It’s officially October! Pumpkin spice lattes can be drunk without fanfare, chunky sweaters can be worn without getting weird looks, and there are officially Christmas decorations in Costco. With Halloween right around the corner, the best fall tradition to take part in is the horror movie marathon. Though some people like terrifying themselves to the point of bedwetting, and others would rather stick with Disney Channel’s Halloweentown movies, a proper horror movie marathon leaves everyone feeling satisfied—not only because it’s easy to snuggle when something scary is playing, but because most horror movies, once you get past the gore and sheer terror, are really funny. (Note: This does NOT apply to J-horror films. Those are always terrifying.) Here are 9 scary-funny horror movie tropes to watch out for:
1. Characters Deliberately Walking Into and Staying In an Obviously Dangerous Place
It doesn’t matter if it’s an abandoned amusement park, a campsite built near a correctional facility, or a ranch haunted by vengeful cowboys: people are still gonna go. Despite obvious signs that they should pack up and high tail it out of there, the characters are determined to stay until they all end up dead.
2. Ankle Drag and Desperate Clawing of the Ground
It seems that monsters and murderers only ever manage to grab and hold onto people’s ankles. The flailing, kicking, and screaming that follows can only be matched by the pyrotechnics of a two-year-old who isn’t getting the candy bar he wants in the grocery store checkout line.
3. The “Funny” Character Who Only Tells Terrible Jokes
There’s always one character that's written strictly for "comic relief"—but whose jokes make you groan and hope he dies first. His unvaried use of puns and poorly set-up funnies make you wish you could skip ahead to the point when the lights go out and his head gets ripped off, after his last, doomed bit about “everyone running around like a headless chicken.”
4. Music that Scares You More Than the Movie
Without the eerie soundtrack, horror movies would be nothing. Sure, it’s a little frightening to watch someone walk down a dark hallway, but knowing that the murderer is at the end of it holding a meat cleaver, just because a certain song is playing? That’s movie magic.
5. Classic Monsters
Zombies, werewolves, vampires, swamp things, sentient goo, and 50-foot anything are a guaranteed good time, and way less freaky than dealing with psycho killers that leave you sleeping with one eye open.
6. Makeshift Weaponry of Dubious Usefulness
The greatest part about fighting for your life is that typical standards go out the window. People in movies tend to grab the first thing that helps them prepare to deal with whatever paranormal spookiness is out to get them. The best part about that is watching someone wave a rusted-over spatula in the face of a soul-eating ghost. It’s a final act of defiance at its best.
7. When the Girl/Guy Who Warned Everyone is the Last to Die
As everyone gets split up and picked off one by one, this girl (it’s usually a girl) becomes the last one standing. It kind of sucks for her, though, because she never does get to say, “I told you so.”
8. Getting Lost
Usually something forces the protagonists into the way of danger, like a flat tire, empty gas tank, or 3 a.m. craving for ribs. Whatever it is, the group of attractive (there's another trope: THEY'RE ALWAYS ATTRACTIVE) teenagers finds themselves completely lost, with no cell service or GPS to find their way home. Ridiculous things start to go wrong, and they finally come to the conclusion that the death trap house they've stumbled upon is way safer than tramping around in the dark. They basically deliver themselves to the killer(s) like takeout.
9. “Based on a True Story”
It never really is, but it definitely makes it scarier.
What's your favorite predictable horror-movie plot point?