I was recently asked by Man Crates what would be the essential things I would want with me were I to find myself in a horror film. They’re a company that creates awesome gifts for men packaged in wooden crates opened with a crowbar; they wanted to know how I’d fill a crate to survive the whole movie. It seems difficult, since the horror genre is so varied. Wooden stakes would seem like a pretty good choice if you found yourself dealing with vampires, but what if you gather your wooden stakes only to find yourself in a werewolf movie, or a slasher?
Depending on the vampire movie, wooden stakes may not even do you any good. Ideally, you want something that’s easy to carry, lightweight, and can help you in the most situations. Something that is an “I win” button against a particular type of monster that may be chasing you is putting all of your eggs in one basket, and that’s flirting with disaster. So, the first question is: Do you want to fight back or run away?
A weapon was my first thought. You can only run in the movies for so long before whatever it is catches up to you. Even previously drowned kids drowned and turned into lumbering psychopaths seem to have the speed of a cheetah when the cameras aren’t watching. Eventually, you’re going to have to face that thing down. Guns are right out. Not only do you have to deal with the fact that ammo runs out at the worst possible time, many of the monsters you may face shrug them off. If you’ve brought your Glock in the hopes of getting yourself out of the situation, you better hope that what you face is an ordinary human, zombies, or a werewolf (assuming you have access to silver). Sharp things seem the next best choice, but swords and axes can too easily get stuck in whatever you hit, especially if they’re soft targets. Bring that axe home in the killer’s shoulder, and suddenly you’ve given the guy a free axe. If you go for a weapon, might I recommend the humble baseball bat? It’s lightweight, strong, easily modifiable (Nails on the end for a sharp punch, sharpen the whole thing for a stake, burn a cross on the end for pesky devils), and it’s extremely plentiful, at least in the States. A crowbar or wrench may have more utility outside of fighting for your life, but tools are heavy and awkward. Additionally, you run the risk of damaging it caving in skulls, then you might as well have picked up a random chunk of metal in the beginning. However, a weapon isn’t my final decision in this survival exercise.
Some sort of armor might be in order. Running is less of an issue if whatever’s chasing you can’t hurt you. A bulletproof vest wouldn’t be ideal, as you never see guns in a horror movie used effectively and Kevlar does nothing to stop knives and other sharp objects. On the other hand, anything that’s going to stop sharp objects is rigid and bulky, and will only slow you down. If Mike Myers has all the time in the world to suss out where you have a weak spot while you waddle, penguin-like away, you have failed at your task. What you’d want would have to be homemade, rigid plastic plates to cover the obvious vitals (heart, neck, groin), with a helmet to match. It wouldn’t stop everything, however. The big bad could throw you from a height, or hit you with a blunt object. Maybe he read my first paragraph and brought a nice solid bat. This wasn’t my choice either, and as you can see, it really shouldn’t be anybody’s choice. Not getting hit in the first place is the only effective defense for the threats we may face.
Attack and defense will not serve us in this situation, at least not the general attack and defense items we have discussed. I would pick one of two other things to take with me in this excursion in the films I watch. The first, and more obvious of the two, is knowledge. More importantly, I would want a way of doing research, such as ready access to the internet. Every monster has a weakness, be it some object, a person, or maybe a certain word. Unfortunately, it can and will be different depending on the beast in question, and even the sequel in question. You want a way to figure out what’s the winning play here. Abraham van Helsing was not some square-jawed meathead who charged into confrontations with whatever he had on hand. He was a scientist who studied the signs of his prey and the methods to stop them. Armed with the means to find the path out of my situation, I can set out to escape. If I can just have a handy book detailing all of the major players in horror, a genre Monster Manual if you will, all the better.
Barring that, I would want charisma. Strange, but remember we are not in a horror scenario, we are in a horror movie. I know I am not making it to the end, likely. I am, after all, male and they don’t call them Final Girls for nothing. However, I am playing out my life for the audience, and if they like me, the audience will compel the scriptwriter to keep me around. With a little bit of leadership, or maybe just all around likeability, I could last quite a bit into the film. Maybe I could be one of the rare few, the boyfriend who makes it to the end. I’ll likely be taken out in a stinger mid-credits, but it’s as wonderful a life as any could ask for in this situation. What do you think?