8. Ghosts with fast-moving heads.
Used in: The House On Haunted Hill (1999), Insidious (2011)
For all of the smack-talking we’re doing here, the truth of the matter is that if any of these tired haunted house tropes were to somehow happen in real life, we’d soil our underwear. Just imagine how you’d react if you were walking down a hallway late at night, en route to pour a late night glass of milk, when a ghost jumped out in front of you and its head started rotating like a spinning top. Of course you’d halt with the abruptness of a deer confronted by headlights, and scream with the pitch of an eight-year-old girl who’s found a spider in her hair.
But movies aren’t reality, and the old “freaky spinning head” trick with ghosts is an obvious sign that the director doesn’t have the fortitude to let his or her make-up department’s ghoul designs scare for themselves. A cheap parlor trick, the wigged-out head tactic, as seen in the above clip from 1999’s forgettable House On Haunted Hill remake, always feels hokey, even in this year’s otherwise effective hit Insidious.