In Horror Flicks, The Cell Phone Always Dies First Scary movies just aren't as scary when the protagonists can call for help -- so it's up to the filmmakers to kill off the pesky mobiles early on. No signal? Dead battery? Dropped the phone in the toilet/sink/fishtank/pool? There are many creative (and not so creative) ways for filmmakers to cut off communication.

In Horror Flicks, The Cell Phone Always Dies First

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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And if baseball doesn't get your heart pumping, you could check out the remake of "Nightmare on Elm Street." Last weekend, it was the biggest thing at the box office.

(SOUNDBITE OF "NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET")

U: Wake up. Wake up. Wake up.

(SOUNDBITE OF CRASHING)

U: Who are you?

MONTAGNE: (As Freddy Krueger) Remember me?

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

MONTAGNE: OK. Freddy Krueger, played in the new film by Jackie Earle Haley, scared the pants off a new generation so thoroughly that there are already plans for another one.

: From member station KPBS, Beth Accomando reports.

BETH ACCOMANDO: There's no such thing as a reliable network for cell phone service in horror movies. Take the upcoming film "The Human Centipede." Two young women get stranded, and are held captive by a mad surgeon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE")

U: There's no signal.

U: What?

U: There's no signal.

U: There's always a signal.

ACCOMANDO: Actually, there's not. Just look what happens to the family in the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes." They discover that no matter how far technology advances, no signal is just the first of four basic limitations in the horror film provider package.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE HILLS HAVE EYES")

U: Find a signal?

U: No, nothing. Ninety-seven percent nationwide coverage, and we find ourselves in that 3 percent.

ACCOMANDO: Which brings us to the second plan limitation: cell phone battery life. It's even shorter than your life in a horror film, especially when you've got chatty friends, like in "The Roost."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE ROOST")

U: Did you try your cell phone again?

U: Yeah, it's dead. You used up all the battery when you were talking to Mike.

ACCOMANDO: The third issue is more user error - as in whoops, I dropped the phone in the toilet, pool, sink or, like in "Disturbia" ...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "DISTURBIA")

U: I dropped my phone in his car.

ACCOMANDO: And finally, the killer himself can disrupt your service plan by destroying your phone or politely knocking it into the sink, as Michael Pitt does before terrorizing Naomi Watts in "Funny Games."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "FUNNY GAMES")

(SOUNDBITE OF BANGING)

MONTAGNE: (As Paul) Oh, God.

MONTAGNE: (As Ann Farber) What? Oh, no.

MONTAGNE: (As Paul) I'm sorry.

ACCOMANDO: But these genre cliches divide fans in San Diego's Horror and Action Meet-Up Group. Just ask Wayne Sherman and Dante Moran.

MONTAGNE: Oh, I don't have service. You had service when you driving there. But as soon as the - you know, the 6-foot-9, masked killer with an ax comes out, cell phone doesn't work, the battery's dying, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And, of course, there's no charger.

MONTAGNE: Some of the cliches make it a horror film, right?

MONTAGNE: Yeah.

MONTAGNE: You know, I mean, it puts you in the right state of mind and so forth but, sort of, you signed up for some of those things.

ACCOMANDO: But maybe horror movies need to check out the service plan over at the end-of-the-world, Armageddon apocalypse genre. After all, cell phone service was quite robust in "2012."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "2012")

(SOUNDBITE OF RINGING PHONES)

ACCOMANDO: Everyone had service in that movie. Even the guy atop a mountain peak, about to be wiped out by a tsunami, could call his friend to say goodbye.

U: Sadin(ph), where are you?

U: (As Sadin) On the Nampan Plateau.

U: What?

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

U: (As Sadin) There's a tidal wave coming from the east. It's gigantic.

ACCOMANDO: For NPR News, I'm Beth Accomando.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "MURDER" FROM THE "PSYCHO" SOUNDTRACK)

MONTAGNE: And you can see all the ways filmmakers kill off cell phones, in a video montage at our website: npr.org.

: You know, we always have service at MORNING EDITION. You can find us all day on Twitter @MORNINGEDITION and @nprinskeep. That's me.

MONTAGNE: We're also at Facebook.com/nprMORNINGEDITION. And this is, of course, MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

: And I'm Steve Inskeep.

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