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9. A ghost seduces one of the main characters.

Used in: The Shining (1980), Haunted (1995), American Horror Story (2011, FX television series)

Don’t get us wrong—if the ghost of a former lingerie model lives in the film’s house, there’d better be a scene in which the weak-willed father succumbs to the nudie spirit’s flirtations. That doesn’t mean we have to respect the movie for it, however. Presenting one or more of the protagonists with a supernatural love interest, or even a one-scene fling, instantly drains a film of its menace, even if the sexy ghoul turns out to be a manipulative demon. Who wants a romance novel interlude in a supposedly terrifying film?

Besides, Stanley Kubrick already wrote and closed the book on the seductive ghost scene in his masterpiece of a loose Stephen King adaptation The Shining. One of the film’s scariest moments (and it’s a flick chockfull of pee-your-pants force), Jack Torrance’s (Jack Nicholson) excursion into the Overlook Hotel’s Room 237 is a brilliant example of paralyzing sound design, slow-burning dread, and sexual bait-and-switch. What starts off as Jack’s chance to tongue down a hot naked blond descends into a nightmarish make-out session with a rotting, old lady corpse, a hideous apparition that issues a devilish cackle.

Any haunted house movie-maker who tries to either emulate or top Kubrick’s Room 237 knockout is playing his or herself. This one’s a cliché simply because it’s already been perfectly executed.

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