ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

You may have seen it used in many of your favorite films, but have you ever stopped to think about the origin of some of Hollywoods most used techniques and film clichés? Thanks to some brilliant minds over on Reddit the origins of some classic movie clichés has been revealed, and with films from The Avengers to Jaws and A Bug's Life, you're absolutely guaranteed to recognize most, if not all, of these tropes.

Take a look at the these 8 film clichés and the movies that they originated from:

1. The stereotypical vampire - Dracula (1931)

Despite not being the first choice for the role of Dracula, Bela Lugosi's portrayal made the character iconic. While Lugosi spoke with an accent due to being born in Hungary (an area which is now part of Romania), and naturally had a widow's peak, over time these have both become two rather clichéd Vampire traits.

2. The villain lair - Dr. No (1962)

While the idea of a lair for a villain didn't come out of the first Bond film, the now-clichéd details did. It's thanks production designer Sir Ken Adam that details such as villains having lavish lairs inside volcanoes with automatic sliding doors and huge aquariums are frequently seen in other films. The lair was most probably famously parodied in Austin Powers (where it used set details from Dr. No as well as other James Bond films, many of which were also designed by Adam).

3. The vertigo shot - Vertigo (1958)

Also called the 'dolly zoom,' or the 'Hitchcock zoom,' this camera effect creates a very unsettling feeling among the audience and is "often used to suggest psychological distress." It was first seen in the Hitchcock movie Vertigo, though it was also famously used in Jaws, as well as Psycho, Poltergeist, Quiz Show, Marnie, and Apollo 13.

The Veritgo Shot used in Jaws
The Veritgo Shot used in Jaws

4. The brain eating zombie - The Return of the Living Dead (1985)

While The Return of the Living Dead was not the first zombie film (the honor goes to the 1932 films White Zombie), it was the movie that introduced the concept of zombies feasting on brains! Up until that point zombies mostly munched on human flesh. The Return of the Living Dead is also where we get the classic zombie groan of "brainssssss" from.

5. The pirate accent - Treasure Island (1950)

It was Robert Newton's portrayal of the pirate Blackbeard that created the stereotypical "pirate voice" that we know today. Newton came from the West Country in south west England, and exaggerated his accent for his role in Treasure Island because it's believed Blackbeard hailed from Bristol, so quite possibly spoke with the accent (though likely not that exaggerated) in real life. Naturally Robert Newton has been deemed the 'patron saint' of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

6. The mercenary team up - Seven Samurai (1954)

The Japanese film Seven Samurai was the first film to implement the plot element of gathering and recruiting heroes to accomplish a goal. These days the act of assembling a rag-tag group can be seen in many films such as The Magnificent Seven, A Bug's Life, Ocean's Eleven and The Avengers.

7. The identifying sound - M (1931)

The German film M, has the distinction of being the first film to use a leitmotif, or a "short, constantly recurring musical phrase," which is associated with an idea, person or place. While this motif was originally used in opera, M transferred it to film. In M a character whistles the tune "In the Hall of the Mountain King," and when this same tune is used later in the film, the sound of it tells audiences that the character is nearby, off-screen. These days, films still frequently use this technique - the duhnuh-duhnuh music in Jaws, the whistle in both Kill Bill and Hanna and the imperial march in Star Wars to name a few.

8. The call coming from inside of the house - Black Christmas (1974)

While this may have originally started out as an urban legend, it was Black Christmas who brought the 'the calls are coming from the house' cliché to cinema. Since Black Christmas this trope was probably most famously seen in the original When a Stranger Calls, as well as the 2006 remake. Black Christmas is also credited with being one of the first slasher films, and also originating the unsolved, ambiguous identity for its killer.

Source: Reddit, Slate, Wikipedia


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