What were they thinking? Five of the Worst Decisions ever made in Horror Movies
Bad decisions, we’ve all made them. Luckily for most of us, poor decisions usually land in two categories: awkward at best, dirty little secret at worst. In real-life, bad calls typically involve too much tequila, sketchy restaurants, reignited old flames or late-night texts. But for characters in Horror films, bad decisions get serious. Swiping Left or Right in a Horror story can mean Life or Death and before you know it that Tinder profile is Jack the Ripper’s and your clumsy one-night stand is tomorrow’s shocking headline. Bypassing a five-star Hotel for a Motel with no Yelp reviews? Meet Norman. Mistake a deep-space warning for an invitation to party? Meet Xenomorph. Unfortunate introductions like these can be avoided if we simply learn from the mistakes of our favorite Horror film characters. So, read on. Self-preservation has never been easier or as much fun.
ALWAYS HAVE AN EXIT PLAN: Clearly marked or not, knowing the way out is a priority. In the real world, exits can lead to bathrooms, parking lots or simple fresh air, but in a Horror film they can be the difference between survival and infection. In Director George Romero’s 1968 classic, Night of the Living Dead, Father of the year Harry Cooper believes the cellar is the best place to spend the aforementioned Night. He couldn’t be more wrong. With a horde of zombies outside and his infected daughter Karen inside, Harry ignores Ben’s warning that the basement is a “death trap” and instead chooses false comfort over chaos. Later, when his little angel turns devil, like any good Dad, he decides to lend her a hand. And most of his arm. Whether it’s rural Pennsylvania or your favorite hometown hangout, remember to identify escape routes and watch for infected. Following simple tips like these will guarantee both survival and a happy Father’s Day.
LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS: Centuries from now, when Mankind has developed space ships that routinely travel to far-away galaxies and distant worlds, one could hopefully conclude that unlike today, science has firmly regained its foothold on the pedestal of reason, offering educated hypotheses and tried and tested theory. In this future-world of hypersleep and androids, it’s smart to trust the Nerd. When characters, Dallas, Lambert and Kane return to the ship in Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien, they’re not alone; a baby xenomorph has affixed itself to Kane’s face, burying the next stage of its life deep inside him. Science dictates that indigestion like this demands quarantine and time to consider the next step. In this scenario, light years from home within the cold confines of deep space, cooler heads should most definitely prevail, especially if one of them is Ellen Ripley, a seasoned Warrant Officer, whose expertise and authority demand recognition. With credentials like these, you’d expect Captain Dallas to heed her advice instead of squabbling over protocol and allowing weird new guy, Ash to eventually make the call that dooms them all. Remember, rules are rules and in Horror movies or real life, breaking them can spell trouble, especially on other planets. Deep space is not the place to go with your gut. Kane proves that later.
FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS: iPhones, iPads and YouTube weren’t around in 1973, the setting of author and screenwriter, William Peter Blatty’s psychological Horror classic, The Exorcist. So, why then wasn’t Georgetown tween, Regan outside in the fresh air instead of downstairs playing alone, with a Quija Board? The rules of the game are simple: Pick a Medium, be serious, always say Goodbye and do not play alone. First mentioned in 1100 AD China and eventually mass-produced as a parlor game in 1901, the basic tradition of “Quija” board use demanded groups of two or more people; any less placed one in a very vulnerable position, increasing the possibility of mischief from beyond the grave. So, place your hands on the board, start on the letter “G” and surround yourself with friends before you engage the unknown, because if there’s one thing any self-respecting demon knows it’s that when playing with a bored teenager, three’s a crowd.
SEIZE THE DAY: Punctuality speaks volumes about self-discipline, organization and respect for others. In fact, Transylvanians pride themselves on it. How else do you think they’ve survived among the undead all these centuries? Making the most of a day and then locking your doors and windows promptly at sunset may seem simple, but around Vampires such straightforward decision-making seems in short supply. Whether it’s in Tod Browning’s 1931 classic or Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 revival, Dracula seems to attract procrastination. Instead of Carpeing the Diem at sunrise, most wannabe Van Helsing’s wait until just before sunset to plan their attack, thereby evening the odds for even the most unsuspecting of fiends. Serious vampire-hunters know that whether they’re battling the Lost Boys, Barnabas Collins or Count Dracula himself, it’s best to rise and shine. Sure, stakes get the job done, but when you’re up against the Lord of the Undead, start with coffee.
NO TRESPASSING: The intention behind the words, Private Property can be traced back to childhood. It essentially implies: That’s Not Yours. Other than the occasional surprise visit from Grandpa, real-life homeowners generally prefer to be left alone to enjoy some simple peace and quiet, free from uninvited guests and stubborn solicitors. To you and I, such tranquility could mean a cup of tea and a good book, but in Horror flicks like Director Tobe Hooper’s 1974 thriller Texas Chainsaw Massacre, such undisturbed hush doesn’t herald hours of uninterrupted Netflix; it means someone or something is avoiding prying eyes, law enforcement and/or basic human decency. When any hapless hero of Horror is faced with the decision, To Knock or Not to Knock, it’s simple math to return to one’s childhood and do what kids do best: Run.
Big decisions in real life are important. They can make a powerful impact and leave a lasting impression. When characters in Horror films make bad decisions, we’re safe at home, rewarded with memorable Cinema. In turn, they’re left with an increasing body count and the occasional sequel. Thankfully, the suffering the rest of us face from bad decisions usually consists of embarrassing stories and chuckle-worthy tales of near-misses. Preparing yourself for tough choices, whether simple and obvious or painstakingly difficult, is in itself a good decision. Hopefully, by learning from the grave mistakes of our favorite Horror film characters, bad decisions can be avoided in life, even if they lost theirs in the process.
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