Throughout horror pop culture history, from the time of the classic monster age to the modern found footage, there were a library of both really great and really awful horror movies. Regardless of the quality from either horror flick, consistent horror warning cliches have arose where characters make dumb decisions that gets them killed when they could have just left and called the police. Of course, the majority of the characters in these movies die because they make choices that no breathing human being would ever make. In a way, that is the fun of horror movies so that when they premiere in theaters people can scream at the characters making the viewing experience more tangible. Here is a list of things I’ve learned to do or not do as a result of watching multiple horror films over the years.
1. Don’t go in there!
How many times have you watched a movie and a character see a figure moving into a dark room or hear creepy noises only to follow the sound, potentially leading them to their eventual doom? If you ever see a random figure you don’t recognize in your house or hear a noise you should, GET OUT OF THERE AND CALL THE POLICE! Stop waiting around for the demon or ghost to come and swoop you up for another meal, just bail and abandon the scenario. If you hear strange noises in your backyard or front yard lock your doors and don’t go outside. Also, never enter a seemingly abandoned house/psychiatric hospital/school/sewer/cemetery or whatever!
2. Stay home!
If a bunch of friends ask you to come with them for a weekend of alcohol, drugs, and sex to stay at a decrepit cabin in the middle of the woods, please say no! That weekend will just turn into a complete horror cliche, with each member of your friends being murdered off one by one. Be the smart one and stay alive by not even participating.
3. Don’t quote the book!
If you’re dumb enough to go with your screwball friends and happen to stumble upon a creepy book with spells, made of skin instead of paper, for the love of God do not open the book and why would you even say aloud the spells? You’re just asking for all of the undead spirits to rise from the earth to eat your soul.
4. Stay together!
If you ever find yourself in a horror movie scenario with a group of people, always stay together. We all know the person that says “I’ll be right back,” or “I’ll go check it out,” won’t ever return. The next time you see this person, their body will probably be hung up on the side of a wall with their guts out. Also, the person that leaves the group to take a leak never returns. Just pee in a cup moron.
5. Never volunteer!
Similar to staying together, if there is ever a situation where for some reason the group you’re in thinks that one person needs to do a dangerous job, such as crawl through a dark and creepy vent looking for a murderous life form or go outside into the evil void, don’t volunteer to go, don’t be a hero and especially express to the group how much of a dumb idea this is. Also, never partake in drawing straws.
6. Break in and no lights.
If you’re just coming home to an alone house and you find that your front door is open and the lights not turning on, then get back in your car as quickly as possible. Drive as far away as you can and then CALL THE POLICE! Why would anyone in their right mind enter the house, there’s a team of professional investigators and police to check for that.
7. Stop fighting each other!
Horror always like to spice up tension by pinning people in difficult scenarios who are most disrespectful to one another. While the dead is outside trying to make their way inside to eat the living, the characters keep yelling and bickering to a point that small fights arouse. Now is not the time to be killing each other, set your differences aside and burn these monsters to smithereens!
8. Ignore the call!
Normally when a person gets a call from a random number they ignore it, but in horror films normal common sense goes out the door, where they answer the call to have a full blown conversation in which they stay on the phone even after the person has made several violent threats. Hang up the phone and call the police! Don’t even answer it!
9. Refuse the seance.
How many times in horrors have someone bought or found an old Ouija board to then perform a botched seance, causing evil spirits to invade the abode or possess a human host? Too many times. If anyone asks you to join them in speaking with the dead, the answer should always be no. If they insist, just walk out.
10. Get out of the water!
If you know that you’re swimming in a body of water where there is a giant shark or killer sea life nearby, just don’t go in! Swim at your local pool instead. And if you are swimming while there is a giant sea monster attack, swim as fast as you can, get the f**k out of that water! Then call the army to nuke the monster to death.
11. Look where you’re running!
It’s a normal cliche in horror movies where the character is running away from the creature(s) and trips on a rock or log and falls down as if they’ve lost a limb. For all that is holy, please look at where you’re running so you don’t make this stupid mistake.
12. Car won’t start!
Another solid horror cliche is when the last remaining survivor(s) is escaping by attempting to drive away (this should be your first plan), or when a car won’t start in the middle of the desert. You should have another car with you and always carry jumper cables. Also, become a AAA member.
13. All tires are slashed!
Did you know that you can still get about one hundred yards on a flat tire before the tire is destroyed? Then how come whenever a character tries to escape and finds that their tires have been slashed they completely abandon that idea or try to push the car themselves? I don’t know, but next time drive as far away as you can from the site of evil and then get out, run and call the police when you immediately get a cellular signal.
14. Never pick-up a hitchhiker!
This is a big one. I find it funny how characters are so willing to pick up a random stranger off the side of the road. There’s a reason that person is alone, he probably massacred an entire group of people, maybe even several families, and then devoured their organs. Picking someone that has their thumb in the air and looks like they haven’t showered in a week will never end well. Fool me once, shame on the hitchhiker, fool me twice, shame on the idiot driver.
15. Stay close to civilization.
If you’re planning to either be a camper or camp counselor at a sleep-away camp or if someone offers you to stay at a creepy hotel for several months without communication from the outside world, then it’s probably not worth going. You don’t need that headache. Live or stay in a place where there are a lot of people so if you need emergency help, they can arrive at a moments notice.
16. Turn off your devices.
If you need to stealth your way out of a scary situation, make sure to turn off your phone or tablet so that when someone tries to call you, the cannibals won’t spot your location thus forfeiting your life over to the evildoers. This includes your television if it starts acting all paranormal. If there is an entity trying to get through the TV, then shut off the TV and then toss it out the window or balcony. You can then buy a new TV at a local Wal-Mart on sale.
17. Double tap!
Actor Jesse Eisenberg from Zombieland and actor Jamie Kennedy from Scream franchise said it best when they described how the monster will always resurrect after you think it’s dead. Make sure to either shoot it in the head, stab it in the heart, completely decapitate it, kill it with fire, or blow it up before being calm enough to take a minute of hero defeating villain. Make sure it’s dead even if it seems like overkill.
19. Never join/visit a cult.
Please notice the signs of when you’re in a cult, like if the people creepily worship a random person or symbol, if there are animal/human sacrifices, or if there are strict punishable rules to follow. Don’t drink the blood and especially never drink the spiked Kool-Aid. If you find yourself in a cult, get out and leave the state, never looking back.
18. Never own creepy things.
Why would anyone want to keep a cursed or serial killing doll in their house? Why would anyone have a creepy clown toy staring at them during the night? This logic is beyond me, but having these creepy elements of toys or figurines is just asking for trouble. One of these days those dolls, toys, or figurines will begin walking and when they do they’ll take you by surprise and your history. How can anyone sleep with those old dolls on the shelf that seem to stare through your soul or a derelict looking voodoo doll? Replace your house with nicer friendly things to play or observe.
19. Say no to the house with a history.
If you’re looking for a new house to move into or an apartment and you ask, “For a big house, the price is low,” if the realtor says, “Apparently, the last owners or first owners died in this house.” Just say, “No thank you,” and walk out. And buying a house on an ancient burial ground is a giant NO. I don’t understand why anyone would. You don’t need the stress of living in a haunted house, because just living this horrible existence we create for ourselves is scary enough.
20 Arm yourself.
Normally, I am not a huge fan of guns, but in a horror film scenario, you need to arm yourself, it can be any tool you find lying around in your house from a guitar, baseball bat, kitchen knife, Fire Axe, extinguisher, M-60, rocket launcher, etc. And if you don’t have a weapon then train your body to become a weapon with fists of fury like Bruce Lee and deadly cannonball kicks like Jean-Claude Van Damme. Also, if you’re dumb enough to enter a horde of decaying corpses, don’t run in their with a t-shirt and shorts, wear thick armor where a bite cannot penetrate the skin.
21. Ignore friend request.
If you ever get an online random friend request from someone you don’t know or someone you’ve seen, but is very odd and creepy in person, don’t accept the friend request and just click DELETE or IGNORE. Chances are this person is either a catfish trying to hack your account or a demonic ghostly witch from the hell dimension.
22. Don’t hesitate!
If you come in direct contact with a demonic apparition, a monstrous ghoul, or if one of your family members/friends joins the evil brigade, don’t stare like a deer in headlights, either RUN and escape as fast as you can or kill it. As they say, curiosity killed the cat.
23. Never take the shorter route.
Characters traveling sometimes begin the story making good decisions until something happens and they decide to abandon their brain by taking the road less traveled. Yeah, but it’s a quicker way if we go off the beaten path where we will get lost and potentially eaten by a hungry monster. Stay on the normal route even if it takes much longer.
24. Seek therapy.
If you think you’re going crazy like hearing voices, hallucinating weird images, have a desire to harm your family or setting up a noose and gallows for no reason while your place is not haunted then you should probably talk to a psychologist/psychiatrist and maybe even take medication. Also, if a significant loved one passed away and your experiencing these phenomenons, get treatment. If it’s the ghost of your dead relative trying to communicate with you, GET THE F**K OUT OF THERE!
25. Think quickly, but survey the environment.
If you’re caught in a timed trap for your life, analyze your environment and then make a quick and bold decision. A lot of times characters makes decisions on a whim causing another character to die or their own torso to be chopped off.
27. Reject unknown invitations.
This covers a lot of areas in horror tropes. The main character gets a strange invite to be a part of some celebration in which they automatically go without doing any prior research on the place. Then when they go, they become part of some twisted game or if they invite an unknown person into their home, it could turn out to be a blood sucker!
28. Tell off your neighbor.
If you have a nosy neighbor, or a neighbor who is overly in your space, a new friend asking you to extremely go out of your comfortable zone, then tell them to bugger off. They’re probably part of some secret coven or are a severely mentally ill person with Borderline Personality Disorder. Call 9-1-1 if they continue to invade your privacy.
29. Trust your pets.
If you’re dog is ferociously barking or your cat is snickering at air, don’t ignore the dog or cat, take that as an emergency that you need to high tailor out of there. Clearly that isn’t air, but some evil entity about to strike. Most animals have a greater ability of detecting things that humans cannot. So many times the pet owners will put their animals back in a kennel or cage in which the character then gets ambushed with a death by jump scare. Did you ever watch Lassie? Now those are some trusting dog owners.
30. Don’t risk your life for your pets.
This is always hard to understand, because studies have shown that people feel worse when they lose a pet over a person. Most of the time in horror movies the animal will out live the humans and so it’s not worth risking your life and the lives of your crew to save a little animal, especially when the human race is on the line. If your little animal decides to bite the dust then that should be a sign to get out of there!
31. Believe your children.
If one of your children begin drawing images of a creepy looking imaginary friend or complains of a monster in their closet, as the parent, do not be so keen on dismissing their concerns, they might just be right or are seeing with an extra sense. Multiple crayon drawings of a scary creature should be a sign to address the issues.
32. Avoid secluded outings.
Anytime a group of people either journey into an undiscovered location like an area of an exotic jungle, the woods, caves, valleys, mountains, catacombs, etc. your just asking for the grave unexpected. If you want to hang out with your athletic friends then play a game of soccer at a local field, play a game of baseball, or use the rock climbing wall at the gym. Heck, go to a bar and a have a few drinks after.
33. Avoid the country.
This pertains to any area in the deep south, farms and cornfields in the mid-west, the desert, or the countryside in Ireland. In these open spaces you’re more than likely to run into some wild and psychopathic locals even hillbillies who will stop at nothing to either eat your flesh or kill you and make a puppet or artwork from your body parts. Or you will encounter witches who will either possess your body or place a hex on you.
34. Don’t ignore your premonitions!
Rarely would anyone have a premonition of some future event. However, in horror it seems to happen to often. Characters to get killed off ignore these visions and then live their horrid fate while the main character wrestles with the idea. If you’re super aware of some horrible tragedy to occur, be loud, cause a scene, try to get people out, and definitely save yourself. Prepare for a way you can create a positive future where you live.
35. Hiding places.
If you cannot run and need to hide, don’t hide in the barn or shed full of chainsaws, machetes, and pitchforks. Don’t hide under a bed, in a closet, or behind a door. That is where the killer is and will easily find you. If you’re going to hide, hide in a space where there are multiple layers or levels of hard to reach spaces. And when you’re hiding, shut your damn mouth and be quiet. Though, you’re better off outside with a group of survivors armed and ready to defend yourself.
36. Trap the teleporter.
If a monster you’re encountering happens to phase in and out of exist, for example, when a person is running away from the evil and then it reappears in front of them, or somehow walks faster than you run, trap them in a small contained area where you can then perform double tap with your crew of survivors, send the evil back to its dimension through a portal, or reenact it’s original death.
37. Never go in your attic/basement.
Why does everyone always do this? A scary ghost is haunting a family and eventually they go down into the dark and foreboding basement or attic. Just don’t do it, LEAVE YOUR HOUSE! And avoid the attic because you will most likely find creepy things like an old home video tape.
38. Always check the back seat.
This one is in line with an urban legend, when you leave from work late at night in an empty parking lot and you’re alone, please check the back of the car seat. You don’t want to be driving and then all of a sudden some masked man tries to choke you or stabs you through the driver’s seat when you’re not paying attention.
39. Don’t watch the snuff film.
Many times, you have characters in a movie who find old footage of either the filming of a massacre or just a creepy video. This will lead to a house haunting which will eventually lead to death. Here’s some good advice, don’t watch those videos and leave them in your creepy attic.
40. Wear a mask.
If your in close proximity to someone with a deadly and contagious virus or disease, please wear a mask and quarantine that person. You don’t want to get infected with the same deadly virus and then spread it further causing an epidemic of biblical proportions. You’d also wear a bio-hazard mask if you were working with diseases that could create the zombie virus.
41. Keep a well lit house.
If you’re sleeping through the night and hear strange noises or see odd figures moving within the shadows turn on all of the lights and arm yourself. Call the police. If the lights flicker off then GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!
42. Find a well fortified and secure location to stay.
If you ever need to relocate due to a rising apocalypse, find a location with a group of survivors that is well fortified, clean, has plenty of food, and weaponry to defend. Don’t stay at your neighbor’s house, that tiny structure will be overrun in no time.
43. Never be drunk, drugged, or vulnerable.
So many times during these teen horror flicks characters get killed off while they’re intoxicated or high. Or when they’re taking a bath, showering, or having sex. This is when the evildoer can quickly slip in and deliver a killing blow. Always be on your guard and stay sober. Abstinence and virginity are the ultimate survival tools.
44. Don’t look!
Curiosity though a very human trait, will kill us in the event of a horror episode. If a mythical beast like Medusa is said to kill you instantly by looking at it, DON’T LOOK AT IT like an idiot, take a mirror to see or just casually walk out of the environment while closing your eyes, heck, put your hands over your eyes if that makes it easier. This isn’t rocket science.
45. Don’t reject the prophecies.
Prophecies and foreshadowing are usually warnings of what is to occur, never is it a positive outcome in horror movies. Make sure that the evil don’t make you give birth to a demonic offspring or make you perform some messed up sacrifice. Do what you can to know everything about the enemy through old scrolled text and the internet. Just avoid the dark web. Through this knowledge you will find it’s weakness and how to neutralize it. Knowing is half the battle.
46. Listen to the priest.
When it comes to horror movies, the priests always seem to know how to defeat the monsters. Follow their guidance whether it’s to perform an exorcism, kill an evil demonic child, make silver ammunition against werewolves, or crosses and crossbows for vampires, reading an Egyptian death scroll for mummies, equipping shotguns to destroy zombies’ brains, or using torches and flamethrowers to destroy the Frankenstein monster . They’re surprisingly the most knowledgeable ones even if they don’t survive in the end. They can even bless away the evil spirits from your haunted house.
47. Stop saying one liners!
When the main character in a horror movie seems to have the upper hand over the evildoer they begin to gain a sense of false hope and get cocky. That’s when all the cheesy one liners come in. This gives time for the killer to retaliate. Now is not the time to deliver a dumb one liner in the middle of a horrific incident. You’re wasting precious time!
48. Never be inside a haunted house.
Once you’re in a cliched haunted house it’s difficult to get out. If there are rumors of people dying or people never being seen again who entered, just don’t go! And if you start seeing objects moving for no reason in a house or your house, then GET THE F**K OUT OF THERE!
49. Call 9-1-1!
This should be the first thing anyone should do in a horror cliche situation. Not enough are the characters calling the police. They either wait until it’s too late or they think the cops won’t believe them, regardless notify the Five-O and soon as possible.
This should be the number one goal of anyone caught in a horror cliche incident, try and get out as fast and as safe as possible. The average human being will likely not be able to face up against the evildoers in horror movies: they’re too strong, unpredictable, and NEVER die. Also, always have someone from TSA on your side.
What do you think of this list? If there are other horror cliches you can think of, add them in the comment section below. Here to make sure good always conquers evil.
If you enjoyed this and would like to read more from Anthony, check out his novel ‘Stay Awhile’ on Amazon amazon.com/Stay-Awhile.