“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt, US diplomat & reformer (1884 – 1962)
Truer words are rarely spoken, and rarely are those words truer than in horror movies. In particular, horror movies that feature randy teenagers — if you happen to be one of those teens, you definitely can’t live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself because you’re probably dead by the 26-minute mark. But you, dear reader, can benefit from the stupid acts of others. I know I have.
That’s why I proudly declare that everything I need to know, I learned from stupid horror teens. And I’m not the only one — I posted a few questions on Twitter to see what kind of response I’d get, and found that strange little social media site teeming with deep wisdom and the knowledge of the ages.
Still Waters Run Deep (i.e., Don’t Swim in Abandoned Military Research Centers)
Always a sage piece of advice: @ghostfinder shared this gem from 1978’s Piranah. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to stay away from military research centers altogether, and that goes double for abandoned ones.
Pursue Life (i.e., Never Stop to Hide)
@brandg talked about how his life changed after watching Jamie Lee Curtis hide in the closet in Halloween. You can’t just sit there and let life’s tribulations find you cowering with a twisty coat hanager, you have to get up and move, kid.
Know When Debate Is Not an Option (i.e., If Someone Tells You Your Brains Are Spicy, Run)
@KChrisH brought up a good point in reference to Return of the Living Dead Part II — there are times when long-winded discussion is just not appropriate. For instance, if a guy says to you, “Brenda, your brains smell so good, so spicy,” it’s not the time for intellectual discourse. It’s time to run. I put this lesson to use just last week and I’m guessing the guy standing next to me, the one who failed to learn from the missteps of stupid horror teens, didn’t fare as well as I. He sure wasn’t as fast as me, and when you’re being chased by the undead that’s all that really matters.
Chastity Is the Cement of Civilization and Progress
Any discussion of the wisdom culled from the wholesale slaughter of celluloid teens must address the evils of sex. I could list movies here, but really? It’s all of them. @CWSeidman, @nanther, @tooltoddler, @cc_chapman, @filamena all felt rather strongly that a chaste life is a life you get to keep living.
Be Fiscally Responsible (i.e., Pay Your Damn Phone and AAA Bills)
As @TeeMonster pointed out, sometimes you need to make sure you can call home, call the police or call a tow truck to come get you out of a pickle. If that pickle happens to be a gigantic dude with a sledgehammer and a cannibal family like, say, Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you’ll be happy you paid those bills on time.
Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep (i.e., Just Don’t Say “I’ll Be Right Back.”)
@rycher, @paul_e_cooley brought up a classic life lesson from the Scream movies. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. And if you can’t be sure because there may or may not be a serial killer on the loose and rather than going to the cops, you’ve opted to hang out with your friends at the house of the girl whose parents are gone, then you’d best not promise that you’ll only be gone a moment, sonny.
Look Ahead, Not Behind (i.e., Don’t Walk Backwards)
What seems like common sense is actually a little-known gem of knowledge. As @TheNewAuthor pointed out, it must be little known, to judge by all the kids in the Friday the 13th series who see a dead body and, instead of turning and sprinting away, slowly back pedal while keeping their eyes on the corpse. Hey, kid? The dead guy with his guts spilled all over the place? He’s not the threat. The dude who did him that way is. @SplinteredBoard added that when running away from said corpse and/or said killer, you should under no circumstances look over your shoulder. If you do, you’re sure to trip over the only exposed tree root within 100 square miles.
Not Every Ass Has Long Ears (i.e., The Higher Your Douchebagginess Quotient, The Faster You Die)
I take this tidbit from @rasplundjr to heart, having learned so much from watching the sad demise of Buddy Repperton in Christine, among other troubled horror-film youth just crying out for help. If your call for help involves beating up nerds and stomping on their glasses, you can bet life will take your lemons and turn you into lemonade… either that, or hurl your burning carcass into a ditch where you can suffer a slow and agonzing death.
A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste (i.e., Dumb Kids Get Hacked First)
Stay in school, kids. @rebeccahession brings up the valid and highly instructive point that the bookish semi-nerds tend to last longer. Total geek-dom will get you killed, of course, but so will being cool, cutting classes and trying to score your girlfriend’s homework so you don’t have to study.
Common Sense Is Not So Common (i.e, If You Think You Saw the Shadow of a Man Holding an Axe, You Probably Did See the Shadow of a Man Holding an Axe.)
The only drawback to @scstokes’ dead-on analysis is that it’s too long to fit on a coffee mug. Stupid horror teens have taught me to trust my instincts, avoid things and situations that look dangerous and that when I’m forced to say, “Huh, I don’t know what that is,” it’s best to run the other way and let someone else put his destiny to the test. @grimmwriter touched on a related idea, noting that If the bad guy/thing appears to be dead, you should run. Looks dead? Good enough — get the hell out of there. Don’t walk over and poke it. And whatever you do, do not actually say “it’s dead.” Hear me, dude from Pumpkinhead? Well, no, you don’t, because it really wasn’t dead after all.
Wisdom Conquers All …
There you have it, Dear Reader, the valuable life lessons I’ve taken from horror movie teens. Wouldn’t Mrs. Roosevelt be proud? Now it’s your turn — what horror-movie life lessons did I miss? Put them in the comments below, and share your sage advice with others. My Twitter account is @scottsigler, feel free to follow.
New York Times best-selling author Scott Sigler writes tales of hard-science horror, then gives them away as free audiobooks at www.scottsigler.com. His novel INFECTED was named as Borders’ #1 mystery, thriller and horror novel for 2008. His next major hardcover horror/thriller ANCESTOR will be out on May 4, 2010. Don’t agree with what Scott says in this blog? Just post a note in the comments section below. Include all relevant personal information, such as your address and what times you are not home, so Scott can pay you a surprise visit and show you his world famous “Chicken Scissors.”Read More