13 Questionable Choices in Horror Movies
Article By: Sean Abley
Sometimes it’s more complicated than “Chicken, or fish?”
It’s easy to armchair quarterback the behavior of horror movie characters, but if we were being chased by an axe-wielding maniac, our deductive reasoning might be a bit off as well. However, given the circumstances in the following films, we can safely say these characters’ choices are questionable at best.
1. Hellraiser (1987) – Kirsty opening the puzzle box
By the time Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) purposefully solves the puzzle box, she’s already seen her resurrected, semi-flayed uncle Frank feeding on the blood of a dead man. She knows the box is connected to this atrocity, but for some reason she decides she really, really needs to open it up. Walk away, girl. Seriously, walk away.
2. Drag Me to Hell (2009) – Christine not giving the old gypsy lady an extension on her loan
At the beginning of the film our heroine Christine (Alison Lohman) is working as a junior loan officer in a bank, when an old gypsy woman asks for more time to pay her mortage. Christine, apparently never having heard of gypsies, says, “No.” And thus, the dragging to Hell commences courtesy of the gypsy woman’s curse on Christine. Girl, putting curses on people is part of the gypsy job description. When an old gypsy woman asks for a favor, and then begs you for that favor, do yourself a solid and do her that favor.
3. Night of the Living Dead (1968 and 1990) – Ben refusing to hide in the cellar
Real talk: Harry Cooper was right, and Ben was being a total dick. For those who don’t know the plot of one of the most famous movies ever made, here’s a gigantic spoiler: in the early days of the zombie uprising seven people barricade themselves in an abandoned farmhouse. An argument breaks out about the safest place to hide—upstairs with the barely boarded up windows and doors and a million ways to break in, or down in the basement with the door locked. Ben, “Mr. I Rule the Upstairs,” argues with Harry, basically forcing the guy to lock him out of the basement and setting the scene for most of the deaths to follow. And in the end, where does Ben hide? I can’t even with this guy…
4. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) – Stretch playing the murder on the radio
A perfect storm of events leads to Stretch (Caroline Williams), a local DJ, recording the murder of two douchebags by Leatherface while on the phone with the victims. A local crazy sheriff (Dennis Hopper) convinces Stretch to broadcast the murder on the radio to… what? Smoke out the bad guys? Convince people he’s not crazy? Any reason would seem lacking, and yet…Stretch plays the murder on the radio. Cut to Leatherface and his family paying a visit to the station and doing what they do best…
5. Evil Dead (1981) – Listening to the tapes of someone reading the Book of the Dead
You’re listening to a recording telling you that terrible things will happen if someone reads the Book of the Dead aloud… and then you continue to listen while that person reads the Book of the Dead aloud. It’s not like they didn’t have any warning. I mean, it’s not called Book of the Relaxing Weekend…
6. The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Michael ditching the map
After Heather (Donahue), Josh (Leonard) and Mike (Williams) spending a day or two marching around lost in the haunted woods (I’ll just remind you the trio chose to spend time in those woods because they were haunted), Mike decides to ditch their map by kicking it into the river. Because when you’re lost, you should definitely take it out on the map. Am I right, guys? At that point the group goes from lost to hopelessly lost, with the Blair Witch waiting with open arms…
7. The Blob (1958 and 1988) – The old man poking the Blob with a stick
The 1950s were a simpler time, but even simple people should instinctively know not to poke and prod something that just fell to Earth from outer space. Who knows? Had he not poked the Blob, the Blob might not have attacked him, and he might not have staggered out to the road, and Steve McQueen might not have found him, and he might not have been brought into town, and the Blob might not have eaten a doctor and nurse and gotten bigger, and…
8. Last House on the Left (1972) – Mari and Phyllis going with Junior to buy pot
Perhaps Last House on the Left is where 30 Rock’s Jack Donaghy gleaned this piece of advice: “Never go with a hippie to a second location.” In the beginning of this story of abduction, murder and revenge, Mari and Phyllis listen to a radio news alert just moments before encountering Junior—a group of crazy, murderous nutjobs have helped their main murderous nutjob, Krug, escape from prison and everybody should be on the lookout. And then they try to buy pot from a weirdo at a concert, and then they follow him to his apartment, and then…
9. Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (1972) – Alan humiliating Orville the Corpse in a mock wedding
There are many questionable decisions in Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things—the gravediggers exhuming a corpse, the psychic conducting a séance to revive the dead, shooting a film without permits. But perhaps the most questionable of all is Alan (Alan Ormsby) using Orville the Exhumed Corpse (Seth Sklarey) as his plaything during a mock wedding. Because Orville don’t want no scrubs…
10. Killdozer (1974) – Crawling into a blocked pipe when being chased by a sentient bulldozer
Sure, when a bulldozer comes to life and starts chasing you around a construction site, you’re probably going to be too stunned to think strategically. However…
11. Snuff (1976) – Agreeing to have sex on a film set while the rest of the crew is there.
At the end of a long, low budget (one would assume) horror film shoot (which comes at the end of this long, low budget horror film in a moment of cinema vérité), the director seduces the script girl in front of the crew... and they all pitch in to slaughter her on as the camera rolls. Now, even without knowing you’ve been invited to the casting couch for a snuff film, why sleep with the director after the film is wrapped?
12. Pet Sematary (1989) – Louis burying his dead son in a cursed pet cemetery
After Louis’ young son is run down on the highway, he buries the body in a cemetery known for returning whatever is buried there alive, but… different. Look, we understand the grief of losing a child. But dude, you already tried this with your cat, and you got a killer zombie cat in return. And to top it off, after the son situation goes terribly, he tries again with his wife. We can’t help you if you’re not going to help yourself.
13. 28 Weeks Later (2007) – Don kissing his Alice after she’s been infected with the Rage Virus
At the beginning of the film we watch Don (Robert Carlyle) abandon his wife, Alice (Catherine McCormack) as they’re attacked in their country home by Rage-infected Brits. Turns out she doesn’t die—instead, she’s infected but remains asymptomatic. While she’s strapped to a table for tests, Don tries to get back into her good graces with an apology and a kiss. Sadly, like any husband who’s forgotten an anniversary or left his wife to die, whatever he tries just makes everything worse…
Sean Abley is a screenwriter, playwright, novelist and journalist. His new novelization of Night of the Living Dead is available from Amazon.