The Tropes of Innistrad – WHITE

I have long wanted to explore all the tropes embedded in Innistrad, a set marketed as exploring the horror genre, particularly what is called classic horror. I’m not really much of a horror genre fan, actually, but this set felt more literary than usual, and so many of the cards were just obvious riffs on classic horror tropes. That set to me to wondering how many I could recognize: I’m sure I’m missing a lot, and I’m sure I have a bias towards vampires (the one classic gothic horror novel I have actually read is DraculaFrankenstein not really being a horror story at all, but rather early nineteenth century Romantic literature). I would be happy to take suggestions for things I missed or misunderstood.

This project has proved more time-consuming than I expected, especially in searching for images to illustrate the tropes. So, this post is just the White cards. Below, you will find a card gallery image with my chosen images. A few cards seemed to be ‘filler’, included to make limited work rather than reinforcing the horror theme.

Abbey Griffin – I don’t know of any horror stories with a griffin that hangs out at a church.
Angel of Flight Alabaster – I don’t know of any horror stories with angels, even fallen angels.
Angelic Overseer – I don’t know of any horror stories with angels.
Avacynian Priest – The good old local priest is common enough in some horror stories, as demonstrated in a few of the cards below, but no specific priest from any specific story is jumping to my mind here.
Bonds of Faith – A cool idea: an angel controls a demon, but I don’t know any story like that.
Champion of the Parish – Here we go now, the local hero who goes out to fight against evil. I chose an image of the heroine from Resident Evil.
Chapel Geist – A ghost that just hangs around a church? I don’t know about that—what came to my mind was Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol (1954), here played by Basil Rathbone (and he sings!). (I know, not really ‘horror’, although Scrooge might beg to differ.)
Cloistered Youth/Unholy Fiend – A girl possessed by some kind of demon or evil spirit. This seemed to be harkening to The Exorcist. Is there something more classic or gothic instead?
Dearly Departed – Your basic ghost. Here I went with the classic photo of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall.
Divine Reckoning – The evil thing meets its end at the hands of what is good. A classic scene from Horror of Dracula (1958), employing a cross to good effect.
Doomed Traveler – I couldn’t think of a good example of a traveler who sets out on a journey and you, the reader or viewer, just know they are going to die, but I did think of Little Red Riding Hood–when you read the Grimm’s version of these stories, the fairly tales do sort of take on a horror dimension. She seemed doomed at the start of the story anyway.
Elder Cathar – The older wiser priest/crusader who wants to leave the vampire (or whatever) hunting to the next generation. This reminded me of the old high priest, played by Christopher Plummer, from the recent weird show Priest (2011).
Elite Inquisitor – The clerical fighter seeking to root out an evil that has taken root. I found this great image of the witch hunter Father Solomon from the recent Red Riding Hood (2011) movie. Seemed à propos.
Feeling of Dread – You just know something bad is about to happen. OK, what I really thought of was the old Disney cartoon of Ichabod Crane–there’s a classic!–but I went with an image of Johnny Depp from Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Fiend Hunter – Our hero against evil. This one seemed to be calling out the name of van Helsing, the original vampire hunter.
Gallows Warden – A ghost who keeps hanging around the place of execution? This was a toughy, but it made me think of the infamous headless horseman, assuming that his head was chopped off by an executioner. But further research suggests that I’m just way off here–the headless horseman should probably be attached to the Spectral Rider below. I’m just going to stick with this until I find something better.
Geist-Honored Monk – So, I got nothing really–a monk of some sort that can call up or converse with spirits? My first thought was the scene from the old Stargate TV show when Daniel meditates with a monk and meets the Ancient Oma. But that’s not horror is it?–I went with the class story of Ossian, which isn’t horror, either, but it is old, and the painting by François Pascal Simon Gérard, mostly just because I liked it.
Ghostly Possession – The ever classic girl’s body is taken over by an evil spirit trope. Again, this seems to be referring to The Exorcist, since I don’t know any older possession stories.
Intangible Virtue – When you start talking about ghosts seeking redemption, my mind turns to the Army of the Dead from The Lord of the Rings, which isn’t horror, but it is fantasy.
Mausoleum Guard – Ah, the classic museum guard who is always the first to go at the hand of the revivified mummy. I took the image from a show called Supernatural (I haven’t actually seen it), since it captured the essence so well.
Mentor of the Meek – The leader of a band of men who decide to fight the evil that faces them, despite their inexperience. I went with a scene from Felicia Day’s TV movie Red: Werewolf Hunter, which I haven’t seen but seems to capture the idea well.
Midnight Haunting – I think the real reference here is to a haunted house, so I went with the infamous Amityville Horror house.
Mikaeus, the Lunarch – A leader of society who leads his people in a fight against evil–if that’s not Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012), I don’t know what is.
Moment of Heroism – The hero just jumps into the fray against the evil hordes, no matter the consequences. I chose a scene showing Ash vs the deadites in Army of Darkness (1992), mainly because I like Bruce Campbell, not because I’ve seen any of these films.
Nevermore – The name is clearly referencing Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem The Raven.
Paraselene – The name is essentially a Greco-Roman reference to the full moon, so I found an image from the classic movie The Wolf Man (1941), complete with full moon.
Purify the Grave – Why doesn’t anyone think to purify the graves before the zombies and vampires come out of them? I guess it’d be a lot of extra work… Here’s an early scene from the classic Kiss of the Vampire (1963).
Rally the Peasants – Because the monster needs some cannon fodder. Here’s a scene from The Phantom of the Opera (1943).
Rebuke – Stay back, foul fiend! Classic image of van Helsing vs. Count Dracula (played by Bela Lugosi) from Dracula (1931).
Selfless Cathar – Someone dedicated to ridding the world of a pressing evil, more because it needs to be done than because of any personal motivation (well not too much, anyway). Another image from that weird post-apocalyptic vampire story, Priest (2011).
Silverchase Fox – Is this a horror trope?
Slayer of the Wicked – Another hero figure. Could have been van Helsing again, but I went with Vampire Hunter D instead.
Smite the Monstrous – Put a stake through it’s heart! Peter Cushing in Horror of Dracula (1958).
Spare from Evil – I’m not a big horror genre fan, so I learned about the Final Girl trope, played by Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween (1978) (I’ve at least heard of both of them).
Spectral Rider – OK, this should probably be the Headless Horseman, but the name almost begs to be Ghost Rider, and I found an image from a sub-series called Trail of Tears where the Ghost Rider is riding a horse. It’s sort of superhero horror.
Stony Silence – The card itself doesn’t lend itself well to a trope, but I’m thinking maybe it could refer to The Golem (1915).
Thraben Purebloods – I thought about a reference to the Hound of the Baskervilles, but that’s not really a horror story, and this card portrays the hounds as belonging to the hero or at least not being monsters. Yeah, I’ve got nothing.
Thraben Sentry/Thraben Militia – Regular soldiers by day, super monster killers by night. Cool idea, but unfortunately I’m drawing a blank.
Unruly Mob – The classic Frankenstein mob scene.
Urgent Exorcism – Get out, foul fiend! I took an image of Anthony Hopkins from a recent horror film called The Rite (2011).
Village Bell-Ringer – OK, it’s not really horror, but how can you not do Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, here played by Charles Laughton.
Voiceless Spirit – A ghost that doesn’t talk, I guess. (Does moaning count?) Again, I haven’t seen it, but from what I’ve heard, The Woman in Black (2012), supposedly based on a true story even fits the bill well enough.

That’s it for white. Again, I solicit any ideas or suggestions to flesh this out further.

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2 Responses to The Tropes of Innistrad – WHITE

  1. Emma Crisp says:

    Interesting idea. Have you tried yet? Unfortunately, the only “horror” I’m really familiar with is Vampire Knight and a few old ghost stories from Ireland and Scandinavia, so I don’t I can help much.

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