6 Magically Stupid Scenes Scary Movies Never Show You
Being a horror monster is a lot like being a small-town cop -- there are lots of boring lulls mixed with brief moments of intense violence. Also, both occupations disproportionately target minorities. But when they aren't murdering people, surely the dwellers of nightmares have to do something in their downtime, right? Whether it's the Jaws shark idly swimming around Amity or Leatherface taking a dump, there's a hilarity that comes with imagining your favorite horror villains when they're off the murder clock. And boy does this apply more to some than others ...
Ghosts And Demons Would Be Hilarious If You Could See Them
While invisible to the naked eye, movie spirits usually occupy a physical space. Whether they appear as their former selves or as some inky entity, demons and ghosts always remain intact in the transcendent realm. They still have to travel from A to B, preferably knocking shit over as they go:
Side theory: All ghosts are part cat.
That's from a scene in The Conjuring, which features a physical (albeit teleporting) demonic presence. Here it is again fucking with a family's laundry routine:
"Ghost in a bed sheet, really? Try conjuring new material, you ethereal hack."
And here it is grabbing a girl by her hair and pulling her across the room like a troubled child's teddy bear:
"Can you drag her by the kitchen? I spilled some wine earlier."
She's only released when one of the adults takes a pair of scissors to her hair, meaning that this is indeed a physical grasp. I keep stressing that the phantom physically exists because when you think about it, that's fucking hilarious.
Imagine for a second these same scenes, only you could see the demon. Imagine the hellish creature sauntering up to a crucifix and knocking it down like a cat. Really picture this otherworldly entity slowly grabbing that girl's hair and running as fast as it can around the room. Just having a whale of a time.
This applies to every ghost movie: mentally insert the specter into any shot, happily running around the premises to set up its next big jump scare. And they are having a blast, you guys. Ghosts certainly are scary and vengeful, but they're also bored out of their minds. For every terrifying nightly haunt, there are like 23 other hours when they're presumably sitting around thinking of spooky shit to do. Every horrified mortal face is the highlight of their day.
Granted, I've never been dead, so I don't know for sure. But in the world of horror, almost every ghost is primarily motivated by trying to not be a ghost. This makes me suspect that being a ghost sucks. Most of the time, you're either reliving your death or talking to some annoying psychic child. In the case of a film like Stir Of Echoes, the first scene features an invisible ghost lady carrying out a delightful conversation with a bathing child.
Which is plain inappropriate in real or after life.
We never see the ghost, presumably because we'd also see how goddamn bored she is making small talk with a naked stranger. In The Conjuring 2, an old '70s ghost man literally has to fight over the TV remote with the girl he's haunting.
"I am the Ghost of Matlocks Past."
Because when you're dead, all you have to work with is the shit mortals bring into the house. In Paranormal Activity, the insufferable homeowner sets up a Ouija board in an effort to catch the demon in action. He gets this on camera:
"I'm not using my hands ..."
Like The Conjuring, the Paranormal Activity confirms the demon takes a physical form -- which in that scene is definitely hunched over a board game pushing around a plastic slab for the sheer fuck of it. But I guess really anything is better compared to the nights it's spent obsessively closing doors and arranging furniture like a cloaked Howard Hughes.
Body Snatchers Are Total Weirdos When Left To Their Own Devices
Body-stealing aliens have become their own sub-genre at this point. Some classics include The Thing, Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, and that one where Jean Grey and the T-1000 try to kill Frodo. You know the one. Jon Stewart was also there until he got his fingers cut off.
It sure seems like we're fundamentally terrified of being secretly replaced from the inside out, and that fear has blinded us to how deeply silly that premise would be if really carried out. Why is it silly? Because the aliens always assume our exact identity, acting out our jobs and relationships like an extraterrestrial game of house. And if that's the case, what exactly does the endgame look like? Like, if the pod people won, what would they do next? Continue to act like us?
Take the 2007 Body Snatchers remake The Invasion, and the scenes wherein Nicole Kidman has tricked the pod people into thinking that she is one of them. We totally see the people-fillers going about their day as if nothing has changed (sans emotions). There are pod children at the playground ...
... and a pod family having a polite pod dinner with each other ...
Remember, the aliens in these scenes think that they are exclusively amongst their own kind, and continue to mimic the social habits of their human husks. So it stands to reason that they would merely continue to do that if they won, right? OK, maybe they're waiting for everyone to be assimilated. But then what if there are a few small holdouts, or they are stuck on an island? What would the aliens in The Thing do if they had taken over that Antarctic base and couldn't fix their ship? Would they have resumed their hosts' lives until the next helicopter arrived? Would Alien Kurt Russell go back to getting hammered and playing PC chess?
That dinner moment in The Invasion also raises a weirder question, thanks to what's seen on the TV behind them:
We find out that world peace was declared because the pod people went after the most powerful first and continued to do their jobs for them. And by that logic, this has to include news anchors and late-night entertainment, right? Was there a pod person Jimmy Kimmel hosting "Celebrities Read Neutral Tweets"? Was David Letterman giving opening monologues about how everyone in the audience should let him spit green in their mouths? What about the film industry? Was pod person James Cameron shooting a rewritten Avatar in which all the humans successfully beam their brains into the indigenous Na'vi? It couldn't be any worse than what we got.
Jigsaw Has To Spend Hours Making Sinister Tapes And Videos
OK, we can all agree that the old cancer man behind Jigsaw is quite the engineering hobbyist. No doubt the "reverse bear trap" from the first movie caused more than one awkward Home Depot encounter. It's something we're willing to accept in order to enjoy this delightful series of Willy Wonka snuff scenarios. But has anyone stopped to consider the seven whole minutes' worth of tape recording that went into just the first Saw film? Jigsaw rarely approaches people face-to-face, opting to either speak through audio or video tapes and occasionally appearing as a big-wheel-riding vaudeville prop.
"Eh, it's better than the awful blackface sketches my 1920s owner had me do."
That's from the recording accompanying the aforementioned bear trap scene, and somewhere outside of that shot is an elderly man putting on a puppet show. He's crouched beside the camera working the little mechanical mouth while growling into a microphone. Just really enjoying retirement. And so we're clear, the gravely voice heard on the records is not this character's actual voice when we meet him in person. That means he's absolutely pulling a Batman. He picked that voice out and practiced it in the mirror.
Hey, how many takes do you suppose he needed to shoot that video? Are there Jigsaw outtakes where he doesn't quite get the puppet to move right or starts coughing from doing the voice? When does he find time to make all the recordings? Does he do them as he goes, or shoot them all at once? Can't you imagine him sitting at the kitchen table doing death monologues into a pile of recorders while drinking peppermint tea with honey? How many times did he have to start over when a car drove by or a radiator turned on and ruined the background ambiance?
The one time I do recall the series showing him record a tape is in Saw IV, when his autopsy reveals a wax-covered cassette tape in his tummy.
Spoiler: The entire was guerrilla marketing for his dope-ass mixtape.
And if there's any doubt how it got there, we get treated to a flashback seeing him swallow the fucking thing like a potato chip.
"Eh, it's better than swallowing the awful dialog my screenwriter has me do."
What we don't see is the 20+ attempts that must have gone into that. I mean, have you ever tried to swallow something the size of a Zippo lighter? It's not exactly one-and-done. This reveal clearly omitted a whole sequence wherein the geriatric killer quietly chokes on a brick of wax for at least ten minutes before tearfully forcing it down his wrinkled food hole. Good thing he died, or else he'd be shitting that out and starting all over again.
Jason's Friday The 13th Shack Raises All Kinds Of Silly Questions
Friend and fellow editor Thomas Bryce Reimann once said that Jason Voorhees is undoubtedly the "best physical comedian of our time," and that I should "stop fucking lying" about his middle name. TBR is right in at least one of those statements, as even the early Friday films paint Jason as a hilarious moose-man stumbling from one pool of blood to the next like a malfunctioning Terminator. And probably the best comedic revelation is when we get to see where Jason has been living this whole time.
"If you like it, see my listing on Airbnb."
Welcome to Jason's shack, a place of repose and contemplation between full-armed machete swings into beatnik torsos. This is where the true magic happens. And by "magic," I obviously mean this:
Note the humble curtain between his living abode and dumping nook. Now, there's clearly a bit to unpack, but the most pressing concern is: Who the hell built this? It's clearly not an abandoned cabin, as the outside is made up of various debris cobbled together to form a structure. The obvious answer is that Jason lovingly crafted it himself over the years wandering the camp, going so far as to drag a toilet through the woods.
But notice how said toilet appears to have water in it? That implies it has plumbing. Not campsite latrine plumbing, but actual pipes and shit (no pun). Option two is that Jason keeps a supply of water to pour down the hole after he's done his business. And option three is that Jason doesn't even use it as a toilet, and simply likes to keep water in it. I don't know if you've noticed, but every option is hilarious.
And we haven't even gotten to the question of what Jason does in there. Keep in mind, this character doesn't become an immortal zombie until the fourth film. Until then he's a living, breathing, eating man. And he lives in a shed that is mostly barren except for a toilet and shrine to his mother's decapitated head.
Are those candles? Is he taking trips to buy candles?
What has he been doing all the time he wasn't murdering teenagers? Fishing? Does he keep squirrels as pets? Is he an avid whittler? Or is it possible that the shack we see is only his summer shrine, and he also has a nice apartment upstate? What makes it wonderful is that there are no wrong answers here, because Jason is 100 percent ridiculous in any scenario where he's not impaling Kevin Bacon.
The Predator Aliens Are Nothing But Stupid Trophy Hunters In A Larger Society
It's easy to forget that the first Predator film doesn't reveal the creature's crab-ass mug until the final scenes. Until then, he could be a dude, for all we know.
Look at that roiling mess. It looks like Satan's butthole, and sounds like it too, as the Predator only communicates in a series of screeches and rage gestures. As the movies progressed into a handful of terrible sequels, it became clear that the single Predator in the first film was no fluke -- everyone in their society of space-travelling hunters look and act like this.
You should see their toilets.
So let's think about that for a second, because the one thing we do know right away is that these creatures are highly advanced in space travel. In later movies, we get to see the inside of a ship, and even their home planet. It's a whole advanced Star Trek civilization, built by the same grunting murder monsters established in the original film. Let's compare that to our own society achieving space travel. For NASA to exist, we needed scientists and engineers. We also needed to live in a culture where you could comfortably have such an occupation, meaning that farmers, police, sanitation workers, office employees, and computer programmers had to exist. And so it stands to reason that Predator aliens also have those things in order to get so advanced. And since that kind of society couldn't last without amusement, they likely have entertainment and ghastly sporting events as well.
Imagine that for a moment. Imagine a Predator garbage collector grunting through his day until going home to his family of arthropod nightmares. Really picture a Predator alien sitting at some Klingon-looking desk designing a rocket engine, or a nerd Predator staying up late to code.
"I could be at home having sex with that hot Klingon I've been talking to on Spacr, but noooo ..."
When you realize that they are an organized society, it becomes clear that the handful of Predators we see in the film are likely the outliers. In fact, when you think about it, they sure seem like the alien equivalent of the trophy hunters we all love to hate. They aren't hunting to eat, and come sporting an insane amount of high-tech overkill, most of time still failing to live through their hunts. In other words, they are the Eric Trumps of space. The rich dentists mounting skulls on their office walls, bragging about the time they bagged a human while invisible and firing shoulder lasers from a tree canopy. What a bunch of fucking jokes.
The Killers In Scream Are Experts In Theatrics 512
Scream is arguably the best verb-titled horror film of all time, if not in the top five along with Creep, Slither, Mimic, and ... I dunno, let's go with Wolf, even though I'm pretty sure it was meant to be read as a noun. Since the first film set the standard, the killer in each sequel has usually been two people, as the Ghostface character always seems to have supernatural speed to make up for his drunk linebacker method of chase.
But in order to achieve that spook show execution, what we never see is the exhausting rush that comes with perpetually popping out in strange places. Not to mention the killers' ability to constantly change in and out of costume to establish an alibi. When you rewatch this series and think about what must have happened to achieve the murders, it's closer to a performance art piece than a terrifying spree. Take, for example, the very first scene of the first film, in which Drew Barrymore looks outside at her pool while talking to the killer:
You didn't notice the two assholes in black robes laying down 75 pounds of dry ice in your backyard for mood?
This sets up a few minutes later, when she looks back to see her soon-to-be-dead boyfriend tied up and gagged.
Since the killers are two greasy teens and not a supernatural entity, this surprise has to be the result of one of them quickly and quietly dragging the body out while the other talks on the phone. That's some next-level sneak right there. And since this is all timed with the phone call, the two killers must have sat down and excitedly coordinated exactly what they were going to do.
And this is the regular MO for every Scream killer: quietly sneaking around upscale houses in order to hide in precisely the right place, often without any guarantee it will pay off. Later in the film, our main character retreats to the bathroom, only to be attacked by the killer hiding in the stall ...
... who must have been in there for-fucking-ever, considering how coincidental that is. Later, they kill their principal and somehow hoist him onto the goalpost outside the school. All while sneaking around the building in sweaty masks and robes. It's worse in Scream 2, where a murder sequence is sandwiched between moments when the killers are seen out of costume, meaning that they are spending their non-killing time rushing around like an old-school SNL performer. And we haven't even gotten to Scream 3, the only one where the murderer is one guy donning multiple scary outfits and juggling fake voices along the way. All while hotboxed in a black cloak in Los Angeles heat. Imagine how thirsty he must always be.
None of it is impossible; just really, really impressive in terms of theatrics. There's elaborate coordination, the ability to improv, and some light crafting skills needed. When you consider this, it makes sense that Ghostface is always so easily thwarted and generally clumsy during his attacks. Without the outfit, there's nothing scary about being chased by a winded art major.
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