Few other characters inspire as much vocal disapproval as a soon-to-be-victim who accepts rides from creepy truckers and runs up the stairs to escape a killer instead of out the door. But the stress of being pursued by a murderer in a Halloween mask might impair your judgement, too. That’s why we have the educational web series, How To Survive A Horror Movie.
Produced for CBS Interactive, all 18 installments of How to Survive a Horror Movie are presented as mini-training films, complete with a 1950s-style announcer. Each contains a lesson on how to escape scenarios common to the horror genre. Or not.
While the show works best when picking apart genre cliches, such as killer dolls and haunted houses, several episodes are just parodies on specific movies, like The Sixth Sense (“How to Tell If You’ve Been Dead Since the Beginning of the Movie“) and Children of the Corn (“What To Do If Your Corn Has Children In It“).
Perhaps the most notable thing about this 2007 series is that it was written and co-directed by Seth Grahame-Smith, who authored the book of the same name. Grahame-Smith later wrote the smash-hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, a synthesis of classic regency literature and the late 21st century zombie craze. It became a New York Times Bestseller and is currently being developed into a feature by none other than Natalie Portman.
With this in mind, How to Survive a Horror Movie still doesn’t feel like a series from someone with his finger on the pulse of pop culture iconography. The parody is very broad, which is fine if you have only a basic interest in horror, but the serious slasher fans who would enjoy the series the most will be left wanting a sharper take on the genre’s cliches.
Only a handful of the eighteen episodes are worth getting excited about (though they all look great, every penny of that CBS money showing up on screen), but since there’s no overarching plot, you can skip straight to the good ones. The two winners are “7 Things To Never Put In A Child’s Room” and “How to Defeat Satan,” which isn’t what you would expect, but does point out a cast-iron horror movie trope which I never fully considered. It involves nudity, but not the kind the majority of horror buffs care for. You’ve been warned.