Literature: How to Survive a Horror Movie
You know the handy rules that Scream (1996)
provided us on surviving a horror movie? Well, somebody's expanded them into a whole book.How to Survive a Horror Movie: All the Skills to Dodge the Kills
is a book by horror lover Seth Grahame-Smith (of later Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
fame) that details what you should do in the event that you find yourself stuck in a horror movie. In it, you will learn how to perform an exorcism
, what to do if you did something last summer
, how to persuade the skeptical local sheriff
, how to kill a murderous doll
, how to survive an Alien Invasion
, what to do if you've been dead since the beginning of the movie
, how to defeat Satan
himself, and many other useful skills. It's divided into six chapters, each devoted to a particular subgenre: an introduction (how to tell that you're in a horror movie, and rules that apply across the genre), slashers
, evil inanimate objects, the undead (namely ghosts
and beasts, and finally, demonic
- Affectionate Parody: Of horror movies in general.
- Badly Battered Babysitter: The section "How to Survive a Night of Babysitting" is on how to avoid becoming this, telling how to vet the job before taking it to reduce the risk in the first place, and how to fortify the home just in case. Oh, and never pick up the phone.
- Black Dude Dies First: Two of the stock characters named in the first chapter are "The Black Guy Who Buys It 20 Minutes In" and "The Black Guy's Girlfriend Who Buys It 24 Minutes In".
- The Cameo: Wes Craven writes the foreword for the book, in which he apologizes to all of the disposable victims who have been killed off in his movies. A sample forms the page quote.
- Chainsaw Good: Highly recommended for fighting monsters.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: Investigating strange sounds is never a good idea.
- Dead All Along: The book has a very obvious way of testing whether or not this is you. Just ask very specific questions, not vague ones. To several people, not just one.
- Death by Sex: Subverted, believe it or not; it's only having sex in a car that will kill you.
- Defied Trope: The whole point of the book is to teach you how to do this.
- Don't Go in the Woods
- Everything Trying to Kill You
- Final Girl: Lampshaded, like so many other horror tropes.
- Genre Savvy: What this book is supposed to make you be. It points out dozens of horror movie clichés, tells you how to defy and subvert them, what to do if you do make that clichéd choice...
- Genre Shift: One of the "ejection seats" (quick escapes from the Terrorverse of horror movies) provided is to start acting as though you were in another movie, such as a wacky teen comedy, an artsy foreign film, a Merchant-Ivory work, or a kung fu movie.
- Hollywood Homely/Dawson Casting: If all of your friends look suspiciously like cast members from Smallville or Gilmore Girls, then your chances of death have just risen tenfold.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Characters that do this are referred to as "dual citizens". Very often, they're gas station attendants, homeless guys, or barflies. If this person starts talking about local urban legends or giving you a grisly lesson in local history (i.e. providing the audience with some backstory), that's your cue to run like hell.
- The Lost Woods
- Money, Dear Boy: How do you tell if you're in a sequel? One of the ways is that you have the oddest feeling that you're only here for the money.
- Perverse Puppet: The "How to Survive a Killer Doll" section, which says that being in a killer doll movie is like "winning the horror lottery." After all, if you're getting your ass kicked by a children's toy, then you were kind of screwed anyway, doll or no doll.
- Rage Against the Author: The books are basically a guide for how to escape from malicious horror writers who are trying to get you brutally murdered.
- Inverted in the preface, in which Wes Craven apologizes profusely to all the fictional characters he's killed off or terrorized in his films over the years.
- Recycled In Space: A horror movie set IN SPACE! is a sign of one of two things. On one hand, you could be in a crappy sequel to a slasher franchise that's jumped the shark, in which case you'll probably survive, since the writers are getting really lazy by this point. On the other hand, you could be in a big-budget alien monster movie, and with those high production values (usually) comes a better script than the average horror movie — and trickier, more inventive writers trying to kill you.
- Running Gag: About just how dangerous log cabins are.
- Russian Reversal: In a Haunted House, you don't gut the interior, the interior guts you.
- Satan: Defeated by way of Male Frontal Nudity, which doesn't exist in the Terrorverse. Therefore, showing your junk will instantly pull you out of a horror movie.
- Sci Fi Ghetto: Lampooned with regards to horror movies. See Wrong Genre Savvy.
- Self-Deprecation: The general low quality, low budgets, and clichéd writing that show up in many horror movies (especially slashers) are a frequent target of parody. One of the "ejection seats" is great, well-written dialogue, and another is fleeing to a location that's far too expensive for the cash-strapped producers of a horror movie to shoot in.
- Shout-Out: By the boatload, to just about every classic horror movie and to some not-so-classic ones. Some of the scenarios are Whole Plot References to Snakes on a Plane, Children of the Corn, The Sixth Sense, The Ring, and The Exorcist.
- Sorting Algorithm of Mortality
- Summer Campy: The most dangerous place to be in the Terrorverse is at a summer camp.
- Teens Are Monsters: Sometimes, if you're in a horror-movie high school, your classmates can be as much of a problem as the villain. There's also the answer to "My child slams doors, screams obscenities and says that he or she hates me" in the Is My Child Possessed section. It's "Nothing is wrong with your child." Nothing related to the plot of the horror movie, anyway...
- Tome of Eldritch Lore
- Wrong Genre Savvy: If you find yourself in a big-budget production (really?), then odds are good you're in a psychological thriller, not a horror movie. In which case, the only advice the book can offer is that your missing child probably never existed, and that your husband is the bad guy.
- Zombie Apocalypse: A very easy scenario to survive, with death at the hands of a zombie referred to as "the equivalent of a fighter jet being blown out of the sky by a Nerf dart."