Haunted Tropes #005 – The EPA Is Going To Tear Us Apart If They Find Out About That

Tropes are not clichés, which are dull and uninteresting. These are common scares that come back year after year because they work, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re highly repetitive. Join us every Thursday as we explore these Haunted Tropes.

“Hey what’s that green crap? What is this? Jesus Christ, look at this place! This is a disaster! That’s gotta be toxic. God, the EPA is going to tear us apart if they find out about that. Well I’m not saying anything. I don’t wanna get called into court as a witness on this once the cat gets out of the bag.”
-Gordon Freeman, Ross Scott’s “Freeman’s Mind”

Haunted Houses are the most disgusting places on Earth.

I could just end the article there, honestly… I mean, what more do you need? You’ve got a GIF of a giant robot cleaning up nuclear waste, and a statement about grime that leaves nothing to the imagination. What more do you want from me? I don’t want to think about it again. If I envision the kind of grime we’re talking about, I’ll have to wash my brain out with Purell again, and I’ve never been the same since.

Alright, fine, you want me to go on? I will, but on your own head be it.

The best way I can illustrate the point is with a side-by-side comparison. So you know what? You can participate in your own mental abuse. Be prepared to wash your eyes out with bleach – I know I certainly did. I’ll probably have to Lysol my internet history as well; I don’t even know how that works but I’ll do it.

[mlw_quizmaster quiz=1]

See what I mean? Disgusting. Nasty. Filthy. I suppose I understand what they’re trying to accomplish here – the kinds of houses that really look this way clearly belong to the 1%… no, not that 1%. The other 1%, the ones who are utterly deranged, totally off their rockers, and I get that’s who you’re trying to represent in a haunt, but for cryin’ out loud, this is beyond a dilapidated building, this is beyond being condemned. This is insanity, pure and simple. How does anything ever get this dirty?

If you’re going to grunge up your haunt to this degree – and that’s a perfectly valid choice, I’m not saying it isn’t – then you need to make your story match. If it’s supposed to be a sanitarium that’s been abandoned for 50 years? Cool, I’ll buy this. If it’s a haunted house in suburbia where paranormal investigators are supposed to be working? Not so much.

If you’ve been reading the whole series then by now it should be pretty obvious that the things that stick out like a sore thumb are the ones that reek of inconsistency – with established story, with the experience at the beginning vs at the end, or just with the basics of human behavior. You can definitely do this if you want a total gross-out experience, and that’s a reasonable thing to want (in this industry, anyway, it’s slightly less acceptable in fields like rock music, auto mechanics, and decreasingly so for psychology, dentistry, and NASA engineers). You just have to make sure the story you’re telling matches with the setting the audience can see with their own eyes.