Do You Want to Survive a Horror Movie? Let the Experts Tell You How!

How many times have you watched a horror movie and thought to yourself, “Pfft, I’m smarter than that. If I were in this, I’d totally survive!“? Well, you’re not alone. This is something us horror writers think about quite frequently as well. And as I sat on my couch one night pondering this very topic, I realized that my friends in the horror community might be able to offer me some suggestions and tips of their very own!

So, that’s precisely what I did. I reached out to writers from other horror and movie websites and asked them all to provide me with one tip on how they would ensure their survival should they find themselves in a horror movie.

Some are funny, some are serious, but all are useful! So head on below, check out these tips, and then let us know your own thoughts in the comments!


Team up with the killer: Melissa Kay

You wanna survive a horror film? I’ve got a great tip that’ll guarantee you make it out alive (or at least, to the sequel) and it’s simple: team up with the killer. That’s right, join forces with the big baddie stalking all your friends and you’ll be living well into the next week. Think about it: the killer almost always wins, but he’s so vastly outnumbered that he usually ends up killed. There’s no guarantee YOU’LL be a final girl, so this is your next best bet for survival.

So, in a nutshell: start by killing off the other victims under the table, have a meet-cute with the killer while both targeting the same victim, team up to take out the rest, and skip into the sunset holding hands and matching knives. Game over, man. You’re alive.

Melissa Kay is a biomedical illustrator by day & a super-villainous jewel thief by night. When she’s not busy cutting pizza with scissors, Melissa creates art and words about art in multiple mediums at www.mechamelissa.com. Fall under her spell @mechamelissa.


Don’t panic, bring a towel: Tom Nix

Listen. You’re trying to enjoy a calm weekend in a cabin/ritual hazing with your friends and isn’t it just your luck that it’s the exact same weekend that a mental case with a machete bursts in and starts hacking up your friends, yelling something about how you’ll all pay for what you did to Suzy? First of all, Suzy is a jerk. Second of all, ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS ARE DYING. Do you know why they’re dying? It’s because they’re running around in a frenzy, screaming and making loud noises. If you don’t want to meet their fate, here’s what you do: DON’T PANIC. Also, make sure you have a towel.

Keeping a level head under intense pressure is going to get you through this. You’ll be able to scout for exits, find help, hide more effectively or even turn the killer’s methods against him, all while he’s busy chasing the people that can’t stop god damn hollering. Plus, you’ll have your trusty towel with you. It’s very useful for 1. Cleaning up spilled blood. 2. Using as a makeshift rope to climb out of windows. 3. Strangling the killer to death. Bet you didn’t know that piece of fabric you use to dry your butt after a shower was so multifunctional.

Guys, it’s real simple. Don’t panic and you’ll survive the night. Plus, if the killer knows ANYTHING about intergalactic travel, he’ll take one good look at you and think to himself “Now there’s a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is,” and leave you alone.

Tom Nix does not like writing bios so here is a recipe for chili:

3 lbs lean ground beef
2 pkgs Original Chil-O mix
3 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 diced medium green pepper
1 diced medium white onion

Cook ground beef in pot until brown, drain the fat. Add remaining ingredients at medium high heat. Stir until boiling. Replace lid, reduce heat and let simmer for at least an hour.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @TheTomNix.


If you’re going out, go out swinging: Matt Donato

Not everyone survives a horror movie.

No. Scratch that. Most everyone will die in a horror movie. They call her a “Final Girl” for a reason. So when death stares you in the face – be it Jason’s mask or the Wolfman’s fangs – don’t go down like a punk bitch. No one remembers Victim #3 who’s killed while cowering in a closet. Be Julius Gaw, who boxes Jason atop a Manhattan building before getting decapitated by a haymaker. Be Mark Gray, who harnesses Dream Warrior power to become a superhero gunslinger before being shredded by Freddy. Inspire hope, fight your battle and maybe save someone – possibly yourself – in the process.

There’s a reason why cowards are written off in 99% of horror movies. If you’re going to be a statistic, be in the minority.

Matt Donato is an internet scribe who spends his post-work hours geeking about cinema instead of sleeping like a normal human. Always searching for the next great slasher franchise. He seems like a pretty cool guy, but don’t feed him after midnight just to be safe (beers are allowed/encouraged). You can find his work on SlashFilm and We Got This Covered, or just follow him on Twitter (@DoNatoBomb).


Small groups, sensible shoes and sharp objects: Suzanne Bell

Surviving a horror movie isn’t for everyone, but if you want to be one of lucky few, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you can help it, never go anywhere with six or more people because that’s just a recipe for disaster. If you must, whether it’s an old hospital, a deserted farmhouse, camping, or a foreign country, exercise a little common sense. Ladies, for the love of Pete, opt out of your miniskirts and high heels and stick to pants and sensible shoes. You may not catch the eye of the handsome rogue in your group, but someone will be chasing you and you’re going to have a much better chance if you haven’t twisted an ankle trying to run through the woods in your Manolo Blahniks. Plus, Romeo is likely going to be one of the first to go anyway so just stay away from him. Survival skills are helpful, but creativity is key. No one is saying you need to be able to build a gun out of a Tic-Tac and a paper clip, but be resourceful enough to use what you have at your disposal, be it a small appliance or a pointy stick, and have the balls to follow through.

Suzanne is pop-culture and horror movie obsessed and contributes the occasional film review to Haddonfield Horror. She is also a sad NY Mets fan. You can follow her nonsense on Twitter @imyourarsonist.


Surround yourself with sexually liberated women, they die first: Alejandra Gonzalez

So, you’re off to a cozy cabin with some friends this fall and you’re concerned about being stalked and brutally slaughtered by a killer in a ski mask. While this concern is perfectly valid, I have good news for you! Your chances of surviving will be vastly improved if you do just one thing: surround yourself with sexually liberated women who know exactly what they want!

See, these are the kinds of victims the killer usually takes first; there’s nothing they hate more than a woman who takes ownership of her own body. If you can bring a woman who will definitely have sex during your get-away, your survival is almost guaranteed. They’ll be the very first to go.

Clearly, the murderer doesn’t only kill people, he also kills the mood. Once the killer is after their sexually charged targets, you’ll find you have more time to plan your escape and make it to the sequel. This tip is foolproof, unless of course you yourself are a sexually liberated woman. In that case, you’re shit out of luck.

Alejandra was summoned by a bloodroot ritual under a new moon to enlighten this world and then conquer it. She is a conjurer of hexes and words at FThisMovie. Fire walk with her @sick__66.


Pick a weapon you have the most skill in – your knowledge of it will strengthen your defense: Michael Pementel

If you are trapped in a situation, and have the time to plan, find a weapon that best suits your style. Don’t just go for the chainsaw because you think it’ll do the most damage. What if you’re a twig of a person, how do you really plan to carry that thing around without wearing out your stamina?

Find something that works with your skills and mindset. If you have experience working with knives, go with that. Someone who has a history working with certain tools is going to be more effective and survive longer than someone who has to learn their way around something they’ve never picked up before.

Michael Pementel is a writer based in Chicago, and a lover of all things metal and horror. His passion for writing allows him to pursue his interests in brutal and dark art. When he isn’t re-watching House of 1000 Corpses or blaring Cattle Decapitation, he writes for Metal Injection, New Noise Magazine, Film Inquiry, and Broken Amp. Check out his online portfolio.


Shoot ’em in the Head: J. Blake Fichera

Well, if you had a gun, shoot ’em in the head.
– Chief McClelland, Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Like “skinning a cat” there is more than one way to survive a horror film, but heeding the advice above, from good ol’ Chief McClelland, is a good place to start. A simple blow to the head from a bullet, arrow, nail gun, axe, hammer, bottle rocket, etc. is enough to stop most horror movie predators, but for some reason the majority of horror movie prey seem to aim for the body—with the exception of Laurie Strode (Halloween II) and Marty Coslaw (Silver Bullet), who have the uncanny ability to hit their attackers directly in the eyes with every shot they take.

Shooting your attacker in the body is fine, in real life it would likely do the job, but in the world of horror movies, even when the “monster” seems down for the count, it will rise again. So next time you find yourself in a horror movie, don’t pop your antagonist with a couple of slugs to the chest, then drop your weapon and turn your back to the seemingly lifeless corpse. Do the responsible thing, channel your inner Sidney Prescott (Scream) and follow it up with a shot right between the eyes. You won’t regret it.

*Note: In the case of attackers that are potentially zombies, avoid the body altogether and go straight for the head. In the case of werewolves and some vampires, silver bullets will be your ammunition of choice…but during most vampire entanglements, it would be wise to actually avoid the head and concentrate on the body, aiming for the heart with a wooden object, such as a stake, arrow, table leg, etc.

J. Blake Fichera has been a professional film/television editor and producer since 2001. He has taught film studies at the State University of New York at Purchase–concentrating on horror and comedy–and is the author of the book Scored to Death: Conversations with Some of Horror’s Greatest Composers. He has also contributed to film publications and websites such as Video Watchdog, MovieMaker, Fangoria and Dreadcentral and co-hosts the film-themed podcast Saturday Night Movie Sleepovers as well as the 21 Jump Street-themed 21 Pod Street.

Follow him on Twitter @scoredtodeath.

Don’t trust anyone: Lexy Van Dyke

Being a newbie to the horror world there are only a few lessons I’ve learned. Although, I have picked up one hot tip in my very limited experience. It doesn’t matter who they are, do NOT trust one god damn person. It doesn’t matter who they are. The cops will put you at ease with authority, friends and neighbors will use your innate trust and children will use their cuteness to disarm you. But they will either slow you down or they (most definitely) are the killer. This is why I would die in almost all horror movies. I will always want to help someone after falling or run to my friend’s house for help. So don’t be like me. Don’t trust anyone. Live to tell the tale of how you survived and the other suckers died.

Lexy Van Dyke is a movie and aesthetic appreciator, mainly of the rom-com and schlock variety. A knife wielding member of the “Girl Gang” and a total sweetheart, find her on Twitter @lexy_myranda and she also cries a lot while watching films for F This Movie!


Fight through the pain: Jerry Smith

We’ve all seen Scream and the countless horror films that go out of their way to point out cliché stereotypes and tell us what it takes to survive a horror film. They tell us to be virgins, never say “I’ll be right back” and so on, but I think the real key to living to the end and making it out is just to embrace the pain of the journey you just went through.

Like the lead protagonist in Split, it’s all about not letting those painful memories and situations define us and instead, using those things and experiences as catalysts and driving forces to face down the killers, demons and slashers in front of you. It’s not about being a goody two shoes anymore, it’s about being real and true to yourself. THOSE are the people who will face down today’s monsters and love to tell the tale.

Jerry Smith – (Director – LOVEISDEAD, Writer – The Martyrcycle, ShockTillYouDrop, F This Movie, Delirium)

Jerry writes for websites and magazines, directs sad bastard films and is currently writing a book about the making of one of the greatest films of all time, Cobra. You can follow him on Twitter @JerryisjustOK.


Stay home: Nat Brehmer

You know who was almost the perfect survivor? Shelly, from Friday the 13th Part 3. Because you can tell that that kid took a whole lot of convincing to be there that weekend. If he’d just stuck to his guns as an introvert, it probably wouldn’t have helped his self esteem at all, but he’d have lived. That’s the only guarantee. Horror is a wide and fluid genre. You never know exactly what to expect, even from a tried-and-true formula. That’s why the best bet on surviving is to just not show up.

Boss want to send you all the way to Transylvania to get an old man to sign a lease? That’s weird. Don’t do it. Getting the deal of a lifetime on a house where a whole family was murdered? Maybe you can live with the water damage and the mildew after all. Abandoned cabins? Mansions? Sanitariums? Amusement parks? All red flags. Even when it comes to home invasion, a staggering amount of these movies are set at cabins or vacation homes.

There are so very few concrete rules in horror, and that makes it tough to truly gauge chances on survival. But I promise you’ll get out alive if you never go out at all.

Nat Brehmer is a freelance writer and journalist who has somehow conned several of his favorite sites into giving him a platform to write about Puppet Master. You can find his reviews, analyses and absurd (but sincere) opinions at Wicked Horror, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, Diabolique, We Got This Covered and more. @NatBrehmer on Twitter.


Be the killer: Brett Gallman

While Scream made them explicit, there have always been unspoken rules about surviving a horror movie: don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t have sex—you know the drill. But here’s the thing: you can find several examples (especially from the golden slasher era) that defy these rules. Hell, Randy’s expert knowledge of these rules didn’t even allow him to make it past the first Scream sequel alive. It seems to me, then, that the primary rule for surviving a horror movie is accepting that there aren’t any rules, and that your best might require actually being the killer.

That’s right: think about how many horror movies—including those with villains who never returned for sequels or headlined franchises—end with the suggestion that the horror isn’t really over? It’s among the primary clichés, and it suggests that this is your safest bet to make it out alive—especially if you can parlay your killing spree into a seemingly endless franchise. After all, with Hollywood’s tendency to revive anything, even that old adage about poor box office being the only truly lethal dagger to horror icons doesn’t hold true anymore.

Brett Gallman was raised in and around video stores throughout the 80s and 90s and hasn’t stopped talking about horror movies ever since. You can find him on Twitter @brettgallman, and at his personal site, Oh, the Horror.


Stick to the ground floor: Sarah Jane

One of the most important rules to surviving in a horror film is to never go beyond the ground floor. If you’re in a house, you’re almost always guaranteed to be killed if you try to run upstairs or run down into the basement. You’re limited in exits in both areas. Ground floor means you can, at least, get the fuck outside and run like hell.

Sarah Jane
Twitter @fookthis
Letterboxd.com/fookthis
Contributing writer to TalkFilmSociety.com where I have two running columns, Overlooked & Underseen and Saturday Afternoon Kaiju. I also contribute to Rupert Pupkin Speaks and appear occasionally on the Splathouse podcast where I give film recs.

Sarah Jane has seen over 5,000 films. She resides somewhere in the Southwest but plans on returning to Austin, TX soon. Horror and exploitation are her favorite genres but she’ll pretty much watch anything as her Letterboxd diary will attest.


Don’t be dumb: Alex DiVincenzo

The key to living through a horror film, as in life itself, is to not be dumb. Intelligence is more than just sexy; it’s paramount to survival.

In John Carpenter’s Halloween, Laurie Strode shamefully confesses “Guys think I’m too smart” upon being questioned why she never goes out. And while she may never have made it with Ben Tramer, her intelligence allowed her to live another day.

You need to walk the fine line between book smart and street smart, which is easier said than done. If you’re too brainy, you run the risk of becoming the token nerd, which usually spells death from the start. (Pro tip: if you need glasses, get contacts!) If you’re overly boastful about your knowledge, you may be mistaken for the cocky douchebag whose comeuppance is cheered by the audience.

Make logical, rational decisions, even if they make the movie dull. An oft-criticized trope finds a victim running upstairs instead of escaping out the front door. You may as well avoid stairs altogether, as Night of the Living Dead taught us that locking yourself in the basement isn’t a good strategy either.

Anything is possible in a horror movie, and the intelligent characters are open to other perspectives beyond the realm of normalcy – even if they come from harbingers or soothsayers. Friday the 13th‘s Crazy Ralph probably didn’t earn his nickname for his wisdom, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Had those Camp Crystal Lake counselors heeded his warning, they would have avoided being doomed.

Educated kids pay attention in class. This practice has even more benefit in a horror movie, because odds are whatever your teacher is saying will be relevant to the plot in some way (see: Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, It Follows).

You don’t have to be “uptight” to survive. Laurie smokes a joint in Halloween. Sidney Prescott has sex in Scream. Drinking only beer would have kept everyone safe from the tainted water supply in Cabin Fever. The Cabin the Woods‘ archetypal stoner made it to the end with the help of his trusty bong. Drugs even save the day in The Faculty.

While these characters may have lost their inhibitions, they weren’t dumb either. They remained vigilant when the threat was present and fought back when the opportunity presented itself. Speaking of fighting back, you must do so effectively. When the killer is down, keep shooting, stabbing, or hitting until you can’t shoot, stab, or hit anymore.

Sure, there are exceptions in which an idiot gets lucky and manages to survive, but they’re usually accompanied by a smart person who did most of the legwork.

Alex DiVincenzo runs BrokeHorrorFan.com and makes independent films in Massachusetts. In his spare time, he can be found watching horror movies, defending pop punk, petting dogs, and eating pizza. You can follow him on Twitter @alexislegend and @brokehorrorfan.


Have Blessed Gun – Will Travel: Derek Faraci

This all depends on what kind of horror movie you find yourself in, but overall, a gun can really help you out. Now, I personally am not a gun person, but in the case of a monster/ghost/demon/slasher coming after me, I feel like a Desert Eagle could be real damn useful.

You’re going to want to get the gun and bullets blessed by a priest. The blessing will help deal with those pesky ghosts and demons. Hell, a blessing could help with your undead maniacs too – if years of playing Dungeons and Dragons has taught me anything, it’s that priests can really mess up the undead, so look out Jason! The blessing will really be helpful when dealing with vampires and you may as well make the bullets out of silver in case any werewolves show up.

Your average living maniac won’t stand much of a chance against a gun either, just ask Billy Loomis.

Now, if you’re dealing with something rarer, like a Xenomorph or a Blob, you’re going to need some serious firepower, so maybe upgrade to a bazooka or something.

Derek has been lucky enough to write about the subjects he loves for a number of sites, including Blumhouse.com, BirthMoviesDeath.com, and CrookedScoreboard.com. When he isn’t writing, Derek spends his time at High Score Lounge in Ferndale, Michigan. You can check out his online portfolio or follow him on Twitter @wh_woolhat.


Situational Awareness: A.M. Novak

When we look at survivors, Final Girls, and the last man standing in horror films, their victories can be attributed to everything from clever wit to sheer dumb luck. But the one common skill among the majority of horror survivors is their situational awareness. It can be as simple as exercising noise discipline and listening for the antagonist, or using the layout of the house to their advantage. It can be as complex as acknowledging that that nice authority figure and those well-meaning neighbors may be in on the conspiracy. Those who observe their surroundings and asses the situation for anything that can level the playing field are the ones that live the longest. So if you want to survive a horror movie, all you need to do is keep your eyes peeled and your mouth shut.

A.M. Novak is a California-based freelance writer, columnist and staunch Halloween 6 apologist. Her horror film analyses have appeared on Birth Movies Death, F This Movie!, Daily Grindhouse, and wherever they’ll let her talk about scary movies. See her work at www.anyawrites.com and follow her shenanigans on Twitter @BookishPlinko.


Work smarter, not harder: BJ Colangelo

If my math is correct, I’ve watched approximately nine kajillion horror movies, give or a take a few. These years of consuming death and destruction set to cinema has been the cause to a lot of nightmares, some interesting selections in T-Shirt designs, weirded out more than a few romantic partners, and armed me with encyclopedic knowledge on how to survive a horror film. Zombieland, Cabin in the Woods, and Scream have both dissected the genres and offered “rules” on survival, but the very same rule that allows you to procrastinate at your day job very well may be the one thing that keeps you alive…work smarter, not harder.

Humans have a fight or flight response, but horror movies like to believe that we also have an “investigate in very slow steps to the tune of shrill violins and make vocal cues like ‘Who’s There?’ to allow a slasher to play Marco f*ckin’ Polo to track us down and kill us” response as well. Work smarter. Feed into that response. Does your body say “get out, and run away?” THEN GET OUT AND RUN AWAY. Quit walking around trying to play Scooby Doo detective agency and GET OUT.

On that same note, when you’re in the process of getting the f*ck out of dodge; USE YOUR BRAIN. Quit running up stairs. It’s bad on your knees, it tires you out quickly, and now you’ve lost your ability to jump out of a window if need be. If something looks like a haunted artifact, DON’T TOUCH IT. If you find a weird book written in Latin, DON’T READ IT. If you move to a new town and all of the locals seem off, they probably are, call an Air BnB in the neighboring town and leave those weirdos in the dust. Make. Smart. Choices!

You do have to put in work to survive, but in the world of horror, brain always overpowers brawn…because otherwise there would be no slasher sequels.

BJ Colangelo is a recovering toddler and tiara easing the pain of her glamorous childhood with horror movies, drag queens, musical theatre, professional wrestling and vintage smut. She writes about cinema for numerous publications and considers herself to be the lovechild of Christopher Sarandon in Fright Night and Susan Sarandon in The Hunger.
READ ME: @Blumhouse @BitchFlicks @Playboy @Scream_Cast @bmoviesd @BJColangelo
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