100 pages of Horror – Spoiler Alert! The Badass Book of Movie Plots: Why We All Love Hollywood Clichés by Steven Espinoza, Kathleen Killian Fernandez & Chris Vander

Every genre of movie has its clichés and horror is no exception. From the Safe Place is Overrun scene in every zombie film to the Grizzled Loner that appears in every Post- Apocalyptic Sci-Fi to the fact that every Slasher film contains the line “You don’t know the legend? Everyone knows that story.”

The thing is even though so many films are fantastically formulaic with predictable plot twists and supposedly shocking scenes a seasoned viewer could see coming a mile off, we still love them. In fact in some cases their unoriginality actually increases our enjoyment and this truism is something Steven Espinoza, Kathleen Killian Fernandez and Chris Vander the authors of Spoiler Alert! are very aware of.

Sub-titled The Badass Book of Movie Plots: Why We All Love Hollywood Clichés, Spolier Alert! allows you to celebrate hackneyed Hollywood film-making in all its goofy glory. Containing 38 mainstream movie genres over 230 pages plus each classic film formula is broken down and brought to life through detailed and awesome illustrations.

Steven Espinoza, Kathleen Killian Fernandez and Chris Vander Kaay are a collective of movie obsessed critics, authors and writers who have seen so many films they are more than qualify to deconstruct and deride the derivative plot lines and characters that Hollywood can’t seem to stop itself churning out.

Hilarious from start to finish it’s the perfect read for any movie buff or movie newbie whatever their favourite films are as discussed in the introduction that not only tells you how to read the book but who it is aimed at. From here we plunge straight in and Spoiler Alert! starts its wry yet detailed look at the way movies are plotted, designed, styled and made.

Running through everything from Teen Sex Comedies to Political Conspiracy Thrillers to Time Travel Sci-Fi to Spy Adventures to Showbiz Dramas to Modern Martial Arts Action each genre gets its own poster starting off with Fantasy Epic, as well as a guide on how to name your movie.

We then get some crucial lines of dialogue along with a set of classic characters, locations, props and themes suited to the style of cinema being parodied. Then it’s onto a wonderfully illustrated plot played out over the next few pages hitting all the notes and nuances that you will instantly recognise whether it’s a Superhero Origin film or an Erotic Thriller.

Being obsessed with horror I decided to look at all the examples the book covered and I was not disappointed. Spoiler Alert! takes on Creepy Kid’s, Alien Invasions, Animal Attack movies, Atomic Creature features, Serial Killers, Exorcisms, Spooky old house horrors and more perfectly capturing the repetitive essence and essential elements in all of them.

Within just the horror films featured there are so many sensation sections allowing you to choose your Disturbing Child’s Toy, Heroic Rescue Animal, Method of Embiggening, Sympathetic Character in Peril B-Story and Style of Haunter.

Made all the more funny when you can work out exactly what they are referencing the book still works if you are a novice cinema watcher as it quickly builds your genre repertoire opening your eyes not only to the patterns each film follows but some types of movies you may never have watched before. There is even a section in the back with a list of Recommended Viewing so you can see some of these clichés in action as well as a bonus set of lines of dialogue that will seamless fit into any genre.

A hugely entertaining read Spoiler Alert! is a slick satirical swipe at the Good-Bad films the mainstream movie industry keeps on pumping into our cinemas and we all, for some insane reason, keep on watching. I guarantee after reading The Badass Book of Movie Plots cover to cover you will transform into an encyclopaedia of blockbuster knowledge filled to the brim with every stereotypical element Hollywood ever used meaning there won’t be a plot you wouldn’t recognise and a genre you couldn’t gloss over.

Spoiler Alert! The Badass Book of Movie Plots: Why We All Love Hollywood Clichés by Steven Espinoza, Kathleen Killian Fernandez and Chris Vander Kaay is available in Paperback at laurenceking.com and all good book shops. You can also read the rest of our 100 Pages of Horror by clicking the HERE.


Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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