Thursday, November 7, 2013

Horror Movie Stereotypes

I was watching some random horror movie on FEARnet the other day and it occurred to me that someone other than the wildly over-rated Jamie Kennedy of Scream fame should be chronicling the common denominators of horror movies. If you haven't seen the Scream movies, Jamie Kennedy plays the role of the horror movie buff who knows all of the inside secrets, what not to do, how to evade the killer, etc. I hate cliche 'me-too' posts, so I will strive to break new ground, but may fall short in my analysis. I just don't think he peeled the onion back enough. Who gets targeted first? Why are you in that situation in the first place? Does the killer wait until after I 'finish' in the bedroom? These questions need to be answered, and this post will hopefully provide well-researched clarity*. (*whatever I can find on Google at the time of the writing)

Theme #1 - Teens/College Getting Their Comeuppance In The Middle Of Nowhere
One of the most common threads throughout horror movies is cool teens or college kids going off on their own, away from their parents for a weekend of partying at a far-off location. But it's never anywhere near the rest of humanity. It's always an isolated run-down cabin, a desert, a mountainside shack, a camp run by stoners, a haunted house, or a shady hotel/motel in eastern Europe or Mexico with less-than-savory clerks and managers. We are trained to feel bad for them because of the predicament they are in, but in essence, should they really have been going to those locations in the first place? Can't you vacation somewhere that other folks occupy? I always need to have a police station, hospital, or town center at least five minutes from where we vacation. It basically guarantees we'll never be murdered, because our screams will undoubtedly be heard by a neighbor or a trendy wearing tight jeans going into Starbucks.

All too often, the victims are at a family member's second home, one that is invariably rustic, without adequate power, screwy locks, shoddy/creaky wood panels, prone to a lack of heat in the winter, and the lights are never replaced. Why can't you stay at a half-decent hotel? Does it have to be bug-infested with a front clerk that has a drooling conjoined twin head attached to it? Marriott rooms start as low as $129 a night. If you are with a group of friends, these costs can be easily defrayed and spread out over four or five nights. What about miniature golf? That's too gay you say? How can golf be gay? What about going to Atlantic City or Busch Gardens? Six Flags? A local farmer's market? No? If you can't afford that, then you probably shouldn't be going on vacation. Stay at your parents' house and pick up some hours at Rite-Aid - your beer fund will thank you once Spring Break is over.

If this is greets you at a motel, please run. For your life. 
The victims also refuse to complete a thorough car inspection before setting off on their journeys. Frequent calamities include flat tires as a result of under-inflation and poor driving around turns (inevitably hitting a pothole due to lack of infrastructure funding for middle of nowhere roads), faulty brakes due to driving a shitty 2001 Jetta with 140k miles that has never been properly serviced, the ever-popular 'engine trouble' that prevents the car from starting (SAE 5W-30 or SAE 10W-30 oil viscosity designations can be found in bottle form at your local grocery store), and finally, non-maintained keys with gunk and grime on them that inhibit timely starting of car in a moment of need. Throw in a high likelihood of at least three beers in the system before driving and a quick round of puff-puff-pass at Doug's house, and you have a recipe for disaster. Folks - rent a fucking car from Enterprise, split the costs and your likelihood of surviving goes up 25%.

Theme #2 - Black People Always Die First (Ok, most of the time)
Let's be honest - the second we typically see the token jive-talking black person in a horror movie, you know they will be the first to go. Like Clay Buchholz in the 2013 MLB Playoffs, these guys can't make it past the equivalent of the 4th inning. My calculations show that they usually wind up dead within thirty movie minutes of arriving at the vacation destination. It's just the way it is. Unless you are LL Cool J, who somehow defied logic and survived a Michael Myers movie. Probably the bullet-proof vest and pocket glocks through his security guard gig. But you name it - Scream movies, I Know What You Did movies, pretty much every Friday The 13th movie - they are the first to go. I don't know why. Do they know too much? Will the killer have less of an uphill battle if they take out the black dude first since they are probably the strongest and most athletic? Is killing the squawking black chick first really a wise tactical move? You're supposed to leave the confrontational pigeons till the end so that they give away everyone's position because they can't resist starting unnecessary fights about mundane things (ok that's every woman). But either way, the minority character unfortunately bares a disproportionate percentage of 'initial kills'. Yes, I intentionally kept this theme short. Moving on.

Theme #3 - The Hot Blonde and Token Meathead Die During Raucous Sex
No horror movie has a completely ugly cast. MTV learned that after Real World London. The head cheerleader/resident cum-dumpster needs to be romantically linked with the dumb jock meathead (or as I like to call him - "Richie Incognito"). Usually about 45 minutes into the movie, we get the obligatory sex scene while a killer is on the loose. You know the hot blonde isn't long for the movie due to the fact that she's probably a dummy and that her biscuit-necked boyfriend ain't too much brighter. Find a rickety mattress or jizz-stained futon and these savages are good to go. Part of you wants the scene to continue, but the other part of you wants the killer to stumble upon the sexcapades and put it to an abrupt end. Both usually get slaughtered within mere seconds of each other. If the killer is smart, he brings a javelin or a spear to shove through both sets of their guts so that they are intrinsically and sexually linked as they meet their maker. Blood burped up into each other' mouths as they snog and canoodle. Hopefully AS the guy blows his load (think of it as the horror movie version of autoerotic asphyxiation or Whip-Its. Dude it's such a high!!!!)

It's a damn shame that these two are dead, since one of them is usually the niece/nephew of the homeowner or lead contact with the hotel booking agents. A secondary character needs to now step up against their better judgment. Looks like we're now left with the frumpy/nebbishy brunette and the coke-bottle glasses wearing nerd.

Richie Incognito is every meathead in a horror movie. They can't die soon enough.

Theme #4 - Nerds Somehow Outwit, Outlast, Outplay
With the token minority, hot blonde, and meathead out of the way, the mantle of 'hero' is now inherited by the socially awkward nerd. Stringy, Edward Snowden-looking dweeb in a black Metallica or Lando Calrissian Star Wars shirt with an IQ of 160 or above. They have somehow eluded capture throughout the movie, by laying low and being pussies. If there's a closet to hide in, they will be in it. If there's a wardrobe to hide in, they will be in it. Hell, they'd hide in a boat, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev-style as long as they didn't have to fight alongside their 'friends'. Let's face it, they only dragged the nerd there to make fun of them. Trust me - I am one, I know this stuff. They weren't your friends, so maybe its ok that they get killed first - you were their whipping boy. But water under the bridge. You're alive, they aren't. The nerd looks like they are going to finally defeat the evil villain, and then they go and fuck it up. Remember - they are all brains, but no brawn. They're like the Moneyball Oakland Athletics - good enough to get to the playoffs, not built to win. Or an NCAA college basketball team that makes it to the Elite 8 against all odds. They eventually get clumsy and outsmarted at their own game. Mincemeat. They walk into a wall or a net contraption and then wake up on a table with half their organs missing.

They don't have the upper body strength because by nature they are ectomorphs. They couldn't overpower a Jack Russell Terrier. On the flip side, you also have the endomorphs of the bunch - the slow moving oafs who can't keep pace with the killer, fart as they run, and are quick to piss/shit their pants when the going gets tough. This is why nerds need to work out. If they did, they survive every horror movie.

Theme #5 - Frequent Tripping and Other Sloppiness
On the 'breaking new ground' front, this is nothing new, so apologies. People choke under pressure. Just look at Roger Clemens and A-Rod (2009 notwithstanding). Brett Favre and Tony Romo are always good for a late game pick-6. Same deal with horror movies. Usually the tripping is left for maximum drama towards the last scene or two of the movie. From a numbers standpoint, the nebbishy brunette is 7x more likely to trip on a tree root or rake than a male. Late movie brain farts are more likely to be made by the remaining guy (65% vs 35% for women). Physically the males hold up, but their dumb brains pickle in dicey moments. Women tend to have their heads screwed on straight with the overall strategy, but the execution goes wrong. They step on a rake and whack themselves in the head. They fall in a ditch and sprain an ankle. They slip on ice and fall face-first into a mud puddle. Some silly shit that costs them dearly. Guys get cocky and tough. They try to go one on one with the villain, but forget a weapon. They get so hare-brained that they grab a rubber veiny dildo and start flinging it around for the last hurrah. Ok I made that part up, but it is a funny mental picture isn't it? ISN'T IT? They overcompensate in the first half of the skirmish and then tucker out while a dagger gets plunged into their guts as they make the motion for a 15 second time out. Curtains. El fin.

Stupid meathead.
Ok that's the end of the post. These are some top themes that I think get overlooked in the multitude of internet horror movie analyses. Hope they've shed some new light on common threads. I leave you with this:

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