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Spring Loaded Corpse
"Oh but this totally happens all the time, you wouldn't believe the amount of times I've seen dead bodies flop on the floor like that at work. They just fly out, they got like, rocket fuel stuffed up their ass. They go: "Whee! I'm dead! Kaboom!"

Almost a staple of the horror genre, this is when a character picks up an item next to or walk near a corpse, which then decides to suddenly come back to life and attack. The effectiveness of this scare technique tends to be inversely related to how many times it is used. Too many times, and players tend to fire a few rounds into every so-called 'corpse' they see, or the audience becomes jaded to the overused scare.

Commonly found in the Zombie Apocalypse, because what else is going to raise a corpse from the dead? Contrast with Zombie Infectee, where there's a chance of this happening but with a living person.

Related to Playing Possum, which is typically used outside of a horror context.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Video Games 
  • Dead Space tends to do this ad nauseum. It gets predictable after a while. Players tend to dismember every corpse they come across.
    • There's even a particular monster that has this as a power it can give to corpses.
    • To avoid wasting ammo, you can use kinesis on each corpse instead of a weapon. If you can't move the body, then it is spring loaded.
    • Of course, the necromorphs get Genre Savvy on harder difficulties, they'll attack you, then fake dying when shot, only to attack when you go to loot them.
    • A large portion of, if not all necromorphs also have very distinctive character models when compared to plain old corpses. If it has clothes, it is probably safe.
  • Many, many, many Survival Horror games.
  • Resident Evil tends to do this throughout with generic zombies, but there are specific examples below.
    • Used in Resident Evil 5, most notably in stage 6-2, where a hallway of dead enemies suddenly come back to life.
      • Experienced players can however spot the thread, as the "dead" enemies' stun rods are still active. A similar case occurs with the Chainsaw Majini, who will sometimes play possum when you damage them enough. If they aren't actually dead, their chainsaw will still be running.
    • In Resident Evil, the corpse of Forrest, who comes back from the dead when you pick up a nearby grenade launcher, and the Crimsom Heads from REmake, which are normal zombies coming back after you kill them and leave them for a while (unless you destroy the corpses with fire or a headshot).
    • The first Regenerator you find in 4 (you see a corpse covered by a blanket on a table, walk into a nearby room, which even contains a report on the creatures and pick up a key...)
  • Used with the headcrab zombies in the Half-Life series.
  • Penumbra: Black Plague has this near the end of the game. A mutated corpse is lying on a table while you mix up an antidote to the virus infecting you. Once you take the antidote, the virus infects the body on the table and attacks
  • Clive Barker's Jericho does this once, when Lichthammer, a female undead Nazi officer possesses a dead body and grabs your character. Combines it with Press X to Not Die.
  • This happens sometimes with enemies in Kuon, who will spontaneously come back to life and start attacking if you're not careful. Hint: the most effective way to make sure they're truly dead is to step on them.
  • A version of this occurs in Bioshock with Sander Cohen. His 'art' is actually corpses cast in plaster, which is creepy enough in itself in that they bleed when you strike them. However at some point "statues" you've seen throughout disappear and the splicers inside attack you.
    • Later in the game, Splicers start playing dead and attacking when you get too close.
    • The Minerva's Den DLC has Splicers encased in ice, some of which will break free and attack when you get too close.
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, enemy zombies and harmless corpses in the scenery use basically the same models and textures, but you'll always find zombies in their animate state. That is, until the Expansion Pack came along, and the developers started using the similarity to their advantage in some dungeons with zombies that don't get up and attack you until you get close.. It's almost certain to scare the shit out of you the first time it happens.
    • In Skyrim, some Draugr lying in the alcoves of tombs are animate, and some are just lootable corpses; ideally the only way to tell the difference would be with a Detect Life/Detect Dead spell. However, the animate ones look noticeably different and don't offer a "Search" interaction when you examine them, which means by the time you're encountering high-level Draugr you won't be falling for the trap any more.
  • In Manhunt a bodybag is in the asylum next to some painkillers, if approached the bodybag shoots upright before sinking back down, it turns out it really was spring loaded.
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has Samus exploring a GFMC base that is filled with Marines corpses. Once Samus activates a device at one end of the base, Ing start possessing the bodies, which Samus must destroy.
  • Avernum has a number of scripted events where getting near to or examining bodies will spawn undead creatures to attack you.
  • Played with in the hands-on demo of ZombiU. During a dramatic horror buildup players notice a corpse lying in the corner. Players, anticipating it being spring-loaded and focusing on it instead of their surroundings, are shocked when a screaming zombie jumps out of a seemingly innocent locker next to them.
  • Similar to the Bioshock example, Condemned Criminal Origins has the mannequins in the department store. Some of them actually are mannequins, some of them are enemies who are just waiting for the right moment to attack you. Of course, if you just go through whacking everything out of pure fear...

    Anime and Manga 
  • Subverted, and also played somewhat literally in Uzumaki. In one of the more odd chapters, not entirely focused around spirals, a young man has a habit for leaping out of nowhere to scare people. In the end, his habits get him run over by a car. After he's dead and buried, he surprises the main character by leaping out of his grave, but he is, in fact, actually dead, and his leaping is a product of a spring from the car that got lodged into his body as he died. Well, maybe.

    Film 
  • Used in many horror movies, more prevalent in the B-movies of the genre.
    • Happens at the start of Zombieland to illustrate the main character's point during his lecture about the importance of making sure a zombie is dead.
  • Happens a lot in the climax of Poltergeist, particularly when the Freelings' backyard starts disgorging en masse the corpses that had been left behind when the cemetaries were moved. They're not zombies, though - just anger props for the spirits.
  • Invoked in The Castle of Cagliostro, with an apparently slumbering Lupin and Zenigata turning out to be skeletons clad in their suits that jump up and surprise some would-be assassins. However, rather than being reanimated, these corpses are merely on wires.

    Live Action Television 
  • An episode of The Greatest American Hero had a murder victim literally pop back to motion, reanimated by the same aliens that gave Ralph his suit. He didn't attack anyone, though, just delivered a message to Ralph and Bill.
  • done by the cannibal corpse in episode 7x09 of Supernatural
  • Happens to Hershel in the third season premiere of The Walking Dead
  • The Cryptkeeper does this in the opening of Tales from the Crypt.


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