The Fernby Films Top Ten Stupid Movie Conventions & Cliches

A while ago, while watching a scary movie (I do believe it was The Hitcher, with Sean Bean) that I found myself rolling my eyes at yet another film plot device that simply cannot possibly be as common as we see in films. The old chestnut where the main characters, in a precarious predicament, try to dial for help on their mobile phone. Sorry US readers, here in Australia we call a Cell Phone a Mobile Phone. And, of course, the character in trouble invariably finds that the phone has either a) flat battery, or, even more common, b) no reception. In this modern day and age, is cellular phone technology so bad in the States that the second you get off the highway, your cell reception vanishes?

Anyway, that got me thinking… what are some of the worst and most stupid movie cliches and conventions filmmakers use to progress a story, regardless of logic. Well, here at we sat around a table for a while, Twelve Angry Men style, and hammered out a list we thought would accommodate some of the worst cliches you’ll see on screen. Of course, there were a heap that didn’t make the list, but for our money, this is the top of the heap that annoys us while watching a movie.

10 – The Sound Of Silence

You know how space is supposedly a vacuum? A place where air, or gas of any kind, simply doesn’t exist? A place where sound cannot exists, since sound is derived from the pressurisation of air? Well, according to the majority of films dealing with space travel, sound can indeed move through the far reaches of the cosmos, and generally with a subsonic rumble directly proportionate to the size of the spacecraft traversing the galaxy.

Stanley Kubrick is perhaps the greatest proponent of accurate science in this Top Movie Cliché, with his sci-fact opus 2001: A Space Odyssey trying to bring people a realistic world such as must exist in actual space. Spacecraft in that film make no sound, save for the dulcet tones of Strauss’ Blue Danube, which in itself has become a clichépiece for people travelling through space. Kubrick decided to remove all sound from his outer space moments in this film for realism, negating the fact that people expected to hear something. Of course, since then, that convention went out the window as filmmakers saw a chance to really contribute to the education of potential astronauts by portraying outer space as a noisy, bass-filled area where rockets, lasers and colliding asteroids all sound like underwater gunfire, mixed into Dolby and no doubt equalized within an inch of it’s life.

So just how did this convention begin? Well, legend would tell us that filmmakers employed the idea of sounds in space for the very reason Kubrick eschewed the idea: people expected to hear something. Film, now that sound was involved, required something to be heard regardless of it’s logical intent. So, if you have a snazzy rocket ship with a gang of Wookie’s, humans and Jedi on board, or even Captain Kirk and his slightly crazy cowboy crew, you have to be able to hear the ship moving through space, as though a vacuum is simply an obstruction to good storytelling.

As audiences, we’ve been so abused by this convention we hardly notice it: in fact, it’s so far ingrained we notice it when it’s not there. Imagine the thrilling overabundance of Armageddon with no space-borne sound? The last 2 thirds of the film would be utterly silent. Some would argue that would be a blessing. Or Star Wars without the sound of Artoo Detoo as he sits on the back of Luke’s X-Wing, open to the vacuum of space yet still able to bleep and bloop and be heard. And the magnificent rumble of the opening Star Destroyer chasing down the Alderranian ship with Princess Leia on board: try watching it with the sound off, and the effect is utterly obliterated.

Yes, we all know sound doesn’t travel through space. Of course, it’s hard to explain the science behind Jodie Fosters discovery in Contact, which appears to be some kind of stellar pulse sent through space and into her radio (I bet Dick Smith doesn’t carry one of those every day!), but then, as far as the story goes, you don’t need to explain it, just accept it.

Yes, its an accepted convention, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good one.

9 – Phone Directory From Hell (or, What’s That About An Area Code?)

Ever watched a movie where somebody’s given somebody else a phone number? Or dialed a phone number on a push-button phone? Every time you see it done in a film, the number always starts with 555. As far as movie conventions go, this is probably the most innocuous of the lot.

Yet it’s something that bothers me. It’s not the fact that the filmmakers can’t put an actual phone number on screen, but they have to resort to using an age-old device with which to hide the fact.

Okay, so perhaps I’m being slightly pedantic about cliché’s and conventions that irk me with this example, but I feel it’s a legitimate idea.

If anybody ever gives you their phone number starting with 555, run away. And what would be more amusing, is if somewhere, somebody decided that a new set of phone numbers would actually start with 555, just for japes.

8 – Thunder & Rain

Jimmy brought up a great point the other day, which was to mention that every time we see rain in a film, there’s always a peal of thunder somewhere in the soundtrack. It’s not always the case, though, where a real rainstorm has thunder to accompany it. In fact, here in Australia, it’s a fair rarity to have thunder and lighting every time there’s rain. Of course, the climate change people would argue that any rain is good rain, but why does it always need to be accompanied by thunder? And lighting? Scary movies use this cliché ad-nauseum, almost to the point where it almost becomes the norm: a crutch, if you will, for filmmakers to set a mood without really trying.

Watch the original Matrix movie, to see my point. Every time it’s evening, it’s raining. Every few moments, when the Wachowski’s cut to a new angle featuring dripping rain, there’s thunder. And a few blinks of lightning.

Watch any scary film made in the last twenty years to see the proliferation of what I’m saying. Rain doesn’t always fall from thunderclouds. So why can’t we just simply have rain, without the ubiquitous thunderclap inserted in Dolby 5.1 every few seconds, just to remind us that, yes, it is raining, and no, the shadow moving through the darkness up ahead isn’t a mad psycho killer out to garrote us and string us up Predator-style in the jungle… maybe.

Every landscape shot featuring rain coming over the horizon is beset with digital lighting and distant rumbles of thunder to hammer home the point that rainis coming, the dark clouds surrounding our characters representative of their dire situation.

I can’t remember the last time we had rain and a thunderstorm here. Actually, I can, but I can’t remember the time before that, which goes to show just how infrequently thunder accompanies rain here down under. Maybe it’s a Hollywood-ism, but it’s a distracting one, and a cliché that’s become far overused it’s degenerated into a genre of filmmaking itself.

Side note: Burial scenes in cemeteries almost always involve bucket-loads of rain. And thunder. For some reason, people wearing black look cooler under equally black umbrellas, their faces partially obscured by gigantic raindrops dripping past them. Scenes set when there is no burial, but still in a cemetery, almost always have bright sunshine, or full moonlight, so the characters can be easily seen. Cemeteries are the most well watered of all earthly places.

7 – Ropes that Break: When quality doesn’t always come first.

You know those moments in a film where the hero, swinging from a cable or rope off the edge of a cliff, from a ceiling, and you hear the ominous creak of said cable or rope staring to break under the strain? Stupid, stupid stupid.

The last time I ever saw a rope actually snap was during an agricultural show a long time ago, with two tractors testing the tensile strength of a locally produced rope by pulling it from each end and seeing what happened. Not only was this in itself a stupid idea, but they actually had to stop after ten minutes because nothing was happening. The rope, a thin piece of twin strung between the two giant machines, simply stood tall and said screw you guys, I’m not breaking.

Now, in movies, and to a larger degree animated films, ropes and cable have a strange tendency to break and snap when put under any kind of pressure. Wile E Coyote, for instance, must surely be taking legal action against ACME selling anybody rope ever again, with the number of rope-failure issues’s he’s had over the years. Seriously, there’s no reason why every single rope on screen needs to stretch, break and unravel to the degree of frequency we see. If they did, why in the heck didn’t Tom Cruise’s rope snap during that scene in Mission Impossible where he’s dangling with his sweat-loving glasses above that computer, hoping like hell some guy in the next room continues to vomit stomach acid while he pinches secrets from the CIA? There’s no true justice in Hollywood. Had there been, the Road Runner would have been coyote crap years ago and Ethan hunt would have been extradited to a country that sanctions torture and mercy killings for people who desire to perform some kind of ritualistic ballet while firing weaponry.

Yes, one of my pet peeves is weaponry and equipment that doesn’t work when required. Guns jam, ropes snap, buckles unbuckle, something always goes wrong. And it’s not the cheap stuff either, half the time the stuff getting wrecked is quite pricey: K-Mart wouldn’t stock this rubbish.

About the only convention that never seems to break is night vision goggles. Heck, they’re cool, invaluable for reconnaissance, and they never seem to break. They have their limitations, of course, in that they’re always in weird green alien vision, but the purpose they serve is to further the story by adding a cool convention to the film.

Yet, when our hero (or heroes) wants to abseil down the side of a skyscraper, or swing between trees, or even tie up a captured foe: the rope always fails. Or starts to fail. Either way, this overused cliché is getting old, fast. Just once, I’d like Ethan Hunt to fall flat on his smug, crud-eating grin.

6 – Car Chase Idiocy: Cars That Never Die

In any Hollywood action film involving a car chase of some kind, there’s a seemingly unwritten rule that says the car driven by the bad guy will, no matter what, be almost up to the standard of that driven by the good guy. And said cars in chase, must, by definition, be made of kevlar and indestructuim. Never heard of indestructium? It’s a metal used by Hollywood car manufacturers since the advent of the vehicle to ensure it manages to last an entire chase scene without simply moving to the side of the road and dying in a cloud of exhaust and gas fumes. Bullets and rockets can collide with a vehicle made of indestructium, yet the vehicle keeps moving. Other vehicles, perhaps not made of indestructium, smack and whack into the hero car and explode in a blaze of body parts and shrapnel, yet the hero car continues on it’s merry way, crumpled, wrecked, yet undeniably moving.

Of course, perhaps the most insane example of this in recent times would be any of the Bourne movies, Identity, Ultimatum or my personal favourite, Supremacy, where Bourne and Eomer from Lord Of The Ringsdisrupt glasnost by alienating the entire Moscow population from Hollywood filmmaking as they trash their city using a yellow cab and a hummer. The cab, driven by Bourne(Matt Damon) manages to swerve, crash and bash it’s way through the city using every sweet driving trick in the stunt crew’s arsenal, windows smashing and panels ending up like swiss cheese: yet, in the end, the car is still strong enough to push a Hummer into a dividing wall inside a tunnel. Sideways. Strange, I didn’t think those dinky little cabs were that resilient.

Yet this just goes to prove my point: no matter how insane the idea is, on screen it looks cool, but after a few times watching it, you start to look at it from a more detached, logical perspective, and you smile to yourself with the knowledge that should you ever become embroiled in high speed pursuits in Russia, the best vehicle you want to get into is a yellow cab.

Which brings me to another bone of contention. How come, whenever a car chase begins, neither the good guys or bad guys get into a cheap-ass, beat up run down piece of rubbish car? You know, the kind of car sitting in the street with a “4 Sale” sign on the windscreen, rear bumper doing it’s best to get to China and at least one tyre under-inflated? Imagine Jason Bourne navigating the winding streets of Moscow or Paris with the vehicular equivalent of Keith Richards. Nope, instead, the case is usually between the latest hotrod and a police car (see The Rock for an example of this) or a couple of relatively modern, fancy-free family wagons with no special suspension or turbo-injected-whatever engines to fly up to 100.

I love a good car chase, don’t get me wrong. High speed pursuit is a staple of any good action film, and to be honest, they’re fewer and further between these days. But the logic behind a good car chase hasn’t been the same sine the Keystone Kops got the wobblies on those old open top beasties of yesteryear.

Of course, the most cited example of modern, logical car chase filmmaking was the John Frankenheimer actioner Ronin, with a couple of doozy chases through streets, fields, cliffside freeways (again with the rockets) and a fish market. As a sequence on camera, Ronin has some of the best chase moments ever captured on film: and while perhaps taken to the extreme during a tunnel chase, manage to come out the other end surprisingly well. Of course, the old adage that if a car collides with anything, it immediately explodes (not possible) jumps up and slaps you in the face at one point, but that’s about the only chase convention on offer during this masterful sequence.

Whichever way you lean in terms of the kind of films you like to watch, the fact remains that almost everybody likes to watch a good car chase; they’re vicarious and exciting, although utterly factually inaccurate.

5 – When the Power Goes Out

There’s always a moment in a scary film where the stupid blonde girl in a singlet or a nightie goes into a dark room, flicks the light, and nothing happens. Then she’s attacked, we’re treated to (usually) a bloody splurge of red cordial down a wall, and the victim falls to the ground dead while black boots trot off into the house to do more damage.

Why is it that the light never comes on? Why is it that when trying the light, and it doesn’t come on, the character feels it necessary to flick the switch a couple more times just to check? What, does power availability fluctuate in Hollywood to the point where you have to flick a switch several times just to be sure it wasn’t a trick on your eyes? Do light switches suffer from a quality control so bad they come with a warning that “this switch may not work the first time?”

Of course, first you’d be screaming at the stupid girl for opening the door to the room she heard the strange sound in anyway, but to back up that cliché, she has to venture into the dark room because if she doesn’t she’ll (and we’ll) never know what it was.

Scary movies often offer up the best cliches and conventions, mainly due to the fact that by their very nature, they place people in situation most of us would simply walk away from. The old one about the torch they grab from the kitchen to walk through the house when the power mysteriously goes out, and how right when something scary happens the torch batteries die? Or the one where the Hero and the Murderer/Scary Mask Guy confront each other, and no matter how many beatings and bashing the villain receives, he/she always manages to scramble to their feet and almost kill the hero regardless of physical pain.

Side note: if you actually get bashed on the head by an iron bar, a baseball bat, a cricket bat, or anything solid, for that matter, with enough force, you sure as heck ain’t getting up! Nope, you’ll lie there with concussion and perhaps a mild skull fracture until the ambo’s arrive and cart you off to the Doctor. But in Hollywoodland, the bad guy is seemingly impervious to physical abuse, unless it’s a bullet between the eyes, and gets up and carries on their murderous rampage regardless of how many limbs they’ve got hanging off their body.

Still, I find it amazing that everybody in films seems content to just wander into a dark room, following a ghost or creepy thing dressed in black just because they can. Does nobody see scary movies, in scary movies? Yep, stupid people making stupid decisions is, in the end, stupid. Of course, events conspiring to cause harm to people outside of their own stupid control is less likely to cause consternation to the viewer, such as supernatural events where ghosts haunt our hero, or somesuch, but even then logic takes a back seat to stupidity. Screenwriters seem to have a by-the-numbers approach to scary movies that is not often bypassed.

You’ve got to love the way in which a dark room, where strange animal noises and scratching sounds emanate randomly during the night is appealing to the large bosomed cheerleader with sex on the brain and not a lot of rational thought. And without a torch.

“Brian? Brian, cut it out, you’re scaring me!” is generally the kind of dialogue that precedes a splatterfest, resulting in our cheerleaders ample bosom (and other various body parts) being split from sternum to bottom lip by a footlong knife, accompanied henceforth by her head landing next to the body of the already deceased Brian. Mind you, Brian is such a clod himself that he went into the room, flicked the switch a few times to make sure the power was definitely out, and then ventured in anyway.

Yep, it’s so cliched I think Wes Craven even made a trilogy of films about that sort of rubbish.

4 – How The Blues Brothers Achieved an Impossible Feat

It’s funny, but in the movies, just occasionally, the bad guys outrun the cops. It’s true! Unfortunately, it’s not possible in real life. Just look at all the reality cop shows we have to put up with on our television screens: all those clowns thinking the cops don’t have CB radios to coordinate an attack on that poor, defensive Magna hurtling down the freeway. Or that chopper circling the skies, not only containing a normal video camera, but also a fancy one designed to see people during the night, and even one that’s allowed to sense heat signatures, just in case our freeway loving absconder decides to leg it through the neighbourhood. So why do our movie heroe’s think they can do the impossible? Okay, so the movies aren’t real, but heck, why are cops in films often portrayed as being so inept they can’t capture a runaway bank robber? Relating back to the part I just wrote about car chases: coordinated police action will always, always result in the apprehension of any criminal on the run. Tyre spikes, intentional collisions, rocket launchers: buddy, you are going down one way or another.

Of course, no police force in the world is so inept as to simply allow these criminals to get away. Yet, the movie factory teaches us that it is indeed possible to give Johnny Law the slip. Policeman Plod, regardless of his size and intelligence, is quite often backed up by a large contingent of backup and weaponry designed to counterattack a riot.

Yet, movie villains think they can outrun a crack police force with one car (probably a yellow cab, based on past experience) or some vehicle with little chance of hiding. Although, now that you mention it, Bruce Willis drove a yellow cab, and he was able to hide from the cops in The Fifth Element, so I guess it can be done. Still, it’s a minor blemish on the inkblot of my point.

I guess the thrill really is in the chase.

3 – Bullet Ridden: The Worst Aim In History

There’s an old John Woo film aptly titled The Killer, starring Chow Yun Fat, which tells of a morally wrenched hitman being pursued by a dogged cop in Chine somewhere. Both fighting for the affections of a woman blinder during a gun-battle Yun Fat was involved in.

Touted as having the highest body count in film history (something I’d dispute if I could get a chance to rewatch Kill Bill again) The Killer should instead have been touted as having the “largest bullet count in film history per body on the floor”. One of those annoying movie cliches is the people who insist on emptying entire magazines and clips of bullets into people just to ensure they’re dead.

It seems the proliferation of guns in the US is directly proportional to the ability to actually use them. The ability to aim, for example, would seem to be a dying art. The calisthenical-weaponised mayhem of The Quick & The Deadwould seem to indicate the use of a single bullet to kill a person, whilst John Woo obviously subscribed to a different line of thinking…. One must use up all your bullets in the pursuit of dealing death. So while this is more accurate, it’s simply a cliché dying (pardon the pun) to be put into a ditch and shot.

Well, if you take real life, most often a gunshot anywhere in the torso ends up being fatal, depending on which vital organ is punctured. Three Kings will testify to this.

In movies, the only bullet that guarantee’s a kill is the one between the eyes. And even then you have to check the exit wound to be sure. After all, people get shot in all kinds of places in films, and they still stand up and survive. So, in films, anybody shot by a gazillion rounds from a couple of poorly aimed Uzi’s will be surely dead (unless wearing Kevlar).

Why is it that the bad guys can’t just kill the hero with a shot to the head. Cowboy films through the ages have relied upon body shots to effectively end the life of somebody on screen. What you don’t get is the more factually based idea that people who get shot in the head are substantially more likely to die from a single shot than four or five in the stomach…. At least, on film….

Clint Eastwood may not have made it past his first Leonie flick had the bad guy just aimed an inch higher. Fool.

Still, you have to contend that bad aim and stupid henchmen do not make a good firing squad. John McClane can attest to the fact that had the tough guy’s he’s battled been better with a gun, he’d probably be saying “Yippe Ki Yay” from a soft cloud in the wide white yonder. Do henchmen not go to a firing range and test their skill? Does a decent bad guy worth his salt, and able to actually afford henchmen, not check the calibre of their effectiveness in the very business they were hired for: to wipe out the good guys? No, that would prove ineffective in combating stupidity in weapons use.

Gunplay has been a staple of cinema since the dawn of the medium. Violence is much more effective a storytelling tool than any soppy, cushy romantic notion pushed onto society by female authors who insist that their women be whip-smart and the men dundering imbeciles…. People like Jane Austen who would most likely think action films belong in the same category as abortion discussion and Trainspotting.

Okay, so I jest a little at a Hollywood cliché…. Another one. But the fact remains that one of the most stupid conventions in Hollywood is the inept henchman, unable to defend himself (and lets face it, henchmen are usually men… often Russian or German or Eastern European… and invariably lacking in a neck..) no matter how many rounds in his Uzi: as long as the hero has one bullet left in the chamber, there’s still a chance for victory.

I often think that the reason gun-play degenerates into a body-pummelling experience is that people can’t aim a gun well enough to guarantee a kill with one shot, so they rely on multiple to achieve the same end.

Perhaps these people should simply drive a yellow cab.

2 – Supertechnology For Idiots

One of my pet hates is inaccurate computer usage. And the ability of even the most idiotic knob to operate a piece of computer software that is nothing like the one you’re using to read this now. In a kind of Star Trekworld where everybody is born able to us operating systems that don’t include a Microsoft product, Firefox, or any other recognisable current technology, people seem to be able to jump on a computer and access anything, anywhere, almost anytime.

Yes, technology on film is something of a mixed bag these days. Of course, whatever suits the story, really, but some kind of factually accurate scriptwriting might do wonders to increase the tension of a given scene where the Hero actually doesn’t know how to operate the computer.

Computers are a funny thing in movies: they can either save the day quite easily, once a password is accepted, or they can ruin the day quite easily, once a password is accepted. There’s never a grey area. Plus, they can be made to somehow integrate into any kind of alien technology that comes along. Take Independence Day, for example, one of the true blockbuster films of the 90’s. Not scientifically accurate, for example, is Jeff Goldblums’ ability to hack his laptop into a completely hostile alien technology and set off a bomb. Still, it served the film, looked cool, and gave Will Smiths character plenty of time for witty one-liners. “I ain’t heard no fat lady!” indeed.

Still, when computers rule the world, as they appear to do in Die Hard 4(that’s the second time I’ve mentioned that film.. hmm, maybe there’s something in that!) the Earth can be brought to it’s knees with the push of a shiny Enter key.

Jurassic Park, as another example, is perhaps the single greatest computer-related travesty I’ve seen on screen in years. The little girls’ ability to jump onto a foreign computer system, which looks nothing like anything special to the average viewer, exclaim that “she knows the system!” and proceed to save the day in moments, is nothing short of a technological miracle. The fact that she’s familiar with the operating system instead of the actual programme running the park doesn’t seem to matter.

As so often happens in films where computers play a key, or predominant role, technobabble is rife throughout any given script. The fact that nobody really understands what half these made-up words actually mean makes very little difference in the eventual outcome: eventually, somebody winds up trying to save the day next to a giant countdown clock which will tell you when the end of the world is coming. Still, that pesky power outage issue established in a previous statement never really seems to hurt things in the computer age. Perhaps the computer companies and the phone companies should band together to develop a computer phone that has every password ever invented, coupled with an unlimited battery life and satellite linkage for unblemished reception, maybe that would fix things. Then again, in a movie, I doubt it. The poor stupid blonde bimbo wouldn’t know how to operate the thing.

1 – Technology that Doesn’t Work: Mobile Phones and The Middle Of Nowhere.

I harken back to my earlier statement that precluded this entire article. The fact that mobile phone technology is a bit hit and miss in the film world irks me a little. In fact, this is perhaps the number one thing about film conventions that irks me. Drives me crazy. How often have we watched a film where the stupid blonde and the annoyingly arrogant jock have got themselves into trouble on a cross country trek, only to find that their “cellphone” reception has simply blinked out. Hoooooooow convenient. Of course, they’re still on what passes for a major road in the US, yet the local phone provider for the area just missed a satellite repayment, meaning anybody hoping for assistance in said middle-of-nowhere must now await their doom phone free. It seems to me that in this day and age of modern technology, where a madman can reroute the country’s gas supply from a single computer (Die Hard 4), or perhaps pursue a man around the country via satellite (Enemy of The State) can’t supply that same country with broad-range phone coverage.

Would those two kids havestopped and gone back to check out the creepy church ruins in Jeepers Creepers had their mobile phones both worked? Justin Long sure wishes they’d worked. Nope, the phones were either flat, or didn’t have reception, so this means you can’t just keep driving…. Oh no, in movie cliché heaven, you make the irrational decision to turn around and go and confront the potential axe-murdering freak you may have glimpsed from your rear window.

No, I say to Hollywood, any script that comes in with a plot cliché like mobile phone technology not being able to assist should be burned, scooped up and flushed down the toilet of a diahrretic hemorrhoid sufferer. Mobile phones may be an inconvenience to write into a script, but I think they worked very well into the otherwise forgettable remake of When A Stranger Calls.

It bugs me that screenplays can turn a plot based upon the inability to call up the cops and say “hey dude, there’s an axe-wielding maniac chasing me down highway 6, just east of Stupidville, can you help a little?” and havethe copper at the other end go “sure thing ma’am, we’ll be a few moments gathering the Uzi’s and yellow cabs, but we’ll be there.” No, instead, the lead character is invariably turned into a sweaty, ripped clothing uberhero who possesses skills in stuff they’d never teach at summer school. Like wielding a chainsaw in the final act to exact revenge for an hour or two’s running and screaming.

The best example of mobile phone technology use is Cellular, with Chris Evans and Kim Basinger, in which the young lad is called on this mobile by a woman who’s being held hostage. The race to find her while she stays on the line is a breathless chase across LA.

I guess it’s a pretty big leap to assume that while mobile phones can download things from the internet, store gigabytes of music and play porn on increasingly larger screens, they can’t keep their reception bars up once you escape the city limits. It annoys me, is stupid for the simple fact that it’s stupid, and is a crutch used by writers who can’t think of a decent excuse for the Hero not to simply phone his/her mom.

Ones that deserve a special mention:

Airport Chases:

You know, the Hero and his Woman are about to be parted by a plane flight, only for the fool to discover that he loves her, and races headlong through an airport to catch her seconds before she boards the flight. Of course, at this stage, airport security isn’t tight enough to prevent that frantic race. Although the flight attendant manning the doorway to the airplane has just enough hutzbah to prevent unauthorised boarding by asking the guy for his non-existent ticket. This sequence has been played out in films since the dawn of commercial plane flights. Of course, the man could simply catch the next flight, or, better still, use his mobile phone to contact his wayward woman and stop her. Unless his phone, like most others, doesn’t work inside an airport.

Cracked Photo Syndrome

Any photo that appears in a film, either in a frame, tucked away in a drawer, or in a hidden secret diary, has some special significance to the Hero and the plot. Generally, the more abused the photo is, the more significant it is during the film. A photo in a cracked frame indicates that there’s a ghost involved, a faded photo from a secret diary indicates a sexual indiscretion that will come back to bite somebody, and a drawer photo is indicative of the unrequited love.

Car Horn in Crash Debacle

In any car crash on film, one (or both) of the vehicles horns will continue to sound. This is never the result of the horn mechanism being faulty. It’s usually the result of some poor fool who is knocked unconscious (or dead) and slumps forward onto the steering wheel. You can always tell there’s been a crash by the siren call of the wounded car.

Military Monsters Routine

Any large scale monster film is always hampered by the fact that the military become involved, resulting in the highest stupidity factor possible to come into play. Nobody in the military knows how to deal with King Kong, Godzilla, or the thing from Cloverfield except for the punky little kid who knows how to hotwire a mobile phone, plays D&D, and has a girl as a pal who ends up being his girlfriend. Stupid military commanders only know how to point and shoot, with little time for frivolous things like science and reason.

Of course, no doubt you’ll come up with your own stupid movie cliches, so drop us a comment or three and let us know what they are!!!

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