Blog #25 Horror Tropes

I’ve had some time off and like any well-adjusted, fully grown man I spent it indulging in a horror marathon. When you dip in and out of a genre, you can appreciate the broad strokes but it can be good to get really into a proper binging session.

I couldn’t help but notice a few characters and plot devices though that always come up. Nothing wrong with that, archetypes are there because they are recognisable and a smart writer can use that to their advantage.

I wanted to share some of the more consistently used tropes I came across though.

Evil Hillbillies

“People learn things from horror movies…like Texas chainsaw massacre teaches teenagers Texas must be avoided at all costs,” – Carl, Aqua Teen Hunger Force

So having been born in and rarely leaving Scotland in the UK I don’t pretend to know American culture very well. My understanding is mainly based on fictional portrayals which may or may not be accurate.

But good grief, even I know hillbillies are portrayed in a negative light. They are all cannibals, murders, violent, corrupt. Maybe I just picked a bad selection of movies for portraying it but it was a barrage of these characters.

Surely there can be some kind Beverly hillbillies types in there somewhere. Well done to Tucker and Dale versus Evil for inverting it, really well done and long overdue.

Priest tries to help- and dies

Well I suppose he could maybe conduct his own last rites before he bites the dust.

Ghost movies and possessed item of choice are full of this. They get a priest who is usually a character I really like, he tries to help and almost always dies. Of course, they help, and might even do something that saves the day but if they walk away from it alive at the end, I will be shocked.

Moral messages

I actually find a lot of morality in horror movies. Stark, brutal, brothers Grimm style morality but it is there. The insufferable jackass in the group usually gets a particularly brutal DEATH. The misbehaving teens die. The corrupt mayor/police chief/ teacher die as well. The loan shark and corrupt insurance brokers are put in a lethal death trap.

Again, it is quite a stark morality, not saying it is one I want to see implemented (unless I am in a particularly nihilistic mood), but it is there- and it is one of the reasons I enjoy horror.

Everyone cheats

This ties into the last one a bit because the cheaters almost always die. People in the horror movies universe do seem to enjoy a bit on the side. The newest Chucky movie twisted it a bit in that the affair was between the maid and a mother. Haha gender equality I suppose, we can all be scumbags, regardless of the tools we have.

The comic relief never is

Comedy in horror movies often arises from shocked absurdism. Wow, the killer beat him to death with a plastic flamingo, what the hell!? Characters who are intended to be the comic relief never are. Honestly, I watched dozens of horror films and have never once seen a comedic character work.

I long for the day when there can be a genuinely funny character in a horror movie (note that I am discounting the genre of comedy horror like Sean of the dead, Hot Fuzz, Severance etc).


After all that horror, death and blood think I need to watch some comedies! Better ease into it first with Goosebumps, not totally detached with horror, and a glass of wine with my fiancée.

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