HORROR THRILLER IDEAS

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HORROR THRILLER IDEAS!
Overused, Outdated, Uninspired, Untalented, Time-Tested hack tropes for a more successful you!
Feo Amante Article by
E.C. McMullen Jr.
Copyright 2006 by E.C.McMullen Jr. for feoamante.com
UPDATED: 2010

Yes, Post Halloween gloom affects a lot of Horror Thriller writers. It's kind of hard to kick start the scares when yer in line at the bank or mall and hear the Manhattan Transfer rape the 12 Days Of Christmas for the 37th time.

That's why you have me, and this is what I have for you! Horror Thriller story ideas!

I didn't make them up, no. These Horror Thriller story ideas are time tested sure-fire hits. Their beauty lies in the fact that every editor and movie studio will swear up and down that they don't want them, then go on to publish or produce at least 15 of them in the coming year! Why would the money people do exactly what they openly say they WON'T do? Because it's imagined that these cliches have a built-in audience!

In fact, once in a great while a book or movie riddled with these cliches becomes an inexplicable hit! (TWILIGHT, SHADES OF GREY), and when that blue moon shines, it is used to gloss over the other 100 books and movies that used the same boilerplate and flopped.

So let's all lap up the final dregs of gravy at the bottom of the train and bid another Horror Thriller phase goodbye.

JAWS

First some context: In 1975, Steven Spielberg hit his stride with JAWS. JAWS started with a gimmick that really worked. The 5 minute gotcha! Something has to happen in the first five pages of a script that will hold the viewers attention during the boring part of the movie, that is, the setup.

And you never saw it as a matter of course anywhere else except in television. The 5 minute opening Gotcha before the commercial or opening credits We didn't see it in PSYCHO or THE BIRDS. We didn't see it in COLOSSUS, PLANET OF THE APES, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, A CLOCKWORK ORANGE or any of the Hammer Studios movies.

So in JAWS, Chrissie gets naked and runs into the water and gets eaten by a shark, all in the first five minutes.

Serves her right for getting naked!

As far as I can tell though, the 5 minute gotcha started in 1954 with GODZILLA. But you know what? In both cases, that 5 minute gotcha WORKS! It is directly related to the very next thing that happens in the story, not wedged in somewhere later on for filler.

Spielberg did the same thing for JURASSIC PARK and MINORITY REPORT. It must be said though that Steven Speilberg is an obviously talented director who understands a story. That first 5 minute gotcha doesn't stand alone as an appendage to the story, it IS the story.

Wes Craven followed suit right around the same time so Steve and Wes basically created the formula in movies as did writer James Herbert^ in novels, and it works for them. Yet SO many lesser writers and directors have imitated with SO many lesser works that the formula has dried to paste. They have a 5 or 10 page gotcha, and then go about the rest of the story only generally (or never at all) referencing that opening scene. Oh sure, the killer or monster reappears, but the opening scene otherwise had no effect on the story and often the varmint doesn't make a second appearance until sometime around midway in the book/movie.

That sucks!

Like Alfred Hitchcock, John Carpenter's best movies don't rely on a formula like that. Dean Koontz and Richard Laymon never depended on any one formula and neither does Peter Straub^. They had/have their own way of doing things.

So here are some ideas that editors, publishers, and studios will swear up and down that they don't want, then will reject everything but these ideas and publish and produce anyway.

Remember: When we've collectively gathered enough experience to stop watching their crap, they will proclaim with the gravitas of experts that "Horror is dead".

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