After a marathon horror movie watching weekend, I think I am on the edge of my own screenplay. Not that it seems difficult. Don’t get me wrong. I have been a horror/zombie/slasher movie junkie since cable TV happened.
I flip through TV time shift, only to stop on promising movie names which might sound like Hell and Below, Secluded island, Don’t look back, Don’t look back twice, Watchers (or weight watchers… or return of the killer weighing machines), anything with Lindsay Lohan or Diane Keaton in it. Or no. Wait. Just Lindsay Lohan.
But I digress. Just like romance films and their annoying little happy endings, horror movies have their own clichés. Here is a rough primer on how to write your own:
1. The hero’s family/girlfriend/children will never believe the existence of the zombies/ghosts/vengeful souls. Doesn’t matter if neighbours and pets are mysteriously turning up butchered in your bathroom or your doorstep, the family always says, “Honey, I think you need some help.” This is usually before the ghost literally slaps the daylights out of the girlfriend.
2. Pets always die first. Or the chesty neighbor.
3. Basements and attics are playpens of the evil. The first few scenes will have someone creep up the creaking stairs. The hallway bulb flickers and fades. Hand moves to turn a bright, shiny knob. Knob turns painfully slowly. “Michael! Where are you,” says chirpy voice from downstairs. “Be right down, honey!” Leaves door closed but turns back once to look at it.
4. The hero/heroine will always do one Google search. Or a trip down to the nearest newspaper archives to search for a 50-year-old murder case.
5. During the search, the local Sherriff will say, “Trust me sir, you should stay away from this. Nothing good will come out of this.”
6. Children will always sleep alone. Even if daggers are mysteriously flying out of drawers, neighbors are dying, basement doors are banging, kids need their nightmares.
7. The ghost always befriends/possesses the youngest member of the family first.
8. Rain on climax night. Always.