The Horror Movie Character's Survival Guide
The following tips are for any character that finds himself in a horror or science fiction film. This is an apocryphal list, with many authors webwide, so I've cleaned it up and edited for redundancy. If you have a suggestion to add to this list, email it to me.
If you should find yourself in a horror or science fiction film someday, take heed of these tips and you just may make it out of the film alive. Until the sequel, that is...
- When it seems that you've killed the monster, never check to see if it's really dead. If you're really unsure, take the opportunity to stake, dismember, burn, puree, blow up and/or pour acid all over it. Because, if you really must know, it's NOT dead.
- If you find that your house is built upon or near a cemetery or Indian burial ground, was once a church used for black masses, had previous inhabitants who went mad or committed suicide or died in some horrible fashion or who performed necrophilia or satanic practices, move away immediately.
- Always ask why the real estate (or the car, for that matter) is so cheap.
- Never read a book of demon summoning aloud, even as a joke. And don't even think of touching a book titled The Necronomicon.
- Do not search the basement, especially when the power has just gone out. Ditto the attic, unused rooms, closets, etc. Likewise do not go into the woods, barn, dark alley, deserted carnival or any other dark, secluded place. And never, never open a closed door if behind it you hear scratching, heavy breathing, gibbering, screams or any other strange noises from the other side.
- If someone who seems important tells you NOT do something (like DON'T fall asleep, DON'T leave me, DON'T look for the homicidal-chainsaw-wielding-psychopath by yourself, etc.) by all means, listen to him.
- If your children suddenly start speaking to you in Latin or any other language which they have not been taught in school, or if they speak in a voice other than their own, kill them at once. It really will save you a lot of grief in the long run. Note: it's unlikely they'll die easily, so be prepared.
- If you discover a room in your new house full of exotic-looking laboratory, machines or equipment, do not attempt to turn anything on. Also don't mix and/or ingest any chemicals or potions. In fact, get the heck out of there!
- When you have the benefit of numbers, never pair off or go it alone.
- If the gang plans a fun midnight party in the town's old abandoned mansion, don't tag along. Especially don't tag along if everyone's going as couples, except you're the odd guy/gal out. And if you're the gang's jokester, you may as well write up your last will and testament while you're driving along with everybody up to the place. If you're part of a couple, do not plan on having sex there.
- If your companions suddenly begin to exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as hissing, snorting, demonic chortling, changes in teeth, fascination for blood, glowing eyes, an increase in hairiness, etc., get away from them as fast as possible.
- Stay away from certain geographical locations, some of which are listed here: Amityville, Elm Street, Camp Crystal Lake, Transylvania, Midion, Ry'leh, Nilbog (God help you if you recognize this one), the Bermuda Triangle, or any small, picturesque town in Maine or Massachusetts.
- If you find a town which looks deserted, it's probably
for a reason. Take the hint and stay away. Also, in horror movies, the expression "ghost town" should
be taken literally.
- If you walk into the local abandoned-looking church to seek help or shelter, and you notice that the crucifix is mounted upside down, turn around and go back outside as quietly as possible. Then run away very fast.
- As a general rule, don't try to solve puzzles that open portals to Hell or other dimensions.
- Never stand in, on, above, below, beside, or anywhere near a grave, tomb, crypt, mausoleum, or other repository of the dead.
- Do not take (or borrow) anything from the dead. Similarly, do not poke, taunt, insult or otherwise disturb the dead. The dead are at their most unforgiving in a horror movie.
- If you're searching for something which caused a noise and are startled by a cat, bird, rat or other small creature, get out of there immediately if you value your life.
- If you are working at an arctic or antarctic research station and find a body frozen in the ice near a crashed spaceship, absolutely, positively do not thaw it out.
- Don't fool with recombinant DNA technology unless you're sure you know what you are doing.
- For that matter, don't fool with matter teleportation technology, particularly if there are flies in the room.
- If you're being chased by a monster, expect to trip or fall down at least twice (more if you are female). Also note that, although you are running and the monster is merely shambling along, it's still moving fast enough to catch up with you. Avoid cars as a means of escape, because even if you've got the keys, they won't start. If the monsters happen to be vicious cloned dinosaurs, do not implore your fellow characters to run, and then fling yourself on them so they can't run.
- If you're being chased by a monster and you think it's behind you, chances are it will appear in front of you (and if you're a female, this will happen right after the aforementioned tripping and falling).
- If you're being chased by a monster and you encounter
one of your friends and they ask "what's wrong?", don't stop and try to explain.
Just tell them to run as you go by. If they're really your friend they'll
follow. If not--well, then you can get away while the monster shreds your
- If your car runs out of gas at night, do not go to the nearby deserted-looking house (and there will be one nearby) to phone for help.
- Beware of strangers bearing tools such as ice picks, meat hooks, chain saws, staple guns, hedge trimmers, electric carving knives, combines, lawnmowers, butane torches, soldering irons, band saws, weed-whackers or any device which could conceivably cause you bodily harm. Strangers wearing any kind of mask (hockey, Halloween, ski, Mexican wrestler) should be considered highly dangerous.
- Listen closely to the soundtrack: should you hear scary music, or voices whispering kill-kill-kill-kill, this is your cue that you've only got seconds to live. Run now and you might make it.
- Never, never, NEVER try to communicate with
icky creatures or beings because "there's so much we can learn from them." You're
likely to learn some very painful things.
- If a meteor strikes nearby, move out of town. By ALL means, don't go out into the dark, deserted woods to look for it so you can poke it with a stick.
- Remember that strange lights are seldom harbingers of joy. Same goes for unseasonal fog.
- Avoid unusually large seed pods.
- People arriving to rescue you generally get ambushed by the monsters, so don't rely on them as your only means of escape.
- On no account do ANYTHING just because someone dares you to.
- If you realize that the people in your town/county are having their minds taken over by some strange force, alien or otherwise: DO NOT call the police because A) they're alread taken over themselves and will turn you in, or B) they will not believe you and laugh at you. Either way, you must handle the problem yourself.
- If a small band of children appear to be smarter then the adults that are around them, be cautious. If they stay together in a small, secretive group, and display nothing but hostility towards their elders, authority, and the church, leave town at once.
- If you assist the villain of the film, do not expect gratitude in exchange for your services. In fact, do not expect anything other then death, which will come in the final minutes of the film.
- If any animals, such as birds, piranhas, spiders, frogs, bats, insects, etc. begin to exhibit behavior that seems a bit more hostile towards mankind than is normal, immediately call in the authorities, get out of that town, and do not try to talk to any scientist who specializes in that animal (ornithologists, piranhaologists, etc.) because A) they will disbelieve you and B) they will soon be devoured by the rampaging fauna.
- Same general rule applies to pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, or anything cuddly.
- When you land on a distant planet, do not go into any big alien ships, structures or caves.
- If you come across some objects that look like eggs (as a result of disobeying the previous rule), leave them alone.
- When one of your spaceship's crew finds a hideous parasite attached to his body (as a result of disobeying the previous two rules), don't let him back on the ship.
- When a hideous alien menace is hunting you (as a result of disobeying the previous three rules) never wander off alone to hunt for the ship's cat.
- If you manage to lose a few body parts along the way, don't despair. Take this opportunity to replace them with weapons, such as chainsaws, hooks, harpoons, etc.
- If you are using a gun to combat the all-comsuming evil, it's a good idea to quickly find a new means of defense, because no matter how much ammo you have, you'll run out just before you kill the monster. Or the gun will jam.
- Whenever a strange weapon is presented (e.g. a harpoon gun, flare gun, electric can opener, etc.) TAKE IT! If you don't, the monster will, and sooner or later the weapon WILL BE USED! Better you use it than the monster.
- When it comes to fighting the monsters, never rely on any tool more complicated than a pointed stick. Generators will inexplicably run out of power, just as the nasty space-vegetable climbs onto your jury rigged electrical grid.
- If the world is suddenly taken over by rabid, flesh-eating zombies, take extra care not to get bitten by one of them.
- If you're the the last main character left alive, and a bunch of people are hunting the monsters DON'T stand out in the open, because you will immediately be mistaken for one of the monsters and killed.
- In a horror film you should never bathe, especially when in the house alone.
- If the phone lines are dead, and you hear footsteps
upstairs, when you're supposed to be alone, don't follow the noises to see
who your "guest" is. LEAVE IMMEDIATELY.
- Never pick up the phone to call for help, because the phone will likely be dead. Besides, monsters and psycho killers are attracted to people with phones in hand.
- If the Master does not approve, neither should you.
- Never handle the rat-monkey cage.
- Your dog can take care of itself...
- So can your spouse...
- And your kids.
- Self-sacrifice is a bad idea, as the person you save will usually die later anyway. But don't be too cowardly, as cowards always die horribly.
- Don't be a smart-ass. It'll only get you killed.
- Skeptics are always proved wrong in some horrible, nasty, painful way. Be a believer.
- Keep in mind that people driven by veangance always die.
- If you're not a main character, try to make sure you're the minor character who mysteriously disappears, is presumed dead for most of the movie, but who turns up unexpectedly at the end.
- Note that even if your plan takes into account all possible situations, it will not cover the one that actually occurs.
- During a lull in the action, never mention that you have any goals in life, anything to look forward to, or any loved ones that you can't wait to see again. Doing so decreases survivability to zero.
- If you throw away some possession of yours (antique dolls and ventriloquist's dummies in particular), and you find it again in your posession, move to another country IMMEDIATELY! Of course, the item WILL be waiting for you in the car as you go to leave.
- If you are a child, don't panic! Monsters only attack overly horny teenagers. As a rule children can NOT be killed in a movie, only possessed or absorbed or made into vampires (which means you get to stay up all night anyway). So cheer up!
- If you are the least bit religious, BECOME AN ATHEIST
IMMEDIATELY! Monsters will invariably seek religious characters out, gloating
in defiance of their "weak faith," and say mean things about their deity
before ripping them limb from limb.
- When you happen to be one of the fortunate ones and actually make it through the film alive, never, NEVER sign on to do a sequel. The reasons should be self-explanatory.