1. Family Moves into Haunted House… I’m tired of seeing it everywhere, I really am. Paranormal Activity (series), Insidious, Sinister, I’ve never watched them. Just thinking about those sorts of plots bore me to death. The same three to four person family who moves into a house with some dark past is so overused it’s dull. Not every house has had a murder living there. Not every house is going to have a ghost or demon gaining experience points by convincing humans to kill each other. Besides, if I were a ghost I’d sneak into people’s room and watch live porn. For free! Here is what hearing voices sound like, it’s not pretty…
2. “Is Anyone Out There?”… Many apocalyptic movies work this way. It is an effective line and actually hard to avoid. On a cancelled zombie story I had written, the first line was, “Does anyone even remember their lives two months ago?” It didn’t work out as well as, “Is Anyone Out There?” because anything or anyone can be out there. There are so many unknown variables. If the monster is close and smart enough, it can trap our unfortunate hero. If a gang of marauders led by Tom Savini is nearby, well, the hero is screwed. Who knows, maybe the zombies get there first… Or, even better, another, sane human being is nearby and they decide to team up with the hero.
3. The Gas Station in the Middle of Nowhere, Oh and There Are Old Creepy Hicks… This is false. My family and I were on a trip to Roan Mountain here in North Carolina when we stopped by a gas station on the road. It was two stories, wooden, painted white and chipping in places from age. The door was mostly off its hinges. The people inside were kind and polite, happy to see us buy cold drinks on such a hot, lazy day. They owned cows which were very interested in my dog Annie, who we then proclaimed were the cows’ cousin- we have a funny picture of it somewhere. This is the beauty of Mom-and-Pop gas stations. It just works. On every long trip, the hero is going to need to fill up their car or else they’re stuck. While there they can get pieces of local history and warnings from old creepy men named Mordecai. The true greatness is the inevitability of stopping for gas.
4. Gosh, My Phone Service Sucks... This one is true, at least for the mountains. My family goes camping almost every year. If you try to call me, or I try to call someone else, I’m screwed. I’ve never been to the dessert so I can’t assess what goes on. Maybe you can contact aliens.
5. Freak Weather… In a few horror movies, especially a slasher, there is going to be some form of freak storm. I wouldn’t call the Jason X’s atmosphere fall weather but it was extreme. When both killer and hero can use the weather to their advantage somehow, it becomes a really good, really harrowing scene. Either could use wet ground, loose stones, or suddenly have the ability to see through blinding rain. One of the greatest scenes though is at the end of The Silence of the Lambs.