An American Werewolf in London (1981)

23 Fans Share Their Must-Have Horror Clichés They Actually Love

Sometimes horror movie tropes get old. We see the same things happen in every movie, like the killer popping up from behind a refrigerator door. But some horror tropes are cliché because they’re actually an effective way to spook the audience. Some horror fans recently listed their favorite horror clichés that they still haven’t gotten sick of. Do you love these tropes, too?

The TV news clips in zombie movies.

It’s absolutely abused to death in zombie movies but my favorite overused cliché is the scene in which:

– People sitting around a place with a TV (usually a restaurant)

– Report comes on the TV… A strange incident at a hospital!

– Someone says, “Hey turn that up.”

– Report ends, and a police car flies by with sirens blaring

I love it because I know it’s about to go down!


The sneaky hidden ghost.

My favorite is when the camera is panning in a room and they sneakily hide the ghost in the shot. Even better when there’s no music cue, makes you wonder if you actually saw it.


The surprise in old pictures.

I love it when the main character finds old pictures and sees something creepy in them.


The wood-cutting switcheroo.

The killer swinging a bladed weapon down toward a victim, immediate cut to innocuous chopping food or firewood to start the next scene.


Talking to the expert.

I always love it when the characters visit the expert and the expert talks about the evil they are up against. Poltergeist, Dark Skies, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, The Entity, and The Possession are a few.

Sometimes, they take the form of an “Ahab” as Behind the Mask put it.


The warning from the weird townie.

The old man who warns people to stay away from the cursed place but is so weird and cryptic they just ignore him instead.

It fills my heart with joy every time.


The gruesome opening credits.

The “exposition dump” during opening credits intercut with unsettling images from the villains previous crimes, like in The Collection. If done well, it can really rope you into the story.


The double-take jump scare.

Look one way – nothing

Look the other way – nothing

Look back the first way – something

Absolutely never surprising, possibly the most basic/overused type of jump scare but I love it anyway. I don’t care that I know it’s going to happen, I will still jump and I will still like it.


The mirror trick.

The bathroom medicine cabinet mirror.


When they let themselves in.

When people knock on a door and then just let themselves into someone’s house when no one answers shouting “Hellooooo?, is anyone here?” Who the fuck does that lol? I like it though because it fills me with dread that they’re gonna get caught(which they will), but it also makes me not feel so bad when they meet their demise. Like what did you expect would happen smart guy? You just walked into a creepy murder house uninvited.

The kids in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre probably invented this trope. I would never let myself in a house uninvited, especially in fucking Texas, and especially when I was dressed like a bunch of hippies while in Texas.


The drag out of sight.

I really like shots of people being dragged backwards by the legs as they scream. [REC] did a really good one.


The red herring.

Always loved the creepy mysterious stalker that turns out to be good, and was helping all along.


The cheap mansion.

Pulling up to a Victorian house that’s been on the market for 50 years but it was a great deal.


The transformation.

I love a slow werewolf transformation.


The false hope.

My favorite is definitely the false hope. The police come to the rescue and are suddenly defeated. Or “wait here I’ll get help, I’m going to bring the army the national guard, everyone,” then they completely and utterly die! Examples: Police and ambulance drivers in Return of the Living Dead. The huge motorcycle jump scene in Cabin in the Woods.


The deep research on the Big Bad.

The internet/library/microfiche research deep dive! Pause this, I need to get my glasses!!!


The sequel setup.

The final shot of the egg the monster laid and other implications that “it’s not finished, you merely escaped.”


The map trick.

When people map the locations of events out and realize that it forms some kind of shape or pattern.


The other victims.

I love when I’m watching something and there is an indicator that the antagonists have been at it for a significant period of time. You get examples of this is Wrong Turn when they come across the “graveyard” of abandoned vehicles. Texas Chainsaw with all the bones/body parts. House of 1,000 Corpses also does this.


When they hide the zombie bite.

I love it in zombie movies when someone gets bit and they’re too scared to tell anybody, so you know someone is going down with them lol.


The old furniture room.

Rooms full of furniture covered by cloths, and then you realize there’s a ghost covered with cloth too! The Others and Oculus did it well.


Cat jump scares.

Cat jump scares are so cliché and I will enjoy every single one because cats are assholes and it’s hilarious.


The dead man’s party.

It’s not done very much any more but I love the thing in slashers where they set up all the victims for the final girl to stumble across at the end. Someone on Letterboxd refers to this as the “dead man’s party” trope and since they pointed out its existence it makes me smile every time I see it.