's killing people. A very, very angry wind.
6. Live Together, Die Alone
There's safety in numbers, so the saying goes. But apparently no one knows that in horror films. The victims are always splitting up, either to find a missing friend or the way out, and especially if they're young and sexy and stupid. Just think, all of Ash's friends from Evil Dead would still be alive, if only they'd stuck together.
7. Can’t You Hear Me Now?
If there's one thing horror movie killers are impressively adept at, it's planning ahead. They know their victims will attempt to call for help once the reign of terror starts, thus the inevitable moment when one of them picks up the phone to discover ... someone's cut the lines! Well played, slasher man. Luckily for you, no one ever has a cell phone, or at least cell phone service. Where's the Verizon army when you need them?
8. You Won't Be Right Back
There's no clearer hint that someone's about to bite the big one than the utterance of these four words: "I'll be right back." No, you won't be right back. In fact, within five minutes you'll be laying face-down in a pool of blood, crushed to a pulp under a garage door, decapitated by an axe or disemboweled on the toilet bowl.
9. The Man in the (Bathroom) Mirror
This is one of those moments that's so predictable, yet so effective, it's no wonder roughly 86 percent of horror movies must employ it: A main character or soon-to-be-victim is in the bathroom, washing her face or brushing her teeth. She looks down for a split-second, looks back up and the mirror's reflection reveals someone (or something) shockingly terrifying behind them. Cue the blood-curdling scream.
10. Ghosts Are Techies
You know what's cool? Technology. Seriously -- even ghosts like it. In fact, they dig it so much that they regularly inhabit cell phones, Web sites, even video cassettes (apparently, they didn't get the memo that people only watch DVDs now) -- occasionally calling unsuspecting victims to let them know that their phones will destroy them or miraculously climbing out of TV screens to asphyxiate them. Hey, at least the Amish are safe.
11. Time For A Tune-Up
Oh, thank goodness! The victim-to-be has made it to his/her car, gets the key inserted (after shakily trying three or four times), fires the ignition ... and griiiind. And again, griiiind. Oh, crap -- the killer's getting closer, but this auto just won't start! The killer's closer ... and closer ... and now he's at the door, reaching for the handle (or, even better, breaking the window) and ... success! The car starts, the lucky driver peels out.
12. Up Tempo
Your heart knows exactly when to start racing during 'Jaws.' That's because the music tells it to. As the beat speeds up, so does your pulse. It's the oldest trick in the music book. Too bad the victims never seem to notice the score.
13. Parents Just Don't Understand
"Out of the mouths of babes ..." says the Bible, preaching that it's children who are truly wise. Well, authority figures in horror movies must not read the Bible. Sometimes, it's only the kids who see floating furniture and talk to dead people; and no matter how much they explain and point, do their parents ever believe them? Nooooo.
14. The Brother Is Doomed
Whenever there's a black character in a horror movie -- be he a fun-loving frat brother or a freaked-out scientist -- take a nice, long look at him. Then say goodbye, because without a doubt, when the killer comes calling, our friend of color will be the first to go. We're not going to ruminate on why, exactly, the black guys keep on getting the shaft, but at least they die valiantly ... and spectacularly.
15. Take A Hint And Beat It Already
No matter what atrocious events occur in a horror film's haunted house or eerie town, its occupants just won't leave. People are turning up dead by the minute, there are mutants roaming the streets, the walls are bleeding ... No problem! They better stick around and get to the bottom of it. Of course, if horror characters ever heeded our advice and just GOT THE HELL OUTTA THERE!, the movies would be shorter than your average sitcom.
16. Kill Me Again ... and Again and Again
Killers never die, at least not the first time. See a presumably drowned Glenn Close popping out of the bathtub in Fatal Attraction, a smirking Audrey II at the end of Little Shop of Horrors, or Michael Myers in any edition of Halloween. Even if their heart has stopped beating and rigor mortis has set in, those pesky villains always find a way to come back for one last stab -- or shot or axe -- at vengeance.
17. The Slow-Paced Killer
Horror movie villains may be big, strong and seemingly immortal, but if there's one thing they're not, it's quick on their feet. These baddies never seem to run after their victims (or even speed-walk), instead casually strolling after them like golfers between holes. But of course they always catch them, thanks to inevitable trip or fall or their uncanny ability to be in two places at once.
18. Young Girls Wobble, and They All Fall Down
The monster/slasher is in hot pursuit; the young, terrified couple takes off running through the woods. We're not asking a starlet to be an Olympic athlete or anything, but is it really that hard for her to run more than a few steps without tripping and falling, leaving the man to stop and help her up just in the nick of time? She's not even chewing gum! Of course, it might help if she took off those impractical high heels -- because fashion ought to be secondary to, you know, survival.
19. No Rifle Association
Movie slashers are indeed a psychotic bunch. If they merely wanted to murder their victims in cold blood, especially when avenging some wrongdoing (see I Know What You Did Last Summer), they'd just go to the local gun shop, pick up a piece and start shooting. But as we know, a gun would be too easy. Instead they favor more exotic weaponry, from a machete to a hook to chainsaw.
20. He Hates These Boobs!
In horror flicks, the girl with the big chest -- and there's always at least one -- is typically one of the first to get dispatched, but not before we’ve had a chance to see her taking a shower or having sex.
21. The Kid Slays in the Picture
Children are supposed to be cute, not creepy. Little girl in The Ring, we're looking at you ... and it's really freakin' us out! And even the kids who look like angels -- Damien in The Omen, Macaulay Culkin in The Good Son, the blonde gal with braids in The Bad Seed -- turn out to be utterly evil, not to mention homicidal.
22. Why So Obvious?
Of course that creepy looking dude is the killer, he just got out of prison ... for murder. And that's just what the writers want the movie's characters -- and viewers -- to think. Until about three-fourths of the way through the film, that is, when that ex-con/prime suspect is found slashed/mangled/frozen. And sometimes it turns out that the guy was trying to help the others escape from the real killer. Oh, sweet irony.
23. The "Kindness" of Strangers
That stranger seems mighty helpful, right? Wrong. As poor Janet Leigh found out in Psycho, Norman Bates really wasn't a good guy. Neither were Rosemary's overly accommodating neighbors. With strangers, the rule is simple: the sweeter they are, the more they want to hurt you.
I was inspired by comments in the previous post. A few Southern (and perhaps beyond) white trash delicacies that I ate as a kid.
Fried Vy-anna sausages (sometimes on white bread with mayo)
Pear halves with a dollop of mayo and a sprinkle of cheese (I scraped off the mayo and cheese)
Pimento cheese (yummmmm!!!) either on celery or white bread. The Varsity here in Atlanta still serves fried pimento cheese sandwiches.
Pineapple ring sandwiches (on white bread, of course)
Cottage fries sandwich
Deviled ham on saltine crackers
No one would ever accuse me of being a picky eater, but there are some things that aren't going in my mouth, yo.
Everything nasty about cabbage condensed into one vile little nugget. Easily the most foul-tasting vegetable I've ever tried, but then, I cooked it myself, so that might have something to do with it.
The nastiest leftover parts of the pig -- lips, toes, anus -- crammed into a condom-like casing. As delicious as this sounds, I shall pass.
From Wikipedia: "Gelatin is made from by-products of the meat and leather industry, mainly pork skins, pork and cattle bones, or split cattle hides." Speaking of...
FRIED PORK SKINS
Ever pull a dry piece of skin off your finger or elbow or toe? Now imagine eating it, except you pulled it from a pig's ass instead of your finger, elbow or toe. Still hungry?
I do like to roast them, though. Instead of putting one on a stick, I take the entire bag of marshmallows and dump it into the fire. I call them N'mores.
Yeah, I know, they're full of vitamins and minerals, but I'll just drag a carrot through the dirt and eat it instead. The taste will be the same, and the carrot won't turn my tongue purple.
Who was the first person to find one of these on the ocean floor, pry it open and say, "Wow, that looks like a loogie. I think I'll eat it"? "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster." - Jonathan Swift.
Here in the deep dirty South as a kid, I knew them as "VY-anna sausages," and yes, I ate my share, sometimes right out of the disgusting little can. Now I know better. See above description for sausage, then imagine a food made from the animal parts that even sausage won't use.
Why? Why eat a jellified rod of cough syrup without at least getting the narcotic effects?
The liver helps filter impurities from the body and produces bile. Mmmm... fry me up a big ol' piece of THAT, and toss some onions on it, too. Then top it off with a big dollop of cat shit (see foix gras).
A layer of chocolate surrounding a center of fluffed up, tasteless, pointless, annoying nougat. What the hell's a nougat, anyway? Oh yeah -- that thing I used to give my sisters on their heads. If I'm springing for a candy bar, I'm going all the way: chocolate, nuts, caramel. I got no time for nougat.
And a few nasty things I WILL eat (or have eaten):
"CHEESE" FROM A CAN