This is what fear is made of.


Horror movies tend to play on common fears, so it makes sense that a lot of them are constructed around phobias, like acrophobia (the fear of heights), or knife-ophobia (the fear of getting stabbed to death).

If you’re a horror writer trying to come up with ideas, it might be tempting to just pick a phobia and run with it. But not all phobias are created equal: some would make for some truly awful movies. So let this list serve as a warning to you, Hypothetical Horror Writer. These are some truly bad ideas.

1. Deipnophobia

american beauty

Deipnophobia: the fear of dinner parties. As far as phobias go, this is understandable. Cleaning up is a hassle, and people tend to suck. Plus, you’ve been traumatized by disastrous Thanksgiving/Christmas dinners – it’s been known to happen. So, as a person, I understand if dinner parties now trigger panic attacks.

But as a movie idea, this probably would not work. A movie where the protagonist desperately tries to avoid some obligatory dinner party would be kind of boring, unless you had some other elements to it. Maybe add cannibalism to this dinner? That does seem to engage horror audiences.

2. Genuphobia

claire's knee

Genuphobia is the fear of knees. Admittedly, knees are pretty ugly as far as body parts go (although, try telling that to the protagonist of Claire’s Knee). But I don’t think a movie about someone who sees knees everywhere is going to resonate with a particularly broad demographic.

3. Tachophobia


Tachophobia is the fear of going fast, so I think it’s safe to say that Quicksilver and The Flash don’t have this phobia.

It’s actually a pretty rational phobia. It kind of seems like a broader version of the fear of heights – after all, the danger is in the potential for going splat.

But this seems impractical for a story. A character with this phobia would have to avoid all modern forms of transport in their daily life. Could they even ride a bike? Meanwhile, of course, they’d have to confront their fear, so they can’t just be a feral person living in the woods, or something. So they’re probably someone who just stays at home as much as possible, meaning you might as well just give them agoraphobia instead.

4. Arithmophobia

number 23

Arithmophobia: the fear of numbers, math, numerals, etc. How would this even work in a movie? The character sees a number everywhere, getting increasingly obsessed and paranoid, convinced that the number is stalking th- oh wait, that movie already exists, and yeah, it’s pretty bad.

5. Porphyrophobia


The color purple isn’t very deadly, although I suppose if it induces an epileptic seizure (is that possible?), it’s a possibility. Obviously, this wouldn’t make for a very scary movie, though.

On second thought, maybe it could work if it was some kind of trippy, experimental thing. Film is a visual medium after all – maybe some clever director could figure out how to make this work.

Man, now I’m excited for Purple: The Killer Color. It’s going to revolutionize cinema.



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I saw 'Mars Attacks!' in theaters when I was five. I still think it's the greatest horror movie for five year olds ever made.