Hearing bumps in the night? Watched a haunted video cassette? Had a phone call from raspy voiced stranger with an eerie warning? Surrounded by flesh eating ex-humans? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the bad news is, you may be trapped in a horror movie. Worry not, we have put together a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts to keep you alive until the credits start rolling.
Don’t follow your pets
Your dog has disappeared. You see an air vent with the cover left open. You approach tentatively, while all the time calling your dog’s name. You hear strange scratching sounds, or possibly the whimper of your beloved companion.
Your first instinct will be to lean into said hole while gently berating the beast for getting lost. Under no accounts should you do this – your dog has gone and you are next. Any second now, the scratching sound will become a growl, the whimper will turn into a yelp and you will be pulled bodily into the vent, to be the main course in the as-yet unknown critter’s meal.
Replace the cover and get to a pet shop… and get the exterminators in.
Turn the lights on
You’ll probably need to go down to the basement at some point in your ordeal. Maybe the boiler is down, or you need to investigate some eerie noises. I’d urge you not to, but the suicide-driven part of your brain will make you ignore pure logic rather than the tried and tested method of getting the smallest possible light source available in the surrounding area. Why not use that just to find the light switch?
If the architect who designed your house had an ounce of common sense, they’d have put the light switch at the top of the stairs rather than at the far end of the basement, round the back of the dryer, next to the axe wielding former game show host, etc.
Listen to the weirdo
It’ll either be a precocious ten to twelve year whizz-kid, or an old woman who locals refer to as mad. The old woman speaks in riddles, knows things we don’t, and lives in a dusty old house filled with ancient, neatly stacked newspapers, and childish memorabilia. When she tells you ‘they’re coming!’, that’s your cue to make for the nearest exit.
The boy will most probably be part of your group, and can usually hack computers should the need arise (if you’re in a teen horror, it will). His somewhat dubious scientific method will enable him to know exactly what you are going to be facing, and how to kill it with the minimum of evidence or facts.
He can always make complex 3D models of his foes on a computer by pressing a few keys. If you have passed puberty, it is your job not to believe a word he utters, and blame it on TV, 50s B-movies or videogames, at least until the first genetically mutated otter (or something) rips out the windpipe of one of the lesser speaking characters.
Regardless of which you get, their less attractive character attributes will always will always cloud the fact that they always know exactly what’s happening. Try to break with tradition and actually listen to them.
When facing a mask-wearing killer, undead armies or creatures with more teeth than the cast of Glee, ask yourself one thing: “Do I want them anywhere near me?”
The answer is, almost definitely, no.
Rather than waving a knife designed to cut baby carrots around like a seasick mental patient, try to find a firearm or something with a good swing on it. In an ideal world you would be fighting for your life while locked in a shop like World of Shotguns or Everything Ninja, but it’s very rarely an ideal world, and you’re more likely to be stuck in an abandoned school or hospital with a fire poker or chair leg.
Whatever makeshift bludgeon you end up with, make sure it’s big and heavy enough to cause some problems, while being light and sleek enough to handle. And another thing…
Get some protection
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re trapped in a school sports hall and the entire St. Winifred’s school choir, all zombified, are roaming the corridors eating janitors and pawing malevolently at the doors separating you. The lock won’t hold forever, and you’re three floors up – too far to jump without shattering some much-needed limbs.
There’s only one way out. You will have to fight your way through the Grandma-obsessed spawn of Satan. You’ve heeded the previous tip, and therefore are armed with a table leg or a cricket bat, and feel confident that you can separate a few choristers’ heads from their bodies.
In a normal zombie movie, that would be the limit of your preparation, but you’re in horror school now. How much protection is your T-shirt, shorts and flip-flop combo really going to give you? You need a buffer between your flesh and teeth, no matter how stupid you look.
I’d rather resemble the world’s most eccentric X Factor contestant, wearing armour made entirely from shin pads and cricket boxes, than be torn apart by vicious, pre-pubescent warblers.
Don’t split up
Unless you’re Will Smith, you are extremely unlikely to be alone in your quest for survival. You’ll meet a group of survivors at some point, and you’ll probably get a promiscuous cheerleader, her best friend who is also a cheerleader but more straight-laced, a cowardly, wisecracking, geeky type and a couple of self-assured jocks. Be on the look out for a barrel-chested, black security guard or a grizzled ex-soldier who was in a globally recognised conflict. They’re always handy.
At some point, one of your number will go missing. Let me assure you that they are already impaled on whatever they are going to be impaled on, but for the sake of moving the plot along, you will still decide to look for them. One of the cheerleaders will always say “We should split up – we’ll cover more ground that way”.
This is the worst possible idea, and will only result in the cheerleader who said it finding the body of the person they are looking for, screaming, and getting on the wrong end of an impaling themselves.
It goes without saying that we want to keep impalement down to a minimum – so to paraphrase the world’s most heroic spinal surgeon, Jack Shephard, “Live together or die alone, screaming and nailed to a tree”.
It might seem tacky to steal a rule wholesale from the movie Zombieland, but Columbus knew what he was talking about – he lived it! And if we do not learn from those who have gone before, we are destined to be eaten to death.
If you manage to get them down, make sure whoever or whatever it is that wants to stop you breathing isn’t coming back for another go. Your life is worth far more than a bullet, especially if you want to survive to be in the sequel.
This is essential to remember if you’re caught in a zombie movie, as you don’t want to be the one who is bitten and, just before the sickness takes hold, sacrifices themselves with a live grenade so that the others can make it.
You don’t want your last words to be “I was just slowing you down anyway, tell my wife I love her”, do you?
Leave the strange noises
Strange noises are going to feature pretty heavily in your foreseeable future. Scraping, growling, knife sharpening and sticky wet gurgling noises. It may seem a good idea to investigate them, but these noises usually lead to severe blood loss and, in some cases, death.
To be blunt, you will find yourself fumbling around in a dark room (against my advice) filled with rusty science equipment, dangerous looking tools or old dolls and glass eyes. When you do eventually locate a light source, it will be an unreliable torch, a single match or some sort of paraffin lamp. The noises will keep on coming and shadows will flicker.
After a while, everything will go eerily quiet, then something or someone will jump from behind a bookcase and stab you in the face. If you do manage to get away relatively death free, then the next tip is for you.
Don’t stop running
Let’s say you do get away from the shadow jumper. Your survival instincts tell you to run, so you peg it noisily through a couple of doors, then flatten yourself against a wall and breathe noisily. Even twenty-a-day smoking, asthmatic pensioners could run further than that. Here’s a better idea: KEEP RUNNING. Get outside, get in a car and get to a public place. Slight breathlessness trumps messy death every time.
If they’re down, finish them off
Okay, you’re over the worst of it, and the credits aren’t far away now. Everyone else is dead or missing, and you have been chased through all the derelict hospitals and creepy primary schools that finances will allow.
You’ve received a few superficial but painful injuries from your attacker, or have broken something important, reducing your ability to fight back or flee. The enemy corners you in a room full of junk, and you swing at them uselessly with a garden chair or plank of wood.
You will usually be flung bodily into the aforementioned junk and, as the seemingly indestructible nemesis bears down on you for a spot of impaling/slicing/biting, your hand happens upon a glass bottle or old lamp which you gracelessly strike the side of his head with. He staggers backwards, and crashes into a bookcase full of dusty globes, crockery and empty bottles.
Now is your chance. Instead of choosing the ‘flight’ option from your mental fight or flight multiple choice quiz, why not run over and jump on his head repeatedly until it becomes distinctly stain-like?
Be the deus ex machina
Okay, you haven’t listened to any advice thus far, but there is still hope. Remember the person who went missing earlier? Usually the crazy one who ran headfirst towards certain death so you could escape, or the coward who locked a door before you could get in? Perhaps they have returned out of guilt for a shot at redemption from their cowardly ways.
The killer-whatever-it-is has caught up with you after you carelessly decided not mash it to a pulp, and has disabled you in some bone-crunchingly painful way. You lie in the rubble, all hope lost, waiting for the end. As the death blow approaches, you close your eyes…
A shot rings out. The killer falls down dead. Standing in front of you in a dramatic pose is your very own deus ex machina (variations of this occurrence are too numerous to list, but include an axe through the head, bludgeoning with quite heavy garden furniture or a final spectacular impaling).
If you are in a situation with numerous enemies (zombies, giant insects, flying piranhas etc.) you will be rescued in your darkest hour by the army or lots of police, led by a person you’d assumed was dead.
Either way, congratulations. You are still alive, despite the bizarre and life-threatening choices you made along the way.
Now you just have to prepare for the sequel…
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