How to survive a horror.., p.1
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       How to Survive a Horror Movie, p.1

           Seth Grahame-Smith
 
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How to Survive a Horror Movie


  Copyright © 2007 by Quirk Productions, Inc.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced

  in any form without written permission from the publisher.

  Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Number: 2006939743

  eISBN: 978-1-59474-568-3

  Designed by Doogie Horner

  Illustrations by Nathan Fox

  Quirk Books

  215 Church Street

  Philadelphia, PA 19106

  quirkbooks.com

  The publishers and author (especially the author) hereby disclaim any liability from any injury that may result from the use, proper or improper, of the information contained in this book. We do not guarantee that this information is complete, safe, or wholly accurate, nor should it be considered a substitute for your good judgment and common sense.

  Nothing in this book should be construed or interpreted as an excuse to infringe on the rights of other persons or to violate criminal statutes. We urge you to obey all laws and respect all rights, including the property rights, of others.

  v3.1

  CONTENTS

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  AN APOLOGY FROM WES CRAVEN

  INTRODUCTION

  CHAPTER I: WELCOME TO THE TERRORVERSE

  How Do I Know If I’m in a Horror Movie?

  How Do I Know What Type of Horror Movie I’m In?

  C.R.A.V.E.N. (Cover, Recon, Arsenal, Vehicle, Escape, North)

  The Seven Deadly Horror Movie Sins

  How to Survive a Horror Movie High School

  CHAPTER II: SLASHER SURVIVAL SCHOOL—MASKS, GLOVES, AND MOTELS

  The Slaughterhouse Five: Five Types of Slashers and How to Defeat Them

  How to Survive Summer Vacation

  What to Do If You Did Something Last Summer

  How to Survive a Night of Babysitting

  How to Stay Awake for a Week

  CHAPTER III: INANIMATE EVIL—THE MANMADE INSTRUMENTS OF DEATH

  How to Survive a Haunted House

  What to Do When an Evil Vehicle Wants You Dead

  How to Defeat a Killer Doll

  How to Tell If an Object Is Evil

  CHAPTER IV: CRYPT-OGRAPHY—GHOSTS, ZOMBIES, AND THE REANIMATED

  How to Survive a Cemetery

  The Good, the Bad, and the Deadly: Know Your Ghosts

  How to Kill the Living Dead

  How to Kill a Vampire

  How to Tell If You’ve Been Dead Since the Beginning of the Movie

  CHAPTER V: FANGS OF FURY—ALIENS AND BEASTS

  How to Survive a Global Alien Attack

  What to Do If There Are Snakes on Your Plane

  How to Survive a Space-Based Horror Movie

  CHAPTER 666: THE SATANIC “VERSUS”—CURSES, DEMONS, AND THE DEVIL HIMSELF

  What to Do If Your Corn Has Children in It

  How to Perform an Exorcism

  What to Do If You Have Only Seven Days to Live

  EPILOGUE

  APPENDIX: ADDITIONAL STUDY MATERIALS

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  AN APOLOGY FROM WES CRAVEN

  There’s something I’ve been meaning get off my chest. Something that’s been eating away at my conscience for decades now. And I’ll admit, it’s not easy to write without getting a little choked up …

  … I’m sorry.

  I’m sorry to the countless people whose lives I’ve cut short. The characters who’ve become unwilling sacrifices to my art: The buxom babysitters. The doubting cops. The overbearing parents and well-intentioned boyfriends. Teens with their whole lives ahead of them. Decent, hardworking adults. All sent to an early grave in the name of box-office gold.

  Some made my job a little trickier—valiantly struggling to make it to the end credits. Others did everything but cut their own throats—running upstairs when they should’ve run out of the house; falling asleep when their lives depended on staying awake.

  I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t taken pleasure in dreaming up ways to kill them. Disemboweling them. Beheading them. Burning them, shooting them, and crushing them in garage doors. I’ve tortured young girls in Last House on the Left. Picked off an entire family one by one in The Hills Have Eyes. Created a child-murdering monster with the power to kill people in their dreams.

  I’ve built a career on the blood of innocents, and I guess the guilt’s finally caught up with me.

  Sure, I’ve tried to make amends before. Tried to give my characters a fighting chance. New Nightmare was the first step toward self-aware horror movie characters. Scream went a step further. For the first time, we had people who knew they were in a horror movie. Even better, they were armed with knowledge of the rules.

  And yet they died.

  No matter what I do, no matter how much of a head start I give them, it seems my characters always end up on the wrong end of a long knife. And while I’m happy that somebody’s finally written a guide to helping them survive, I wonder how much good it’ll really do.

  Death finds a way.

  INTRODUCTION

  “Don’t let us make imaginary evils, when you

  know we have so many real ones to encounter.”

  —Oliver Goldsmith (1730–1774)

  Brace yourself for some bad news—if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve become trapped in a horror movie. I know, I know—it sounds crazy, but you’ll just have to trust me for a minute, OK? This book has a knack for finding its way into the right hands—if it’s found its way into yours, there’s a reason.

  Questions. You’ve got a million. Lord knows I did. “How’s that even possible?” “Why me?” “Am I going to die?” Nobody knows the answers to those first two. Maybe you fell down a rabbit hole, or took one too many pulls off the ol’ peace pipe. Or, in the words of Aldous Huxley, “Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.” As for the last one? The answer’s “yes, and that right soon”—unless you do exactly what I tell you over the next 170 pages.

  I’ve spent the better part of my life (if you can call it that) trapped in the Terrorverse—sleeping with one eye open and one finger on the trigger. For almost 20 years now, I’ve tangled with all manner of ghosts, demons, slashers, and half-retarded hillbillies. I’ve vanquished vampires, blown the heads off my share of zombies, even danced with the devil himself—all without a lick of help. And you know what? I’m still here, so I figure I must be doing something right.

  I’ve also watched a lot of good people die (spend enough time in a horror movie, and you’re bound to lose two things: friends and appendages). I’ve also watched screenwriters and directors—the invisible gods of this godforsaken land—become increasingly clever and cruel over the years. So I decided to write down what I’d learned, in hopes that new arrivals to the Terrorverse (that’s you) would stand a better chance of making it all the way to the end credits. Sharing the skills I’d learned from a life spent dodging the kills.

  From this moment on, nothing is what it seems. You’re not a human being, you’re a character—and filmmakers are doing everything in their power to kill you, even now. Supernatural powers and curses are real, and numbers like 666 and 237 can kill you just as easily as a butcher knife. Log cabins are slaughterhouses, cornstalks are antennas for evil, and aliens never, ever come in peace.

  And me? I’ll be your guide through hell. I’ll teach you how to perform an exorcism, survive a night of babysitting, and navigate a cemetery (without become a permanent addition). I’ll teach you how to escape the inescapable, spot harbingers of impending doom, and defeat a haunted house. Most importantly, I’ll show you how to make life miserable for the screenwriters and directors who are
trying to end yours.

  So I suggest you stick close, pay attention, and avoid breaking the Terrorverse’s only commandment: Thou shall not be stupid.

  Now come with me if you want to live …

  CHAPTER I

  WELCOME TO THE TERRORVERSE

  DR. LOOMIS

  Death has come to your little town, Sheriff. Now you can either ignore it, or you can help me to stop it.

  —HALLOWEEN (1978)

  Those of us who’ve become trapped in a horror movie have a choice: We can either line up with the other cattle and march into the slaughterhouse, or we can fight back. Yes, it’s a long way to the final credits. No, the odds aren’t in our favor. But that’s no excuse to lie down and let the filmmakers have their way with us. Choose to learn the new rules. Choose to use them in your favor.

  Choose life.

  HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M IN A HORROR MOVIE?

  Horror movie characters aren’t killed by machete-wielding monsters or reincarnated psychopaths—they’re killed by ignorance. Ignorance of the mortal danger they’re in. Of the butcher lurking in every shadow. Of the new rules.

  Ignorance of the fact that they’re in a horror movie.

  How do you know if you’ve been sucked into the Terrorverse? Sometimes the signs are unmistakable. For instance, if you’re a teenaged babysitter caring for a mute toddler in a remote Maine cabin during a once-in-a-century blizzard while an escaped killer (bearing a strange resemblance to the handicapped boy you and your friends bullied off an embankment and left for dead all those years ago) roams the woods, you’re probably in a horror movie.

  But unless you’ve landed in the sloppiest of direct-to-video hack jobs, the clichés are going to be more subtle, your screenwriter more inventive, and your survival less likely.

  1. DETERMINE HOW YOU CAME TO OWN THIS BOOK. In movies, things rarely happen without a reason. Therefore, the simple fact that you’re holding a book called How to Survive a Horror Movie means someone’s probably trying to tell you something. Think hard: How did you end up holding this book?

  “I’m just browsing in a bookstore.” There’s still a chance it’s just coincidence. Be warned, though—if you take this thing to the counter and buy it, your chances of being in a horror movie go through the roof.

  “I ordered it online.” This is not good. Computers can be a gateway to unspeakable evil. Perhaps you were merely enticed by the gorgeous cover and incredibly reasonable price.

  “Someone gave it to me as a gift.” Yikes. Getting a book called How to Survive a Horror Movie as a gift. That’s like giving a young Liz Taylor How to Survive a Divorce. “Oh, I just thought it’d make a nice gift, Liz. I’m sure you’ll never need it!”

  “I found it in the woods.” There’s only one genre that would allow clumsy, contrived screenwriting like that. Proceed directly to “Slasher Survival School,” this page.

  2. TALE A LOOK AROUND. The environment should offer some clues. If you’re on a crowded city street in broad daylight, you’re probably safe (for now). But if you’re anywhere remote—the woods, an old house, an abandoned mental institution in the middle of a blackout—then yes, your chances of being in a horror movie are much higher. How the location looks and sounds can be helpful, too:

  Does everything look slightly grainy? This could indicate that you’re being shot on film. Or that you’re developing cataracts. Either way, not good.

  Is it poorly lit? Is everything bathed in bright blue light even though it’s supposed to be nighttime? Are there shadowy corners that you should be able to see into but can’t?

  What is the set decoration like? Can you see children’s sidewalk chalk drawings that should’ve washed away ages ago? Is everything suddenly covered in cobwebs or rust? Is there a thin layer of smoke on the ground for no reason?

  Do you hear strange sounds? Do strange chi-chi-chi … ah-ah-ah or metal-on-metal noises seem to come out of nowhere? Does music crescendo every time you open a door?

  Are you speaking Japanese? According to the laws of early twenty-first century cinema, anyone speaking Japanese is in a horror movie.

  If the answer to any of these questions is “affirmative,” then we have to consider the possibility that you’ve become trapped in a horror movie.

  3. TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF. Are you or any of your companions wearing a varsity letter jacket? Is there an achingly attractive yet sexually paralyzed female in your midst? Do all of your “friends” look suspiciously like cast members from Smallville and Gilmore Girls? (If so, your chances of meeting an untimely end have just increased by a factor of 10.)

  Determine if you fit any of the classic horror movie character stereotypes:

  A) “The Nice Guy with the Monosyllabic First Name”

  B) “The Slutty Goth Chick”

  C) “The Virginal Cop’s/Priest’s/Richest Man in Town’s Daughter”

  D) “The Nerd” (or “Nebbish Jew”)

  E) “The Congenial Fat Guy” (or “Deputy”)

  F) “The Sex-Crazed A-Hole” (or “Italian”)

  G) “The Black Guy Who Buys It 20 Minutes In”

  H) “The Black Guy’s Girlfriend Who Buys It 24 Minutes In”

  If these bear an uncanny resemblance to you (or your companions), you’re almost certainly in a horror movie. But before we panic, let’s confirm the diagnosis.

  4. CONDUCT THE M.A.D. TEST. M.A.D. stands for “Motivation And Dialogue,” and it is one of the quickest, most accurate ways of confirming the presence of the Terrorverse.

  Motivation. If you (or your friends) feel strangely compelled to do any of the following, you’re definitely in a horror movie:

  • Dig up a coffin to “make sure” something’s really dead.

  • Harass a hobo or retarded child.

  • Play with a Ouija board or read from a dusty old book.

  • Have sex in that house where that guy killed his whole family.

  • Carve a crucifix into your face with a rusty screwdriver.

  Dialogue. Ask each of your companions: “What time is it?” If they answer with the following, you’re in deep trouble:

  • The A-Hole/Italian: “Time for some pussy, that’s what freakin’ time it is.”

  • The Black Guy’s Girlfriend: “Oh no you didn’t.”

  • The Nerd/Nebbish Jew: “Wow, I didn’t even think you knew my name.”

  • The Slutty Goth: “I’m your ex, not your Rol-ex.”

  • The Fat Guy: “Mmpph hrff rurrph.” (Mouth full of lasagna.)

  5. CHECK THE CALENDAR. There are only three months in the horror movie year: July, October, and December.

  In July, teens are off from school—free to drink, wear bikinis, attend summer camp, and take each other’s virginity at will. October is, of course, the unholiest of months—when long-dead serial killers, ghosts, witches, and all manner of beast return to the world of the living to seek revenge. And December is reserved for Christmas killing sprees, evil Santas, possessed stepfathers, gremlins, and snow-bound caretakers.

  If the nearest calendar reads “May,” you can relax a little. However, if every Friday falls on the 13th, forget the month. You’re toast.

  6. CHECK YOUR WATCH. The horror movie day is still 24 hours long, but 21 of those hours are at night. If it’s almost always dark, all signs point to a horror movie. Ditto if the moon is always full. But even more telling than the lopsided night/day ratios are the huge gaps in your personal space-time continuum.

  If you find yourself asking, “How did I get here?” again and again, it’s probably because an editor has lopped out all the boring bits of your daily existence: walking from point A to point B, sitting on the couch watching a COPS marathon, and taking showers (unless you’re a girl with spectacular boobs).

  THE EIGHT MOST COMMON HORROR MOVIE STEREOTYPES.

  ARE YOU IN A SEQUEL?

  You’re probably thinking, “Who cares? Isn’t it bad enough that I’m in a horror movie?” Well, yes—but knowing whether you’re in the fir
st, second, or seventeenth installment is important. The later you appear in the series, the higher your chances of survival. With every subsequent sequel, the writing gets sloppier, the killer’s methods more predicable, and the danger zones more pronounced.

  EXAMPLE: Let’s say you’re offered a job as a camp counselor. You go online, do a Google search on the camp’s name, and get 370,000 articles about the murders that have occurred there every summer for the last 20 years. Result? You spend the summer flipping burgers and keeping your limbs.

  But how can you be sure? Here are a few sequel warning signs:

  • You’re attending a nondescript college in an unidentified state, and your friends keep saying things like, “Can you believe we’re in college now?”

  • You have shaky, black-and-white flashbacks of someone else’s unhappy childhood.

  • Corbin Bernsen is your father.

  • You’re in space.

  • You’re in 3-D.

  • You have the oddest feeling that you’re only here for the money.

  HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TYPE OF HORROR MOVIE I’M IN?

  You’ve used all of the diagnostic tools outlined in the last chapter, and you’ve arrived at the terrifying yet undeniable conclusion: Somehow, you’ve managed to become trapped in a horror movie. Now what? Just skip ahead a few pages to find the magic cure that’ll fix everything? Don’t waste your time—it doesn’t exist. Saying “I’m in a horror movie” is kind of like saying “I’m in Europe.” Sure, you’ve narrowed it down to a continent, but what language should you use to order dinner? What side of the road should you drive on? Can you take off your top at the beach?

  There are many subgenres (and sub-subgenres) in the horror movie universe—each requiring different survival skills. They can be broken down like this:

  Slashers. Blade-wielding psychopaths (both human and supernatural ones).

 
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